Archive for November, 2008

20 million people visit at least one online dating service every month. What are they all looking for?

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

matchcom.jpgBy CAROLINE DOHACK

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Traditionally, we meet our partners through venues that serve as common bonds — school, work, church — or through family and friends. But as many are discovering, online dating has its own advantages.

Find your match How many fish are in the sea? Probably as many as there are online dating services. Here is a breakdown of a few of them:

eHarmony: After filling out a lengthy personality survey, the site will find potential matches using a patented compatibility matchmaking system. This is a subscription-based service geared toward people seeking long-term relationships. 20% off a 6 month subscription. Code: CJSUMMERPROMOAABB. Expiration: Nov 30th 2008

Yahoo Personals: Probably the largest dating sites with more than 15 million members. 7 day free trial.

Match: pioneered the internet dating industry, launching in 1995 what is now the most recognized dating service worldwide and today serves more than 15 million singles. Includes Christian, Jewish, Senior, Asian, Black, Gay dating.. Match has it all. Current Offer: 72 hours free trial.

According to data from Online Dating magazine, a consumer watchdog publication for online daters, more than 20 million people visit at least one online dating service a month, and more than 120,000 marriages occur each year as a result of online dating.

“Online dating is the best thing to ever happen to shy people,” said Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating. “They get to know someone via the computer, and then they feel more comfortable meeting them personally.”

Furthermore, there might not be many people looking for partners at those traditional meeting venues, Tracy said. “When you go online, you know there are people looking for the same thing,” he said.

Dave Evans, likens dating to job hunting. You still want to meet people, but you also look for other ways to make yourself known. “Your profile is your resume. You want to get out there and share it,” Evans said.

Online dating also gives people the chance to search for people with similar interests.

“If you’re the type of person who dresses up as a Klingon on Halloween and you actually know the Klingon language, you can find somebody who matches those exact interests,” Tracy said.

And for many, finding a partner with similar interests and attributes is important. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that online daters often seek partners with qualities similar to those they reported on their own profiles. It’s not that people are looking for carbon copies of themselves. Rather, they want to feel comfortable with a potential partner. Someone with blue eyes won’t be going outside his or her comfort zone by dating someone with brown eyes, the study said, but smokers might have a more vested interest in seeking other smokers.

But getting outside those comfort zones opens up more possibilities. Maybe you like hip-hop, and she likes classical music. “Does that mean we’re not right for each other?” Evans said.

Still, some people prefer niche dating services, which narrow the selection by focusing on a hobby, lifestyle, religion or other aspect of life. For instance, is a popular site for Jewish singles.

What kind of dating site is best for you? Consider your goals. If you’re just looking for something casual, free services such as Yahoo! Personals have the most users. But for those seeking serious, long-term relationships, paid sites such as tend to attract like-minded people.

Once you decide on a site, here are some tips for making the connection:

● Get a new e-mail address specifically for online-dating correspondence, and don’t use your full name. You don’t want anyone using that information to track you down.

● For safety’s sake, don’t include identifying information such as phone number, last name or place of employment. If you have children, don’t post their photos or include too much information about them. “You’re putting this information out, and anybody in the world can read it,” Tracy said.

● Post a photo, preferably one that actually looks like you. Researchers at the University of Chicago found women who posted photos received twice as many e-mails than those who did not, and men who posted photos received 50 percent more e-mails.

● Write for whom you hope to attract. If you value a sense of humor, convey it through your profile. If you like a certain genre of movies, include little references. Your best matches will understand what you mean.

● Avoid clichés. This will help you stand out. “What people don’t realize is you’re seen in a series,” Evans said. “I’ve looked at 20 women before you, and I’ll look at 20 women after you.”

● Be truthful. You never know when a lie will come back to bite you.

● Be positive. Statements like “my last relationship left me emotionally scarred and cynical” won’t get you anywhere.

● Use spell-check.

Finally, if you’re worried about being judged for looking online, a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project Report found that only 29 percent of Internet users surveyed believe online daters “are in dire dating straits.” But these respondents, according to the report, tend to have less online experience and are less trusting of people in general.

Most view online dating as a way to use technology to enhance their lives.

“It’s another arrow in the quiver of opportunities to meet somebody,” Evans said.