Have yourself a Ten Boy Summer! June Dating News

Equal marriage supporters rejoice as DOMA is struck down. (Photo: Washington Post)

Congratulations to our friends in the United States of America! “Lawfully-married couples living in marriage equality states will soon have equal access to all the federal rights and benefits based on marital status,” according to a statement from the equal marriage advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. The organization will continue to lobby hard for changes so that all Americans may eventually marry the person they love, should they choose to do so.

No matter who you wish to marry, Scientists have been looking into whether your chances of doing so happily are increased if you’ve met your love on the internet. At the beginning of the month, I personally rejoiced at the finding by University of Chicago researchers that couples who met online had a slightly higher – but statistically significant – chance of staying married than those who had met in “traditional” circumstances. (If someone can accurately describe how I’d spot those in the wild, I’d love to hear it.)

Then yesterday, some spoilsports over at LoveLearnings had to ruin my celebrations. (That’s a terrible name for a company, by the way. I really can’t stand that plural gerund, but I guess “love lessons” must have been taken.) These self-styled relationship experts conducted their own research, which found that online dating does not offer users a better chance of establishing a long-term relationship.

However, even that “study” found that, “Despite the fact that online dating fails to increase the odds of finding a lifelong partner, it still offers several welcome benefits. For one, it allows users to interact with other singles quickly and easily. Secondly, the presence of niche dating websites allows people to narrow the focus of their search to a very specific subgroup. But perhaps most importantly, internet dating websites offer a new place for single people seeking companionship to meet and interact, which is a welcome alternative to traditional meeting places such as bars and nightclubs.” And yes, I’m putting “study” in quotation marks. Because despite getting Dr. Harry Reis of the University of Rochester to cough up a verbal blurb at the end, there were no actual Scientists involved.

You could also have a ten girl summer, or something in between

Of course, even if you spend time in such traditional meeting places as bars and nightclubs (really?), your chances of someone actually asking you out are apparently slim. Just ask the sad, beautiful, lonely millennials, who recently lamented to UK tabloid The Sun that “Men never chat us up!” They blame online dating for this, incredibly. Amongst others, this article details the tragic tale of Becca, a 32-year-old “client relationship director” from Leeds who has never been asked out in her entire life. (Despite having had two long-term relationships, which I guess must have begun when she suddenly found herself in someone else’s bed.)

Guess what, Becca? I’ve got ten years on you, and I have only ever been asked out in person by confused foreigners in the subway. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is (mumble mumble) years younger than me, and has been on more dates than he’s had hot dinners, or so it seems. Why? He uses the internet. It isn’t a mystery. The days of people asking people out on actual dates were over before I even hit adolescence, from what I can tell. I don’t have a single friend – male or female, straight or queer, younger, or anything but a lot older – whose story is any different. Dear reader, I’d love to think that my friends and I are anomalies, so please share your tales if you disagree.

Since it’s finally here, I would like to be the first to wish you all a Ten Boy Summer! Feel free to substitute your noun of choice for Boy, but make it your goal to go out with – or at least kiss – ten new people this year. It’s a tradition that my brilliant trainer and friend Eleni started many years ago, back before I helped her find her husband. It will make you feel better. I promise! And if you need my help finding ten people to kiss, visit http://junia.ca/.

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?

Fall Fling: a dating and relationships news roundup

This may be our last time to get it on outside in a long time, darling!

Autumn – arguably the most romantic season – has been a busy one for Junia Matchmaking Services, but I’m trying to keep up on current events regardless. Lovers take heart! I’m still here for you.

According to naturopath Natasha Turner, there are plenty of good reasons to get it on a regular basis, including stress relief, pain reduction, mood enhancement and immune boosting. Sounds like an excellent incentive to take off some of those kicky fall layers!

But just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean you’re supposed to do it right away, apparently – at least, not if you want to get married. According to The Independent, “More than half the women who married directly had deferred sexual involvement for longer than six months, compared with only 6.5 per cent of women who were cohabiting. The couples were also asked about the quality of their relationships, including giving scores for commitment, intimacy, sexual satisfaction, communication and conflict. Results show that for women, all the scores were better if sex was delayed for one month. A similar trend was found for men, but the differences were not so great.” A more in-depth conversation with one of the study’s authors can be found here.

Speaking of marriage, we’re all really inordinately depressed about Danny and Rhea – but why? Setting aside the fact that they are the couple most clearly made for each other in the history of time – if only from a height perspective – theories abound. Zosia Bielski, writing in the Globe and Mail, suggests that the only time the public-at-large empathizes with celebrity marital woes is when the partners have been together for decades. This supposedly erodes “our hope for our own marital longevity.” Those unlucky enough to become Adult Children of Divorce are especially whiny about it, apparently. But as offspring of a “grey divorce” myself, I’m not buying that it’s simply about my own childish refusal to accept reality. Maybe it’s time to rethink our expectations of marriage – which developed hundreds if not thousands of years ago – as a life sentence? As one of my friends opined when I wrote about this on Facebook,

“We hold on to the idea of forever being some value to live up to instead of appreciating the time for what it is. It was easy to be married for life when two of your three wives were going to die in childbirth.”

Singles take heart! Do you have opposite-gender friends? A recent study finds they’re secretly really hot for you. Note to all my male friends – you haven’t been fooling me for a second.

“Telling women how to improve themselves in order to come by a spouse only devalues marriage. It makes it a fake accolade of success, like a designer handbag.” Author Helen Croydon takes on that thrice-married know-it-all Tracy McMillan, who has expanded one of the most simplistic and offensive blogs I’ve ever read into a snarky self-help book: Why You’re Not Married… Yet. Here’s Croydon’s review/response, published in The Telegraph.

Ready to give up yet? Don’t! The Atlas Moth, probably the most gorgeous insect on the planet, has it way worse than we do – hardwired to pursue love every second of its seven-day existence. I can think of worse ways to go.

Online Dating Basics: Speak No Eejit, or What Not to Say on a 1st Date

"Is this your first time meet--"

When it comes to a first meeting, the old adage stands. Some things are better left unsaid. Here are a few examples that come up more often than you’d think:

1. “I thought you’d be _______er.”
Even if you think it’s a compliment. Just don’t.

2. “This is way better than I thought it would be!”
This sort of remark might meet with hearty head-nodding agreement if your companion is also “feeling it” in exactly the same way you are, at exactly the moment you say it. But otherwise, it’s the sort of statement that could dangle awkwardly in the air should the jukebox suddenly cut out. “Oh really? Well just how bad did you think it would be?”

It casts doubt on everyone’s motives for being there, and suggests a certain amount of frivolity on the part of the speaker. “What have I got to lose?” is of course the underlying mantra of everyone who takes a chance on love with a stranger – but let’s not say it out loud.

3. “Oh my god, don’t look now, but…”
Unless a famous celebrity has just walked into the room, there is no way that your date wants to hear the rest of this sentence. I don’t care if it’s your ex-wife’s mother’s secret lover who is cheating on her with your former high school basketball coach – and neither does your date. If you’re genuinely risking an encounter with the boss who thought you went home sick, or something similarly grave, simply say,

“Why don’t we take that table over there? It’s a little drafty by the door.”

Muster up some practical excuse as to why you need to turn the back of your sportcoat to the vengeful part-time model you dated for six weeks after college – the one who’s currently making a beeline for your part of the bar. Do not give the details, no matter how intriguing they may be, or may make you look. Protect yourself and your companion from any awkward encounters, but save the backstory for the speech you make at your engagement party. Your date will find it far funnier in the future.

4. “So why are you still single?”
See #1. Even if you think it’s a compliment.

5. “Do you mind if we split the bill?”
Whoever asks, pays. If that isn’t clearly happening by the time the check comes, just offer to pay – or say nothing and wait. If you’re desperate to escape, here’s what you do: settle your own tab privately with the server. Return to the table and say, “I’ve settled up and I’m going to take off – it was a pleasure meeting you – good night!”

There’s no point in quibbling over petty finances with someone you don’t want to see again. If you do – unless you’re truly interested in finding out right away how good or bad a tipper your companion is – bill-splitting just makes everyone look cheap, feel awkward, and reminds us all how badly our arithmetic skills have deteriorated since elementary school. Even if you’re not a well-off person. It’s a first date. If you can’t afford to pay for both of you (and you suggested the date), you might want to think of a free option next time.

Ask Anne M.: Does playing The Dating Game make you a player?

Playful for Romance writes:

I met someone I’m really attracted to on Saturday. It was obvious the connection was mutual. Numbers were exchanged. On Sunday, we made a date for this Wednesday.

From the conversation, I know to be ready for more than just more conversation – but also that I would be remiss not to suggest a plant identification walk that evening.

The problem is, I have already invited two others who see me as housemate material, but who haven’t ruled out romance. Since taking up with someone around the same time as moving in with them seems unwise, I’ve been taking my time, deciding to see if the question of romance gets clarified one way or another.

"And now it's time to meet our three eligible bachelorettes - and heeeerrrrre they are!"

In that context, if both showed up, it could be easier to get a good sense of who likes who what way before the end of the summer comes and I am in need of a new address.

But to then show up with a date I’m definitely more into seems a bit much – and the lame-ass extrication of “something else came up” would be absolutely farcical. So I won’t be doing the latter, and see no way around risking the former.

The question then is: having created this potential mess, how do I handle myself?

Anne M. responds:

Playful for Romance seems a bit of an understatement, darling. Perhaps Fiercely Competitive might be a more appropriate moniker? Or Downright Greedy? We should all have problems like yours. Nice conundrum if you can get it!

I suspect you’re really nice, and that’s why you’re having a hard time with the fact that you’ve got yourself in this pickle. That makes it harder to give you the “tough love” treatment here. I hate to be so harsh, but I had to read your question three times to figure out even who was who. So what does that tell you? You’re probably not going to like my answer, because I don’t want you to handle yourself in a situation that you have definitely unnecessarily complicated. Sorry.

I’m not sure what your work or social circumstances are, but unless you’re an on-call transplant surgeon, I can’t excuse your deliberately double (or is it triple?) booking yourself for what should be a first proper date with this new person.

Just because you have the possibly perverse (but probably merely practical) desire to throw all these unsuspecting potential admirers into an impromptu speed dating situation doesn’t mean they should go along with it. Or be subjected to it unwittingly. First dates are hard enough without having to figure out who all the extra people are, never mind wonder why they’ve also been invited along. If I were your date, I’d probably assume you regretted having asked me out individually, or fret that I’d misread your friendly intentions as romantic interest.

If you follow through with this plan, at least one of them is going to figure out what’s happening while it’s happening. And then you will be toast, likely with all of them. I’m not even going to bother doing the research here. This one’s pure instinct. Without an incredible poker face and very finely honed social/diplomatic skills, you’re going home empty-handed – or worse, in the company of someone who is so insecure or used to being treated inconsiderately that they don’t even realize they deserve your full and undivided attention.

You need to stick to the original plan you had with the two potential housemates, and you need to tell the new candidate that you misspoke when you suggested Wednesday. (Or agreed to it – I’m not sure who proposed that specific date.) Having had a look at your schedule, it turns out Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday might be better. Don’t let it go past the one-week mark, though.

If you really like the idea of the plant-identification walk, then just do it again. And you’ll be just as excited about it as you were the first time – but better. You’ll have had a rehearsal, at least.

"Okay Miss Playful, it's time to choose a bachelor!"

Unless you’re planning some sort of modern ménage à trois, I’d also advise you to figure out as quickly as possible which of your future housemate possibilities intrigues you the most, and take care of that situation before you move in. Because otherwise, you’re being really sneaky already, and that’s not a good quality in someone with whom you’re going to share a living space.

This isn’t a game show, and it isn’t all about you. Stop playing around, sort out your schedule, and despite the myriad of options that may be before you, take them on one at a time, please.

There will be plenty of opportunity to complicate things later, and it sounds like you’re more than up to that challenge!

Lizard cures loneliness, “Gaggle” girls claim dating’s dead, and who’s still single in Silicon Valley

I'm just using him as a pillow

Parthenowhaa? Apparently some resourceful lizard known as the whiptail has figured out how to have it all – yes, even kids – without having a man in her life. Good news for lonely hearts who find themselves isolated in the Sonoran desert.
(via The Guardian)

In an unsurprisingly antiquated-feeling address to a congress of private girls’ day school operators in the U.K., the snooty Head of said association opined, “It’s not just about finding a husband who does the Hoovering and makes the dinner. It’s about finding one who really understands it is important for you to thrive and do well in whatever you choose to do. They should be cheerleaders and take pride in their wife’s career as they do in their own.” Umm – I know these are girls’ schools and all, but should that not at least be “partner?” Yikes. What year is this again?
(via The Telegraph)

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the striking-down of anti-miscegenation laws in the remaining 17 (all Southern) states that still had them on books, thus preventing inter-racial marriage. Richard and Mildred Loving – the Virginia couple whose illegal 1958 marriage brought the issue (and their case) all the way to the Supreme Court – are paid tender tribute by one-half of one of millions of couples who have benefited from their bravery in Ebony magazine.

Do we live in a post-dating world? According to the authors of the new book The Gaggle, women should all be taking advantage of “the group of men in your life who you may not be dating.” Must be easier than it sounds.
(via The Village Voice)

According to a recent poll, 1 in 4 Canadians has tried online dating. Look to your left – your right – the person ahead of you – down at your shoes. How are we supposed to even tell?
(via The Vancouver Observer)

Geek lovers, take heart – just because Zuck’s off the market doesn’t mean you can’t still get as lucky as Priscilla Chan. The New York Times has thoughtfully provided a round-up of Silicon Valley’s remaining eligible millionaires for your convenience.

Online Dating Basics: What’s in a (screen) name?

It’s the first thing a potential partner sees, before they’ve even clicked on your profile. It’s got to be good. So why are so many of them so bad?

No one old enough to remember The Sopranos (never mind The Godfather) wants to read that MobBoss4Ever is interested in taking them on a date. What if they give you a kiss at the end of the night?

RUthe14me007 has either feebly conceded that that six other people on the same dating site have already posed this hopeful question and doesn’t care – or decided to toss in a common Ian Fleming reference as an afterthought. (Possibly at the risk of alienating those who don’t care about the difference between shaken and stirred, or know a lazy allusion when they see one.)

MobBoss4Ever

We’re all capable of recognizing bad screen names. How do you make sure yours isn’t one of them? What does it take to create a good one?

1. Be witty. If comedy is part of your charm arsenal – and wordplay in particular – then by all means, come up with a clever name. Lines from films/tv, works of literature, songs or other pop culture references are acceptable – but try not to date yourself, or choose something indelibly associated with a cheesy character. No one wants to meet therealRonBurgundy, really.
Really. They don’t.

2. Be memorable. Long strings of digits or acronyms stress people out. You don’t want someone struggling to remember your profile. It’s hard enough keeping the passwords straight for three different social networks and two online dating sites. Why confuse people who may be too busy to commit complicated equations to memory? Type in your desired screen name. If every reasonable variation on it is taken, and you’re looking at adding numbers or letters, you may want to let it go – for it was never really yours, was it?

Oh look, REDNECKRAMPAGE69 wants to meet me! How enticing!

3. Be appealing. It’s tempting to resort to self-deprecation when putting yourself out there. While LoserInLove might be a name to which everyone else can relate, why make that negative association with your profile? If it’s the dark, rueful laughter of self-recognition you’re after, why not call yourself I’llDieAlone?

4. Be accurate. Don’t reveal your real name – certainly not your surname – but try to pick a persona that relates in some way to the content of your profile. Incorporate your interests or ideals, or a favourite activity. Don’t make it too broad – there are enough SportsGuys out there already. Choose something that resonates with you, or is likely to pique the curiosity of others. Refer to your passion or your job rather than your hair colour or your pet. A nuclear physicist will attract more appropriate partners with a screen name like AtomSmasher than they would with KittyLover.

5. Be smart. Or at least, look smart. Make sure everything’s spelled correctly. If Nietzchefan is already taken, don’t choose Neitzchefan instead. Avoid cutesy spellings. No adult looking for the real thing spells love l-u-v. Cut that out immediately.

Give your online persona a name that embodies at least two of these five characteristics, and any contacts you make will be much more likely to result in actual profile views. If you’re still confused, I’m offering a special summer screen name consultation – I’ll take a peek at your profile and produce 5 available names for $25. I’d be happy to help the first ten people who contact me. Don’t let your hastily-concocted combo of letters and numbers, cringe-inducing joke, or unintentionally suggestive first name – yes, I’m talking to you randy1974 – compel someone to delete your message before they’ve even seen your picture.

Ask Anne M.: Do good dates come to those who wait?

"Message me. Adore me. OBEY!"

NEW TO THE GAME writes:

I recently joined a dating website, and my best friend and others assure me the best approach is never to make the first move. Not even a wink. What are your thoughts about a woman making the first move in an online dating environment?

ANNE M. responds:

Wow, New to the Game, that’s strange advice. I’d be curious as to where this sage wisdom is coming from. The happily married? Someone who’s never online dated? Let’s set aside traditional patriarchal gender roles for a moment (I’m no big fan of them anyway). If this sit-back-and-wait approach had any value, how would gay men and lesbians ever meet each other on dating sites? As my very smart (and happily married) friend Elisa says, “You want something? You go get it. Online dating is passive and remote enough without imposing arbitrary rules of engagement.”

I couldn’t agree more. When you do so, you risk never hearing from the type of people you really want to meet. If just staring at a particularly appealing profile yielded results, no one would need my services. People who are serious about meeting someone take action. I know it’s hard. Society doesn’t encourage women to be romantically assertive. Regardless, for the sake of potentially emboldening shy types everywhere – regardless of gender or sexual orientation – I will share the following observations:

1. Simply knowing that someone finds you attractive makes them more attractive to you. Maybe not in the same way – at least not at first – but it does tend to at least pique one’s curiosity about a person to find out that they’re into you. Because even if you thought they were a total social write-off before you had that information, you now know one rock-solid truth about them: they have excellent taste in you. (For those of you who love studies as much as I do, there is research to back up my assertion.)

Online dating is passive and remote enough without imposing arbitrary rules of engagement.

I remember once getting a rose in high school, through some student-council sponsored exchange that delivered stems to lucky recipients in their home rooms on Valentine’s Day. The guy who’d sent mine was someone I knew by name only – he was a little older and we shared a class because I was fast-tracking to graduate early. He was smart, presentable, friendly and well-spoken, but had previously made no impression on me. Yet that day in class, I couldn’t help but notice all sorts of things I’d never seen before. Like his really nice arms, and really blue eyes… and although it didn’t turn into a great romance, I did go out with him a few times. That never would have happened had he not been confident enough to express his interest.

2. Men are surprised, but not unpleasantly surprised, when a woman makes the first move. If you visit any of the numerous forums in which men discuss their online dating woes (and believe me, they are agonizing about this stuff just as much as you are) you will find that most of them report very few females initiating contact. But almost all of the men weighing in on the topic suggest that they’d love it if that happened more frequently. Nearly universally they express that unless there’s something really wrong with the sender’s profile, they would respond to the message at the very least. When I used to work for a high-end matchmaking agency, male clients were always thrilled if I told them that the woman I’d matched them with wished to call first (rather than the other way around).

It might also be a useful empathy-building exercise to try messaging someone who hasn’t sent one to you first. Because isn’t that the huge (and potentially humiliating) risk a man takes every time he initiates contact with you? The absolute cornucopia of information that is oktrends has even mined okCupid user data to identify some of the most effective things to write in a first message, if you’re stumped.

3. Online dating is supposed to be fun. Why not try something different? You’re able to make moves on the Internet that would be difficult to pull off in a face-to-face or even telephone conversation. There’s room to breathe, think about things before you write them – particularly if you’re not instant messaging. Embrace the experience. Make the most of it. You’re online because you want to date. Flirt, smile, wink, message. Put yourself out there. Otherwise, you and that great guy whose friends also gave him this nugget of wisdom will keep circling, but never meet.

True or False: “I Just Knew”

 

"I looked into his eyes and I just knew." Yeah, right.

A recent search in my quest to answer a perennial client question, “How do you know they’re The One?” yielded some predictable results. It appears this very universal – and to those who have not yet known the pleasure, rather pressing – query has provoked very little in the way of academic inquiry. Nobody’s gathering the data, despite an abundance of anecdotal evidence – and much of that is unenlightening, repetitive, and downright useless as a source of information or even inspiration. So many of them also read like love at first sight stories that my natural skepticism kicks in.

Of course, I also remember the two recent studies which found that subjects induced to exchange mutual unbroken gaze for two minutes with a stranger of the opposite sex reported increased feelings of passionate love for each other.

"If I stare at you hard enough, you might just be The One"

In addition, BBC Science reports that New York professor of psychology Dr. Arthur Aron conducted a related experiment in which he “asked two complete strangers to reveal to each other intimate details about their lives. This carried on for an hour and a half. The two strangers were then made to stare into each others eyes without talking for four minutes. Afterwards many of his couples confessed to feeling deeply attracted to their opposite number and two of his subjects even married afterwards.

I’m in no position to conduct my own study currently, never mind publish it – my crack web designer and programmer is still busy making our polls look as pretty as they should. But I am in a fairly unique position to judge the quality of such true-life tales. So I want to hear from you, lovers – particularly those who are currently enjoying smug soul-mate status with somebody special.

But for love’s sake, please don’t tell me “I looked into his/her/their eyes and I just knew.” Because seriously – while that may have been when the moment of realization dawned, unless you were hypnotized, you should be able to recall some of the details leading up to that instant.

What did The One (or as I prefer to style it, The One You Chose) do or say just before you “just knew”? What time of year was it? What were you wearing? What were they wearing? Did you have to pee? Could you smell anything funny? Or did it really just hit you then and there? And if that’s the case, how on earth did you recover from, and cover (or reveal) that realization? Come now – dish the dirt here, or in the (moderated) comments. Give us some hope. Bonus points if you met them online. I won’t publish everything, but I’ll read them all – that’s a promise.