Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Online Dating Basics: Know Your Rights

A lot of the people I talk to seem easily frustrated by their dating website experiences. I often think that’s because they’re worrying about matters that really should not concern them. In this yenta’s opinion, some clarification is needed around some pretty basic issues. I’m drafting an Online Dating Charter of Rights so that we can all stop wasting time on the unproductive behaviours that lead to internet dating burnout.

Know your rights, ladies! You too, gents.

You have the right to remain silent. Opinions on the matter vary, but I don’t write back to people who don’t interest me. Not for myself, and not on behalf of my clients. Even if they seem really really nice, or have clearly taken some time to craft their message to you. On the few occasions I’ve bothered to write a nice let-down message, it’s bitten me in the ass and fast. Unless you think they’d be perfect for someone else you know, just don’t bother. It’ll save everyone time in the long run, even the person you’re rejecting. You also have the right to refuse to answer any question that makes you uncomfortable. You can choose to ignore it, or you can simply say, “I’d rather not share that with you right now, if you don’t mind” and carry on nicely, if you like everything else that’s happened so far. But you are never obligated to respond, ever.

You have the right to know what you like. Do you prefer tall women? Are you utterly opposed to dating a police officer? Do non-drinkers make you as nervous as raging alcoholics? Have you got lots of male friends with goatees, but couldn’t stand the thought of kissing one? Well, go right ahead and say it! There is utterly no point to being coy about these things. But make sure that you say it nicely, and not in the threatening “you’d better not send me a message if” fashion that so many people seem to employ online. Stating your preferences as a warning, like a bitter Buffalo border guard on the graveyard shift, doesn’t exactly invite others to get friendly with you. In my work I have sometimes avoided messaging potential matches because even though my clients did fit their criteria quite nicely, the way the candidate laid out his or her parameters was simply off-putting.

You have the right to expect a picture. There is absolutely no reason, at this point in history, for anyone to be ashamed of the fact that they are online dating. If you are, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. I don’t care if the person promises to send pictures later on. You’ve got a picture up, why don’t they? (Please tell me you have a picture up.) Worried their mom/boss/neighbour/ex is going to see it? Well, just what are they doing there themselves? Seriously, the people who don’t have pictures online – or who only share pictures of animals, cars, or cartoon characters – are hiding something. I don’t know what it is, but I guarantee you won’t like it. Don’t bother with these paranoid Luddites because they’re probably married anyway.

You have the right to change your mind. After one message, after three messages, after twelve. (Please don’t let it get to twelve messages before you meet somebody though. See below for more clarification.) You don’t have to answer any questions you don’t like. You don’t have to come up with excuses as to why you didn’t write back immediately, or jump on the offer of a meeting. It’s really important to trust your instincts when it comes to online dating. It’s not “shopping for people,” but when you’re at the pre-meeting stage, you are allowed to hit pause, rewind, or erase at any point. Most dating sites have a “hide” or “block” feature; use it if the person doesn’t take your backing away well. While it’s preferable to be upfront about it and not just disappear on someone you’ve been messaging, if they’ve done something to upset or offend you, you owe them nothing.

You have the right to request a meeting. If you’ve been messaging back and forth with someone, and things are going reasonably well, then it does not make sense to keep playing pen pals. Three messages sent and three received is about as many as I feel comfortable with before I start to get antsy, and too much literary foreplay can result in greater disappointment if the real-life encounter is a bust. Why wait? Unless your schedules are mutually very crazy, there’s no reason to prolong that coffee (even though you know I don’t suggest coffee). You’ve all heard of the Catfish thing by now, right? Well, this is just how it starts.

You have the right to keep looking. There is no such thing as “exclusively messaging.” Anyone who tries to glean whether you’re also chatting with other candidates – on the same site, or others you may be using – is best avoided. Even after you’ve met in person. I advise all of my clients to avoid any suggestion of exclusivity before at least a couple of weeks (and several good dates) have passed. (Note: this is true no matter what you personally get up to on a first date!) If the person you’re seeing immediately expects you to disable your profile – or does this to their own – after a successful meeting, I don’t think that’s a good sign. I think it’s needy, impetuous, and demonstrates a lack of discernment that could lead to relationship problems in the future. You both need to approach the situation with care, and taking yourself offline every time someone turns your head makes you seem flaky. It’ll be noticeable to other users, too.

I’m now opening the floor to comments. What other internet dating rights (or responsibilities) do people need to respect? And as always, be sure to visit Junia.ca to learn more about my work and available services.

September Song: why “Back to School” is a great time to date online

Cooler temperatures increasing cuddling requirements come Autumn

The back-to-school season is huge in the dating world. I have a number of theories about this. Today I’ll use them to formulate a droll and convincing argument aimed at persuading you to join the masses of single people who have already recognized that it’s only 109 days until the new year, and decided to find someone they’d actually like to kiss when it happens. Apparently you internet people love lists, so here are three good reasons you should give your online dating profile a dust-off this fall. With accompanying music, because I’m not only a matchmaker, I’m also a DJ:

You’ll have a jump on the competition. The peak season for online dating is the week surrounding New Year’s Eve, according to a researchers at Match.com. A lengthy googling failed to identify exactly who these “researchers” were, or how that research was conducted, but I’m not going to dispute it. (Heck, even your postman would probably agree, if you asked him nicely.) My own time working at The Very Expensive Old-Fashioned Dating Network That Shall Not Be Named completely corroborates this idea. Huge numbers of new clients would appear immediately after January 1st, but we also dealt with a lot of angry people. Why? Because our office was actually closed for the entire holiday season – much to the distress of huge numbers of clients who didn’t really plan on being alone. Luckily, internet dating sites are “open” 24/7 – but don’t let that notion encourage you to drag your feet now. Because for every person who jumps on the New Year’s bandwagon, there’s another who’s disappeared because they’ve already found someone, or don’t want to be “seen” online during a time that should be filled with fellowship and festivity! And what if they’re THE ONE? (I know, I’m evil. Hee hee!)

September is the new year for many people. First of all, I’d like to take this moment to offer a belated Shana Tova! to my Jewish readers, and a happy 5774 to all. Why do you think that calendar has sixteen months in it, anyway? When was the last time you bought yourself a whole bunch of new clothes for the middle of winter? Back to school is the new year as far as our social lives are concerned. Everyone’s had about as much fun as they can with the friends they already have all summer, and it’s time for a change. Even if you’re not in school, chances are you’re taking on some new challenge. You’re at least ready to stop slacking off in some aspect of your life that you’ve neglected over the lazy, hazy, crazy weeks of July and August. Why take your romantic future any less seriously? Again, I’ll refer to my experience when I worked on The Love Boat, that sinking ship of broken and expensive dreams. We had our second-biggest rush of the year during September, and the same thing is happening online right now. When I’m looking for prospective partners for my clients, I often search by “newest user” rather than “last visit” to avoid seeing the same profiles over and over again. As expected, there’s been a big surge in new faces! And traffic on my existing clients’ profiles has at least doubled in the last couple of weeks.

Don't wait until the holidays to look for love! Untitled (Our prices are insane), 1987, by Barbara Kruger

I’m having a sale! Okay, so my last reason is a blatant plug. If you’ve read all this and thought, “So? More people online doesn’t mean mo’ better people. Online dating sucks, why would I want to do more of it? No one good ever writes back to me anyway,” you are the person who should be writing to me. That’s right, I’m having my own “back to school” sale between now and Canadian Thanksgiving – or Columbus Day in the U.S. – or Indigenous People’s day all over Turtle Island. Let’s just call it Monday, October 14th. I’m offering $25 off my thoroughly effective Junia Express Package. This one-time service involves an hour-long consultation with me (via Skype, telephone, or in person, depending on your location) and the creation of your new online dating presence for up to two websites. I’ll also follow that up with a half-hour coaching session to help you handle the increase in traffic on your profile. One new client who came on board just last week has already seen his profile traffic increase by roughly 400%, and gone on a very successful date with a woman who had ignored him the four previous times he messaged her! Yeah, I’m that good.

And if you think you’re fine on your own, then please enjoy one last song: a bizarre, yet endearing version of the titular Kurt Weill classic by the lead singer of Echo and the Bunnymen. Happy hunting, everyone!