first dates

 

Guest blog written by:

Jason Lee

Professional Dating Site Reviewer

Our Best Online Dating Sites

 

What’s the very first thing you look at when you’re browsing through online dating matches? Their hobbies? Their profession? Nope. If we’re all being honest, the first thing that we always look at is someone’s pictures. We have to know if they’re a cutie with a booty or someone who scares little children and incites panic with only a glare.

While this may seem shallow, it’s the reality of the world we live in and our nature as humans. We can get over dating someone who likes knitting or works a dirty job, but we’d be hard-pressed to be able to date someone who we weren’t attracted to. This is why no matter how “not shallow” we are, we always look at the photos first.

You probably knew that already, but here’s what you may not have realized. If you’re doing this and we’re doing this, and all of our readers are doing this, then it means that everyone who is looking at your profile is doing this too. This means that your online dating photos are your first and possibly only chance to make a good impression on a potential match.

So, are your online dating photos up to par? Well, it only takes a few minutes of poking around any dating site to see that everyone (including you) needs some help. As a professional at writing online dating site reviews, I spend hours every day on multiple sites and…how do I put this gently…you should read this post at least twice.

To help you increase your online dating success, I’ve compiled the top five mistakes that I see with online dating photos. If you’re committing one of these cardinal sins, you’re hurting your chances of finding that special someone.

 

Your Photographer Should be Fired

 

 

If your dating photos look like they were taken with a potato for a camera, you’ve got issues. The first word that pops into a new matches head should not be “blurry.” When your photos are clear, it accomplishes a few things. First, it allows matches to get a better idea of what you look like. This means they’ll be able to make a more accurate judgement of whether they are attracted to you or not. If you’re blurring your photos on purpose to hide what you look like, you’re just setting yourself up for an awkward (and probably short) first date. We’ll leave that issue for another discussion, though.

Second, clear photos instill trust. If your pictures look like they’re hiding something, your potential match is going to think that you’re hiding something too. Invest the time to take a clear photo or get the help of a professional. Hint Hint.

 

You’re Not Telling Anything About You

 

 

online dating photosOnline dating profiles might seem like they’re packed full of information at first glance, but in reality, they’re relatively short. You have to convey who you are, how you operate, and what’s important to you in a relatively short amount of space. If you aren’t using your online dating photos to do this for you,

you’re making a mistake.

Do you like rock climbing? Show people with a photo! Like being outside? Don’t make all of your pictures be of you in front of a white wall in your living room. You don’t have to go crazy with this tip, but you should be aware of it. Plenty of your pictures can be “boring” but make sure that at least a few of them show that you’re more than just a face and a white wall.

 

You’re Compromising Your Security

 

If there is one blunder on this list that baffles me (and scares me) the most, it’s this one. You need to be aware of what you are showing in your pictures as well as what is in the background. I wish I were making this next story up, but it’s true. Over the years, I’ve been an avid online dater, and this is the single story that sticks out the most.

I had to message a girl one day because she had taken a picture of herself at work in front of her computer. Harmless, right? Well, she apparently did not realize that she had left her log-in information and her password for her work files on a sticky note attached to her computer where anyone looking at her profile could see them clear as day.

You HAVE to take some time and make sure that you aren’t releasing sensitive information in your photos. Make sure you don’t have phone numbers, the address on your house, street signs that show where you live, computer passwords, your work badge/ID, or anything else that has sensitive information that you don’t want everyone on the internet to see. Nurses…you’re the biggest culprits with your hospital ID badges or your branded scrubs. If you’re trying to get creepy guys or gals to show up at your work uninvited, that’s a great first step.

 

You’re not Bringing Your A-Game

 

How much effort do you put into taking pictures when you’re selling your car? You probably spend hours getting the car cleaned, vacuumed, and into the perfect lighting for its photo shoot. How much time and effort did you spend to take your online dating photos? Just grabbed a few from Facebook? Snapped a quick selfie with your webcam?

Finding someone to spend the rest of your life with should be a lot more important than how quickly you sell your car. You should be feeling pretty silly now if you’re not bringing your A-Game to the table with your pictures. Online dating is a straightforward process. The more effort you put in, the more you should hope to get in return. If you bring your C-Game, expect mediocre results. If you bring your A-Game, you can expect to get what you’re looking for.

 

You’re Not Putting in Any Effort

 

Does this mistake seem eerily similar to the last one? That’s because it is. It’s THAT important that we’re going to hammer it home again. Not only do you need to bring your best with your photos, but you need to put in effort continually. Been a few months since you started online dating? Take the time to take some new photos. Not getting the results you want? It’s time to add some new photos.

When you don’t put in any effort, it not only won’t pique the interest of any matches, but it’s going to convey that you’re lazy and you really aren’t serious about the process. If you want people to think you’re flaky regardless of whether you are or not, disregard this tip.

 

Putting It All Together

 

Remember, online dating is supposed to be fun and not feel like a chore. That being said, doing things the right way will help to ensure you have a much better experience. It’s kind of like Halloween. It’s a night that’s supposed to be all fun and no work. However, the more work that you put into your costume before the night, the bigger splash you’re going to make and the more fun you’re going to have. There’s nothing wrong with approaching fun things with a degree of effort and seriousness.

If you’re not sure if you’re doing things the right way, I’m going to make a suggestion. Get in touch with the awesome people here at Brand You Max and let them help. If we were talking about something silly like finding a new rug for your bathroom, I would say just wing it. But we’re talking about finding someone who may have a lasting impact on the rest of your life. If that’s not worth a little bit of seriousness and some help from an expert, we have different priorities.

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Nowadays, image is everything. Your online image, including your dating profile is out there to be admired, shunned or criticised. With Valentines Day over and for those of you still searching, we had a quick look at what people choose, what traits we favour in dating profiles, above all.

 

1. We Choose Beautiful

Much as they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I think  we can all agree on the following points. We like to look at photos of people who are well groomed, who have a nice smile, who preferably look into the camera, don’t wear sunglasses, don’t do bathroom selfies and are preferably clothed. This really isn’t too much to ask. And yet, more often than not, our experiences are, sadly, the total opposite.

 

2. We Choose Funny

The second most sought after trait is a sense of humour. Laughing help us connect, bond and gel, till we turn serious and meaningful. Not having a sense of humour, or having the wrong sense of humour and by wrong I mean offensive, lacking taste and decency is for most of us a big no-n0

 

3. We Choose Honest

No, we don’t mean somebody who says, “honest” in their every second sentence. It’s more about a sense we get from reading what they write about themselves. We’re surrounded by so much falseness in our daily lives, finding somebody that appears to be honest (until proven otherwise) is a true aphrodisiac.

 

4. We Choose Confident

Yes, we choose confident as opposed to arrogant. We all like people who are blissfully sure of themselves and inspire confidence in others. They are a pleasure to be around. They are a magnet to others. Confidence is one of the highest sought after traits that we’d like to have. We get educated, we train, we take courses, we meditate, we become speakers, all this to gain, to strengthen and to reinforce our confidence. Confidence can win wars, and sure as hell can win hearts.

 

5. We Choose Happy

Generally we’re attracted to happy, positive people. We instinctively aim to pair up with people who have a hopeful outlook on life. We accept a quirky sense of humour, some strong beliefs – it goes to character, but a general gloom and doom can wear on us and it never goes the distance.

 

6. We Choose Self-Aware

The world is changing around us and we’re changing with it. We’ve become more self- aware, more aware of others, of the needs of the planet and our role in having those needs met. We want matches who don’t smoke, who drink moderately, who recycle, who do charity work, who, in one word, care.  And in most cases, this is a non-negotiable.

 

7. We Choose Sane

Contrary to the perception that crazy is interesting, most of us tend to prefer saner versions of humanity as matches. Maybe it’s a survival instinct, maybe we’re past that faze when we thought crazy was sexy. And sane doesn’t necessarily have to mean boring, as we run from boring. There is just too much stimuli around us to accept it. But sane, we vote for that.

How to write about ourselves and choose images that tick most boxes? It should be a collective effort, whether we ask the help of a friend or of a dating consultancy service. Self-improvement however is on us.

Need help with your dating profile? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

And just so you don’t forget, below is short infographic created by Portia, who’s working at the fastest growing Thai dating site called Truly Thai, because no matter who we are and where we are, we all want the same basic traits in our matches:

Nowadays, image is everything. Your online image, including your dating profile is out there to be admired, shunned or criticised. With Valentines Day over and for those of you still searching, we had a quick look at what people choose, what traits we favour in dating profiles, above all.

 

 

Need help with your dating profile? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

And just so you don’t forget, below is short infographic created by Portia, who’s working at the fastest growing Thai dating site called Truly Thai, because no matter who we are and where we are, we all want the same basic traits in our matches:

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Online dating is the new black. Ever since almost everybody is doing it, most of us are pulled into it, no questions asked. Typically, we only ask questions after our ego and feelings of self worth had a roller coaster ride at least a few times. Then, we either give up, or if we’re brave enough, we brace ourselves and ask the crucial question : how do we find the best dating site for us?

 

1. Online Dating – a Very Real Social Experiment

Online dating is one of our most practiced social experiments to date. It’s a bit like a walk in the dark. We rely on friends to guide us what site to pick, if at all. or we just go with the flow. The most advertised site, surely the most popular one should do the trick. What could go wrong? I know, because I’ve done it myself. Has it brought me the desired results? Well, almost, but not before crashing and burning (emotionally) a few times and not before getting massively turned off the entire human race, on occasions. Because it takes all kinds and with online dating being so widely spread, it seems that many of us feel that it gives us the licence to be whatever and whomever we feel like being, as there are no consequences to be had. Yes, the online dating world has a language of its own and it’s a world on its own without rules, a sort of wild west for the uninitiated. It needs a map and it needs emerging rules and regulations, but most of all it needs to make us feel safe being in it. In all this maze, we need someone who speaks our language.

 

2.How to Find the Best Site for You? – We Ask the Experts

Out of the many guidance, comparison and review sites one of the best is reviews.com, I found. Their in debt research addresses almost every issue under the sun that us, online daters are concerned with. Starting with price, complexity of setting up a profile, demographic reach, quality of interactions, accuracy of algorithms and ending with which site is best for long term relationships, it has it all. On this note, I had a chat with Lexi Watkins, from reviews.com in order to find out more about the ground work that led to such quality research.

 

 

 

a. What was the chosen criteria that you based your selection on?

Lexi: First we started by compiling every type of dating sites we could find on the internet but excluded sites that were catered specifically to targeted audiences, meant for unscrupulous relationships, based on looks alone, or that were primarily for hookups. We were really in search of dating sites that created real and long term relationships–the kind that that could lead to marriage and everything in between. Finally, we analyzed web traffic data, algorithms, and interviewed different dating experts. That’s how we came up with the top four picks!

 

 

b. How many people worked on this complex research, and how long did it take?

Lexi:  It first started with a team that dwindled the large pool down to the top four picks. Our content team is comprised of eight people and narrowed it down for our writers to focus on. Once the top four were picked, we analyzed their usability and ease, algorithms, message/interaction quality. We also included the human element–one of our writers (a straight, single woman) created a profile on all four of our top picks to see first hand the type of messages she would receive. It took us in total six weeks of research to feel like we had gotten it right!

 

 

c.How do you keep your research up to date what with the ever changing industry?

Lexi:  We make sure that we are constantly updating our articles. When we see that there are changes in the industry or to the sites, we make sure that we make note and reevaluate or even update top picks if we see necessary. There are times where we may miss something and in those cases our devoted readers will let us know if there needs to be any tweaks. We are hoping to do dating apps in the near future because this really is an ever changing and growing industry.

It’s safe to say, that whatever stage of online dating we’re at, whether just pondering about photos and a profile, or whether we’re ready to take the plunge or shift gears, thanks to sites like reviews.com we’re not alone, help is at hand. And this help,  in the form of invaluable research and insight, is something that nowadays we can’t do without. I say, dear Lexi and team, you’re doing a great job. Keep up the good work.

Check out reviews.com today to find the best site for you.

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I’m often asked by clients which DATING site I recommend. And this is a very specific question. It’s actually an even more tailored task than profile writing, since different sites have different categories of people from various walks of life. Fact is, unless one tried almost all the dating sites, it’s literally impossible to give a fair recommendation to a client. Luckily, just as  any product or service that has a wide variety of providers, and for which there are price comparison websites, online dating sites have as well come under review where their prices are concerned. Let’s shed a bit of light onto how much does online dating really cost in the UK.

I recently had the chance to talk with Darren Williams,  the founder of Dating Price Guide, about his and his team’s efforts that led to the founding and development of their very useful site. Just like BrandYouMax, Dating Price Guide was born from the need to get it right.

According to Darren, men are especially affected by the cost of online dating  since it typically takes them a lot longer to get dates, and in addition they are the bearers of the costs of a first date, sometimes the 2nd date as well. Thus,  putting it all together can be an expensive affair.

 

1. So Darren, how long did it take you to put the site together? Weeks, months?

Initially we only had a few pages up so the first bit of content was live within a few weeks, once I had, had enough time to get a feel for the site really.

 

2. Have you registered with all the online dating sites listed on your website, or you had friends giving you some info as well.

 

Yes, all of the dating sites we feature I have personally used. Some more than others (eg I haven’t contacted anyone from Ashley Madison or Illicit encounters) but I also have a friend who uses some of them too, so they can help contribute their view of the site also.

 

3. How did the dating sites receive your contacting them for information? 

Most of them are very open and see it as another avenue for them to reach new customers, so they are great. It’s a friendly industry so they are pretty open if I ever need any extra info

 

4. Are you committed to keep the site accurate and up to date in this changing market?

Yes of course. I speak to some sites weekly in order to keep the prices and our offers up to date. With online dating only growing in popularity it’s only going to be more important to provide the most up to date info

 

5. Have you considered reviewing dating apps?

Yes we have. I kind of wish I had picked a better name for the site as its inherently focused on price and a lot of apps don’t charge so it kind of defeats the main purpose of our site. BUT its definitely something I want to incorporate.

 

6. How much do you think you’ve saved along the months/years that you actively dated online? 

In terms of me personally, it’s hard to say but it must be nearly £1000 if I added up all the months I had used the sites and discounts I have taken advantage of. I wouldn’t like to try and work out how much we have saved our users, but I like to think I’m providing a useful service to the community by supplying up to date dating promo codes and discounts as well as the general sign up info.


7. What’s next for Datingpriceguide? Will you start reviewing dating related niche services as well, like love coaches, matchmakers and other dating experts?

Funny you should say that. I’m planning a more general ‘review’ site that will cover the whole dating market, so that will include more niche and non-traditional methods of dating other than just the sites. I think having a one stop shop that will guide you through all of the options and services would be a great help. Dating is such an uncertain thing and so having a helping hand would be great, a lot of people don’t like to admit they are actively looking for dates (although this is changing) and so wont ask for help or guidance, I’d like to be the helping hand.

Don’t forget to visit the site regularly to get the best deal on your online dating in the UK!

Click here…

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Nowadays we’re more and more image obsessed. There is a recipe for everything, for beauty for success, for wealth, for love and our interconnected world is ready to teach us how to obtain just about everything. The first step, of course is the fantasy.  We’re sold more fantasy than we can ever handle. And that translates into our relationships as well.

Are fantasies dangerous when it comes to relationships? Or they enhance our love lives? How much is too much and where do we draw the line? is there a one size fits all, or do we all have different needs where fantasies are concerned? And what’s normal, or what’s the new normal? In my blog, as below, I’m trying to find some answers to the questions we all struggle with.  Read more here…..

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This week we’re talking to dating psychologist Madeleine Mason, about her new revolutionary reinvention of offline dating , called Power Dating.

 

1. When did you come up with the idea of Power Dating, what was your Eureka moment?

“My Eureka moment was when I was sitting in on one of the lectures run at a leadership development course I help facilitate at the NHS Staff college. We present a model on how people communicate and where
communication sometimes goes wrong. It struck me that a weakness with speed dating is that it doesn’t allow for deep connections in those 3 minutes you spend with a stranger. I then coupled this with the work Dr. Aron had done on how people connect and the research into how to get people to bond in a short timeframe. As a dating psychologist I put two and two together.”

Read more about the 1997 study by the psychologist Arthur Aron, called ‘The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness’.

 

2. Why did you think it will work?

“Power Dating works because it functions as a ‘crowd breaker’, essentially breaking the ice on a large scale, where people get connected with each other without having to have spoken to everyone else present. To see the transformation is always so fascinating to witness.”

 

3. How large are the groups of people attending?

“We have typically run events with 40 to 80 people, but there in theory there is no limit. Although I would say 25/30 is your minimum.”

 

4. How much information do they get about it beforehand?

“Not much, it doesn’t make sense to. I do an introductory lecturette that helps set the scene, and then I guide them through the Power Dating session.”

 

5. Do they get the questions in advance?

“No, the idea is to generate a shared feeling of being put on the spot. This contributes to the magic that gets created in the group.”

 

6. Is a particular age group targeted or it’s for any age group.

“It will work on any age group, the onus is on the Power Dating facilitator and helpers who do the logistics of moving people about between the question rounds to make people feel safe to open up.”

 

7. How are people paired up? Randomly or through a system?

“It is random who you get paired up with. This is mostly because after about 40 minutes you then get the opportunity to socialise with the rest of the group. Now that the crowd is broken so to speak, it makes it much easier for people who fancy each other to approach one another. This is where the magic begins.”

 

  8. Are you participating at all couples interactions one by one?

“I function as a compare, guiding the timings and questions. People are paired up, I ask a question, they answer the question between themselves (taking turns), I stop them after a few minutes before posing the next question. The questions are especially designed to engage and get to deeper levels of connection in a short space of time, unlike the usual awkward silences that occur once you have asked “where do you live? where are you from?” in general dating scenarios.”

 

9. Did you have any resounding success so far?

“Yes, I had a young chap come up to me 4 months after our very first Power Dating event and beamed that he met his girlfriend there and they were still going strong. I also once got a text forwarded by a friend, from another friend, who had a friend (!) confess to being sceptical about going and nearly didn’t, but had been really pleased to go. We often hear of people arranging to go on dates the very evening of the Power Dating event. The best is to see couples engrossed in conversation towards the end of the evening.”

 

10. Did anybody refuse flat out to do the exercise with one person?

“Yes. One or two have disengaged, saying they didn’t fancy that particular person and went off to get a drink instead. This is when our mixer hosts step in and make sure no one feels left out.”

 

 11. Did it ever lead to resentful feelings at the end?

“With a person going off? Not that I am aware of. Any issue people have, they normally approach me and I give them a bit of free dating coaching.”

 

12. What do you think is the future of Power Dating and have you tried it yourself?

“Good question. No I haven’t tried it. I always run them. The future of Power Dating, I think, is that it becomes more mainstream and adopted by other dating event organisers. Perhaps a little training/workshop would be in order to support anyone who wants to do it. I quite like that thought!”

Why do we call Power Dating a new way of dating for the brave?  To begin with, it takes a brave person to go to any dating event and openly declare their single status in full view of the “competition” and of many desirable potential dates. Will the person they choose, choose them too?

The questions are going so deep, many might be surprised by their own answer. Self knowledge can take a whole new dimension here. Also, the really brave can add the “gazing in each others’ eyes” bit at the end. Maybe not during the public event, but somewhere more private. You’ve got to try it. It’s truly mindblowing.

Madeleine Mason is Dating Psychologist and Director of dating experts company PassionSmiths. (http://www.passionsmiths.com/)

 

She specialises in dating and relationships,Power Dating by Madeleine Masonhelping people restore or improve their abilities to interact with other.

She is Psychologies magazine ‘in-house’ dating blogger on their lifelabs platform, (https://lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk/users/1365-madeleine-mason) member of the Dating Industry Professionals Network (http://www.dipn.uk/) and shortlisted Dating Expert of the Year at the 2014 UK Dating Awards.

 

 

You can read more about Power Dating at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/promotions/events/11545441/Power-dating-a-new-magic-way-to-find-love.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/11347439/Falling-in-love-answer-these-36-questions-to-find-love.html?mobile=basic

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11372818/Can-you-fall-in-love-in-90-minutes.html

For help with your online dating profile, photos or for other dating coaching services click here.

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It was the summer of 2002 when a friend of mine introduced me to Lavalife, a Canadian dating website. Thus my journey into the world of online dating began. It did stop shortly after though, as I started dating someone I had met at one of the workshops I was attending at the time.

Needless to say, in 2002 dating sites weren’t widely discussed, they were more of a hush hush kinda subject. We’ve come a long way since. So, what is the success rate of online dating these days?

 

1.The Success Rate of Online Dating via Traditional Dating Sites

Whether it’s Match.com, Lovestruck or E-Harmony, OKCupid, or PlentyOfFish, traditional dating sites have one thing in common, a huge database. Thus they can make us believe that we have “infinite” matches. But when taking a closer look, we realize that maybe on the surface, we have a lot in common with a lot of people, however, since we’re not putting together a football team, the weeding process can be long and painful. We’re bound to communicate with loads of people, go on many dates and start all over again. However, whether due to luck or hard work, an increasing number of people find their partner on these sites. All hope is not lost.

 

2.The Success Rate of Online Dating via Niche Dating Sites

Niche dating sites are very much in. Some are independent, like Star Trek Dating, others are branches of traditional sites, like LavalifePrime (for the over 45 year old). They are a brilliant idea of grouping people based on main interests, orientation and preferences. Suddenly the pool is much smaller. Yet, the chances of finding somebody you match with are much greater.

 

3.The Success Rate of Online Dating via Dating Apps

Dating apps are all the rage nowadays and as far as going on dates goes, they’re probably leading. Predominantly free, these apps do have their drawbacks, though. It has been recently reported that 42% of men on Tinder are already in a relationship. New dating app Hinge, thus decided on a bold move. They publish all users relationship status. Since Hinge is linked to the user’s Facebook profile, whatever status they show on there will appear on the new version of Hinge. Apparently on hearing the news, over 400 men deleted their profiles.

 

Dating apps are no stranger to going niche either. There is one for men who have beards and those who like to stroke them. There is one for “cheeky” people, called Cheeky Boo. Well, not for actually cheeky ones as such. It’s a clever app that can set up people on a date in an instant if they’re both free.
The choices are endless. The commitment of the people using these apps, less so.

 

4.The Success Rate of Online Dating via Social Media

Since connecting with friends of friends not only gives people access to some accurate background information, thus elevating trust, but also guarantees some sort of common interests as well, dating social media connections seems like a good idea. No wonder the dating app Hinge built it’s whole concept on these connections. Although these circles are much smaller than the selection of potential matches offered by a traditional dating site, in some ways it’s like being back at school. It’s just virtual.

 

5.The Success Rate of Online Dating via Social Events

Secret singles nights or Thames River Cruises, these events are for the socially bold. However, they do work. Kudos to dating sites bringing in the trend, which now has been taken over by Meetup as well.
Just try not to bump into an ex. It could be awkward.

 

6. What Else Is Out There to Help Our Quest For Love?

Matchmakers. Yes, for all of you who’d like to have the load taken off your shoulders, there are some fantastic services run by talented and dedicated people. Matchmaking is an art and requires the finest intuition and skill. It also requires knowledge. One of the best matchmakers in town is Caroline Brealey of Mutual Attraction.  And, just as there is an ever growing need for long lasting relationships, there is a need for more good matchmakers as well. That’s why, it should not come as a surprise that Caroline, after writing her book “Matchmaking – Create Your Own Business” is now running a special course called The Matchmaker Academy.

With such wonderful services, rest assured our love life is in good hands. Now it’s up to us to contribute our share, with dedication and keeping an open mind. Life and love are an intriguing journey here on Earth.

If you’d like to read more of our articles or need help with your dating profiles, click here.

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