Plenty of Fish, the popular free dating site, has been used mostly for hook-ups. But can it rebuild its image?

 

Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 6.56.22 PMThis past week, Plenty of Fish announced that it would eliminate the option of “Intimate Encounters” on its online dating platform. The reason? According to founder Markus Frind, he was receiving too many complaints from female users of the site who were getting harassing messages from men. He wants to refocus the site back to its original strategy: helping people find real relationships, not hook-ups.

 

In a message to users, he shared that out of the site’s 3.3 million members, only 6,041 are women looking for no-strings-attached trysts. In addition, he said that “the ones with hot pictures are mostly men pretending to be women.”

 

This was a bold admission for the founder of such a successful online dating site (the site is free for users, but pulls in a significant amount of money each year in ad revenue).

 

Mr Frind said in his statement: “When I created POF, I wanted it to be all about finding relationships with the right person. For the first seven years, this worked really well, I got the site to 10 million users without any employees and PoF was generating a ton of relationships.”

 

But Frind said he would now be making changes and eliminating the Intimate Encounters option, adding: “Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”

 

Other changes include putting limits on age gaps. Those members who are more than fourteen years apart are not allowed to message each other. According to Frind: “There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact 18-year-old women. The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hook-ups.”

 

I’m curious to see if any other online dating sites take similar actions to prevent their sites from being used primarily as hook-up destinations rather than relationship-seeking sites. Many sites guard against things like inappropriate photos and harassing emails. But ultimately, it is up to members of the site to decide how they will use it. And free sites are more susceptible to misuse than paid sites.

 

There are certain measures that every dater should take before using an online dating site. Plenty of Fish has made it a little easier by rooting out fake and sleazy profiles, but there are still a few things to be aware of:

 

“Hot” pictures. If the pictures are lude or sexy (showing intimate body parts or making sexual gestures at the camera), likely the profile is fake. If this is what you want, there are plenty of porn sites out there. But if you want a relationship keep this in mind.

 

Getting virtually intimate. If your date is telling you how much he wants to have sex, or how he’s fallen in love with you just by your emails, beware. If you’re intimidated by his pursuits then tell him thanks, but no thanks.

 

Meeting in private. If you’re meeting an online date, please meet him in a public place. Don’t let him pick you up and don’t meet him at a private house (his or a friend’s). You don’t know him or what he wants. Meet everyone in a public space first.

 

 


Looking for something new to do this summer? Try these creative date ideas.

 

 

Screen shot 2013-05-18 at 7.06.18 PMWho doesn’t love summer? The warm nights, cool water, smell of suntan lotion, the tropical drinks. It’s no wonder we dream about summer flings – it’s the perfect season for romance and spontaneity.

 

Which is why it’s fun to step out of your standard coffee or dinner date comfort zone and do something a little out of the ordinary. Namely, take advantage of the weather while you date.

 

Following are some summer date ideas that might inspire you:

 

Outdoor concerts. Many cities capitalize on the longer, warmer nights and invite local artists to perform outdoor concerts. Do you live near a pier, a lake, or downtown? Chances are some kind of live music is going on, so check your local listings and get the details. Then pack a bottle of wine and a few decadent snacks to enjoy with the music and you’re on your way.

 

Roadtrip it. If you’re at a loss for things to do in your own town, there’s nothing wrong with hopping in the car and seeing where the GPS takes you. Spontaneous road trips are the stuff romance is made of. Pick a destination and see what you find – even if it’s not all that spectacular, there are unique places in every neighborhood. Explore, that’s the point.

 

Get outdoors. Do you like tubing, hiking or biking? Instead of sitting down somewhere when you’d rather be moving, engage your date. Meet at a hiking spot you’ve always wanted to try. Ride bikes along the lake or boardwalk. Grab a couple of kayaks or inner tubes and hit the water. There are plenty of activities to do, it just depends what you’re up for.

 

Restaurant crawl. Is there a main street in your city or town where all the local hotspots are? Instead of making a reservation at one place and sitting down to dinner, make a night of it with a restaurant crawl. Try appetizers and cocktails in one place, tapas for dinner at another, a decadent bistro for dessert, and top it off with coffee at a cozy café or after-dinner drinks at a nightclub or bar, if that’s more your style.

 

Food trucks. Much like the restaurant crawl, food trucks have become increasingly popular across the country. It’s a more interesting and cheaper way to eat – gourmet grilled cheese to lobster rolls to Vietnamese burritos. During the summer they congregate together in certain neighborhoods where other activities might be going on, like farmer’s markets or county fairs.

 

 

Theatre under the stars. Do you love dinner and a movie? Take the idea outside. Pack a picnic with a bottle of wine, a blanket, and check your local listings for what’s playing at a park near you. I live in L.A., where outdoor movie night is at a famous Hollywood cemetery, so you can imagine the horror flicks and classic films they screen there, which are way better in this setting than in a boring theatre.

 

Wine tasting. Want to relax and enjoy your Sunday afternoon? Head to a local winery for some tasting. If you live near vineyards and can stop by a few, even better. In the summer they might have events, like food pairings or special wines for tasting. Best of all, you can relax and enjoy the scene.

 

Have fun!

 

 


Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 4.24.53 PMNot getting enough responses from your online dating matches? Try these tips and see what happens.

 

Joining an online dating site and creating a great profile are the first steps in the online dating process. You want to generate intrigue and appeal to get people interested enough to stop and look at your profile. But while these are important steps, how you use an online dating site once your profile is visible determines your success. That is, you want to be attracted to your matches and you want them to respond in kind to you.

 

So what happens next? How do you gain the most out of your online dating membership? What do you say in the first email? And what if you don’t get any emails or matches from people who you want to date?

 

Don’t panic. Most people have questions when they begin. In order for online dating to work in your favor and be a positive process, you have to put a little work and energy into it. You can’t expect to sit back and watch the emails and matches come rolling in. You have to engage and reach out. There are plenty of people to meet, so following are some tips for getting started:

 

Check in often. It’s good to have a routine so that you can check your online dating site every day for at least ten minutes. If you can only do it over lunch or late in the evening, then check in at those times. It doesn’t matter how long you’re logged in at any particular time, just that you check in often enough to send emails and chat with a few people on a daily basis. People move fast in the online dating world, so if you wait a week before checking in you’ve likely missed some good candidates (and your profile won’t show up as “active” unless you’re logging in regularly).

 

Send more than a dozen emails. Try three dozen emails. I know it seems impersonal, or laborious, but dating is a numbers game to a large extent. The wider you cast your net, the more people you’re able to correspond with and potentially date. It will be worth it – and it takes up less time and money than going to a bar and approaching women one by one.

 

Don’t send spam. Read profiles. Women can tell right away if you’ve sent the same email out to fifty other women. Mention something specific in her profile as a conversation starting point. You don’t have to make it a long email, but show that you took some time to read about her and that you’re interested.

 

Be classy in your approach. Most women don’t want to open an email addressed to “sex goddess” or “super hottie.” Again, you could have sent this to fifty other women. Plus, a woman wants to know that you actually want to meet her, not just any woman looking for a guy. Another tip: try to be emphatic in the beginning and pick something that stands out in her profile. (i.e. “Wow!! I love that you managed to sail halfway around the world when you were only 25, or “Gorgeous! Your photo stopped me – your eyes are stunningly beautiful.”) It’s not overkill, it’s effective.

 

Get over rejection. Everyone deals with it when they join online dating sites. Many people won’t respond to your emails. A smaller percentage end up in actual dates. It’s just a process – and let’s face it, nobody who is single has time to meet everyone they email or “wink” at on a dating website, so don’t feel rejected if some people don’t respond. Just move on to the next attractive person you see, and reach out.

 


Best dating site reviewsSo what are the best dating sites?  Anyone who has considered signing up for a dating site to meet that special someone can become very confused and disillusioned very quickly because of the amount of dating websites to choose from.  There are so many good ones out there that it can be difficult to choose the best one.  Some of the dating sites are very specific in the people they cater to and others are general in that anyone can join.  The following are reviews of the 10 best dating sites:

  1. Match.com – Match.com is probably one of the best well known of all the online dating sites which is why it made our number one. It has a very large, varied, and active membership base. There is a search engine that you can use to find matches including custom searches.  The site does not make matches for you but there are those who prefer to do their own searches.  This is considered a general site as there are no predetermined qualifications
  2. EHarmony – The second best well known of dating sites is EHarmony.com  This site does not allow searches and instead uses their own patented algorithms based on extensive personality questionares plus profile match filters you pick such as city/state/age info to deliver about 5 daily candidates and matches to you.  There are no search tools so those who would rather keep their profile private can appreciate this feature.  This website is for those who are looking for a committed relationship and is not for those who are simply trying to meet new people. The founder, Dr. Warren Clark is a well known Christian relationship researcher that spent years researching what compatibility factors were most important in making marriages and long term relationships last. He is the one that patented the relationship matching algorithms. This is part of what makes rHarmony.com stand out, as its true goal is to have you succeed in a long term relationship. As a result of this strong focus on long term relationships and marriage, over 50% of the members are Christians.
  3. OurTime.com – For those singles that are over fifty, you may not want to wade through a bunch of profiles that do not match your age expectations.  With this senior dating site you can be assured that those matches you make are of a more mature age.  This site has video profile, custom searches and a match me compatibility feature.
  4. Christian Mingle – Christian Mingle as its name implies is for those singles that are looking for other Christians to date.  This is another of the specific dating sites as it caters only to those who have certain religious beliefs.  There are search engines that allow singles to search out those who share the same moral and religious values.   While other sites do allow you to search for those who share the same morals and religious beliefs, on this site you know everyone is Christian.
  5. JDate – Another site that is based on the religious views of their singles is JDate which is for those who are from a Jewish background.  This is the most popular and best Jewish Dating site online, and offers matches as well as a search function for those who prefer to find their own dates. This is dedicated to those who are looking for a serious relationship.
  6. Perfect Match – Perfect Match may not be one of the more well known of all the general dating sites but it does offer quite a bit to its users.  You can search for your perfect match or you can allow the site to determine which matches are perfect for you.  It is also one of the easiest sites to navigate and offers a wide variety of people to choose from.
  7. Chemistry.com – This website is dedicated to those who are looking for a committed relationship and who want to date one person long term.  It does not allow for searching which means all profiles are private unless the site has made a match for you.  The matching system is complicated but effective. It is the main competitor to eHarmony.com, as they both use detailed personality and interest questionares, and deliver the matches right to you on a regular basis. That’s really a time saver if you do not have hours every day to search. Normal sites allow members that do not match your requirements to message and IM you (to spam you at times), which can be annoying.
  8. SingleParentMeet.com – Those who have children may have found that they are having a tough time getting to know other singles who do not mind children.  With SingleParentMeet.com, all the singles are single parents so this is not an issue.  There are no matches and instead single parents search for their own matches based on the profiles of others.
  9. Be Naughty – Finally, for those who really are not looking for a commitment or a long term relationship, there is Be Naughty.  Be Naughty offers the chance to simply date and to make new friends.  This does not offer matches since the point of the site is a no strings approach to dating.  Instead, users can search for those singles who they find attractive and there is no pressure to start a relationship with the first person that they meet.
  • Zoosk – One of the best free dating sites is Zoosk and they have a huge data base full of people just waiting for a date.  They offer both searches and matches based on algorithms for those who want the best of both worlds.  This is considered one of the more entertaining sites because it is not based on commitments or relationships, but dating too.
  • While there are a wide variety of dating sites that made our top 10 list, there are still others out there that do offer the same search criteria and matching algorithms as these sites do.  Some are good sites, and some are better. The best dating site for you is the one you are most comfortable with, gives you success in finding dates online, and offers you value.

    The point is to find the one that you feel comfortable using and one that will offer you the most choices.  After all, it is very rare to meet only one person online and find the person who you spend the rest of your life with.  While it is easier than meeting people in real life, there is some trial and error that must take place.  This is not to say that it cannot happen, but realistically you may have to date a few people before you find the best “one” and decide to settle down.


    Safety Rules for Singles Dating WebsitesSingles dating sites can be a great way to meet new people but it does come with some danger if you are not careful about the way you go about meeting your matches.

     

    Unfortunately, not everyone who is on singles dating sites is simply looking for a partner.  Some are actually predators that tell you what you want to hear, claim to have the same thoughts and value systems just so that they can exploit you and others.

     

    This is why it is important to know what you should and should not do on an singles dating site and how to protect yourself.  The following are four safety guidelines when using an online dating website:

    1. Use a Separate Email – You can have as many email accounts as you want and that you can keep up with. It is always suggested that you use a separate email for the purpose of online dating so you do not have to fear someone cyber stalking you.  There are ways that hackers can get into your email account and find information about you such as your address.  When you set up this new email account, do not fill in any of those fields such as phone number and address so even if your email is hacked, they are not getting any sensitive personal information.  Never give out any other email address to a person who you have met online that you do not yet trust or who you have not met.
    2. Never Divulge Financial Information – Most of those who are attempting to exploit another person are doing it for financial gain.  They are looking for what they deem to be a lonely person who they can charm and woo and who will eventually open their wallets and bank accounts.  These people seem genuine but all they are is scam artists.  They put on a fake face to you in order to gain your trust and once they have it, they start telling you all their sob stories to get you to offer them money.  Most of the time you are not even asked for anything, but because you are a good person you offer it.  To keep this from being an issue, never divulge your financial information to someone until you are absolutely sure they are genuine.
    3. Never Give out Your Home Address or Telephone Number – You should never list your home address or telephone number on an online dating website.  This allows those who are looking to commit crimes on your home or you easy access.  They can go to your house when they know you are at work and rob you or they can come by your house when you are home and hurt you.  Keep things general when they ask where you live.  You can tell them you live in the Southwest part of the city or in a certain district.  This way if someone is genuine, you still know if you live in the same area without revealing your exact location.  It is possible to stay safe and still offer some bits of information about yourself if you simply are a vague and not specific about your location.
    4. Always Meet in Public – This is probably one of the most important of all the safety guidelines because of the nature of singles dating.  Eventually you will want to meet your match so you can see if there are sparks in person as well as online and on the phone.  It is absolutely a bad idea to have them meet you at your house.  This goes along with not giving out your address to anyone online.  Choose a spot that is close to both your locations and have dinner or coffee when you meet.  You can go out to clubs and do others things as well but keep it all on the surface and never take someone home who you have just met.  This cannot be stressed enough, there is the thought that “I’ve talked to them for so long that I feel I know them, they cannot be bad”.  These same people are the ones who are on the news because they were robbed or worse.

    It is very important to protect yourself no matter what your dating situation is.  Even if you meet a person at a bar, the above guidelines are accurate and should be followed.  Keep in mind, these are not just for women, men are preyed upon just as much if not more than the ladies.  This is because ladies tend to expect to be exploited much more than men do.

     

    After all, she has a pretty face and is gorgeous and fun to be with, certainly she’s not out to get me.  But be wary, she is and will get you if you leave yourself open to her by not protecting your home, your money and your heart.

    Men are seen to be much tougher than women so they are not at risk but they are if not more so because of this.  A woman can leech a man’s bank account just as easily, if not more so, than a man can leech a woman’s.  There are few men who can stand to see a woman cry and if he cares about her, he will do what he can to help her.  This is why both men and women should protect themselves at all times when using an singles dating site to find love.