Monthly Archives: May 2013

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New Around Here? Dating Sites and Apps You Haven’t Met Yet

Bored of the usual offerings from POF, OkCupid and Match? Grindr no longer turning your crank? With spring finally really here and wedding season hitting its stride, now is the time to act if you don’t want to be stuck at the weird cousins’ table again. Fortunately, technology continues to conspire in favour of getting you a date, no matter how specialized your needs. I’ll go wherever I must to help my clients find love, so I’ve been doing a little research, and am pleased to present this short primer of some of the newest niche offerings in the online dating market. Please note: a mention here should not necessarily be interpreted as an endorsement!

"Hey, you look just like my...." Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs, married since 2003, do indeed resemble each other rather strongly

The idea that we unconsciously seek out partners who look like ourselves is creepily well supported by science. I’ve been alarmed to note (many years later) how much some of my former partners resemble my young dad in photographs, and in high school, my first terribly serious boyfriend and I were often mistaken for siblings. So this is totally a thing, and that means there is totally going to be a dating website just for people who are into it. Find Your FaceMate purports to match you not based on a bunch of questions, but a bunch of points on your face, and how well they correspond to those same points on other users’ faces. Apparently the geniuses in charge of this site can even attach personality traits to your facial features, but considering that I uploaded a pic of my not-too-uncommonly-featured self and got no matching results, I’m not sure they’re trying very hard yet.

Of course, if you live in Iceland you ought to have no problem. The country’s population of just over 300,000 are all related by blood – it’s just a matter of how closely. So there’s every chance that when you pick up in a bar, you may be about to commit incest, and most people would prefer to keep the degrees of separation as far apart as possible in that scenario. Enter IslendingaApp, which handily enables registered users to “bump [phones] before you bump in bed” (their joke, not mine) and find out just how freaky any resulting children might be. As one user comments, “If I would have had this app last year I probably wouldn’t have gone home with my cousin.”

Ready to meet Ms. (or Mr.) Right Now?

Proximity is the name of the game with the incredibly popular iPhone app Tinder, which uses a “hot or not” style rating system as opposed to useful things like biographical information to help you decide who you’d like to meet. It’s probably the closest thing to a heterosexual Grindr that’s ever going to be popular, even though it’s led to more than 70 men descending upon a one frozen yogurt shop in pursuit of the same (fictional) woman.

Less likely to lure a bunch of unsuspecting wannabe Romeos is the travel-themed Meet At The Airport, which promises “Romance, travel companion, friendship, networking. The possibilities are endless.” Presumably the people using this site wouldn’t be desperate enough to buy a ticket unless they were actually going somewhere, so it may in fact be a handy way to find a mate who also likes to see the world – or has to do so for business. At the very least, mile-high-club membership numbers should surge as a result. As the site breathlessly suggests, “Meeting someone new at the airport is fun and exciting. We’ve all thought about it while waiting for our flight. It’s a bit of adventure that adds spice to your everyday life. MeetAtTheAirport.com can now make a fantasy a reality. Find fellow travelers that are looking for that added sense of excitement that you only get when meeting someone new. Share a drink with an attractive stranger in the totally safe environment of a public airport.” (I’m not sure why, but that last bit – while probably very true – actually inspires very little confidence in the reader.)

Have you met Ted?

Like Tinder, Grouper is a Facebook-reliant members only site (and app) that allows you to set up “dates” between social cliques, in groups of 2 or 3. The obvious benefits to such an arrangement – having your wingmen (or women, or both) on the premises will keep awkward conversational pauses to a minimum, and hopefully stop you from doing anything too stupid – could be offset by the type of issues that haven’t plagued us since high school. “My BFF and I both like the same person!” Still, if I were single, I’d probably give this one a try. And if you’re ready to look for love online and find it, get in touch with me! I’d be happy to help.

Mrs. Robinson Replies: Five Ways to Handle Messages from Younger Men

Hollywood has long been enamoured of the older woman/younger man romantic scenario, but online dating sites are making it more plausible in the real world. If you’re a woman in your 30s – or 40s, 50s, 60s – you’ve probably received at least one message from a brash young man who wants to get with you. If you’re anything like my clients, you get them all the time. Some are shockingly straightforward, some considered and charming, some unabashedly pleading. How do you respond? Well, that depends on your reaction:

What kind of girl do you think I am?

If you’re not interested in casual sex with anyone of any age, you are well within your rights to ignore messages from randy wannabe boy-toys who are clearly – sometimes vividly – only interested in one thing. If the sender’s date of birth does not place him within your stated age parameters, you are under no obligation to respond at all. If the sender’s not wearing a shirt, and has composed a message of less than ten words or that does not form a complete sentence, delete the original message and just block the young buck. Any reply, even a firm denial of his advances, will only lead to even more insistent and lewd overtures.

You'd be so perfect for my friend/cousin/granddaughter!

If you’re flattered, but not interested, and can detect that a genuine gem of a guy lies behind the gesture, write back. Pleasantly acknowledge the fact that he’s got game – but make it clear that you’re not going to play with him. Just because you’re not buying what he’s selling doesn’t mean he should be taking himself out of circulation, though, and that does sometimes happen to guys who get tired of never receiving replies. (I read a lot of dating profiles. I feel for the fellas sometimes.) Plus, if he really is sincere about wanting to be with an older woman, he might be just right for one of your friends – or your daughter. It’s okay to let him know that it’s nice to be thought of as a viable option by someone of his generation, but you’re looking for someone with a little more mileage.

Sure, I could have babysat you, but there's no harm in writing back

So your interest is piqued by his picture or his prose, but you’ve never dared consider meeting someone in his particular demographic. Depending on the message and your moxie, you can write back taking any number of approaches. Let him know you’re mildly intrigued. (But only mildly.) Or challenge his interest in you directly, if you want to clarify his intentions. You can be as vague or explicit about it as you like. You’re not particularly invested in the exchange, why make it a big deal? You might refer to any number of pop culture touchstones when employing this tactic (“Is this a Graduate/Sex and the City fantasy you’re hoping to play out with me, or do you actually like John Coltrane too?”)

Okay, but this is a one-time deal

There’s nothing wrong with warm-blooded, free-willed individuals of any age getting together to satisfy one of the few truly universal human impulses. Who cares about the psychology behind the message when you haven’t been laid in (please insert whatever you consider a sufficient number of hours/days/months/years to qualify as too long)? There’s no need to be coy, but you don’t have to be crass, either. Reply briefly: “I’d be an idiot to turn down an offer like that, and mama didn’t raise no fool” might do nicely. Just make sure that both parties’ expectations are clearly outlined in subsequent messages. Arrange a brief meeting in a public place beforehand to ensure that he is who he says he is, and that his intentions are what he claims they are. A low-pressure, high-traffic outdoor venue (a park, a city square, outdoor market) is preferable to a sit-down meeting in a coffee shop where you might be spotted by someone either of you knows. You don’t want to have to pass him off as someone you’re mentoring (although that makes an excellent cover if you need one). When arranging intimate encounters, your Spidey Sense needs to be turned up to 11. It’s good practice to avoid traveling in a stranger’s vehicle, particularly if this is just a hook-up.

I'm old enough to be your... girlfriend?

Let’s say you’re willing to consider dating (much) younger men. OkCupid blogger Christian Rudder makes an eloquent case for the older woman/younger man scenario that is well worth reading. Some of the Gen Y types who approach my clients do appear to be sincerely interested in forging a relationship with an older woman. Many write eloquently about it in their messages and their profiles, and why not? Women typically outlive men by 5-6 years. Our more complex sexual responses see us aging differently in the bedroom than our male counterparts (and for us, it’s often more a matter of desire than physiological function). If you’re interested, and you do not discriminate against others on the basis of that which they cannot change, then you owe them the same consideration you’d show anyone else on the site. Don’t write back to the ones who say, “Wow, you’re a total GILF and I want to lick you all over.” But the ones who put real thought into a message – who have obviously read your profile, not just noted your age – deserve a thoughtful, flirtatious reply just like you’d send a chronological contemporary. Thank them for reaching out to you, and answer any questions they ask. Ask some questions of your own. What have you got to lose?