Kathryn's Blog

True.com Gets Publicity, but Is it Worth the Price?

I’ve been reading press releases from True.com for months now about True.com’s attempts to get states to pass laws requiring Internet dating sites to conduct criminal background checks. Evidently, the plan has yet to succeed, but True.com’s efforts have certainly gotten them press. And as we know, any press is better than no press at all. An article today on News.com by Declan McCullagh sheds more light on the shenanigans.

If you don’t know it already, the Internet dating market is getting fiercely competitive. More than 850 now compete for your business. There’s money to be made from all you singles out there, and the dating sites are trying desperately to come up with a marketing edge that will help each to stand out from the crowd of others.

True.com came up with a dandy plan: compatibility testing (think eHarmony), criminal background checks, and a message on the home page of “Married People will be Prosecuted.” Think “paranoia.” Nothing like scaring people to get them to part with dollars. And nothing wrong with that. It’s a good gimmick. But what I really had problems with is True.com’s using attempts to legislate. McCullagh’s article points out the effects the legislation would have, and it doesn’t sound good to me—and while you are reading the article, take a look at the first comment posted in response—from Dan Vest—related to True.com’s owner Herb Vest perhaps?

True.com, use what you have come up with to tout your site’s advantages, but lay off the attempts to smack other sites through legislation. It’s a cheap trick to get publicity and you know it. It feels slimy, and slimy techniques tend to stick to the initiator.


Samantha Daniels’ “Matchbook” and the Search for Perfection

Last Tuesday, we got six packages in the mail, all books. Two packages were for Drew, the rest for me. Clearly, we like—and buy—books. Most of mine were how-to dating and relationship books that are flooding the market. Who knew that so many people knew so much about how to find and keep a Sweetheart?

If you read these books like I do, you’ll find that not too many people do know much at all. A good proportion of the books are pretty bad. I’ve taken on sifting through the piles to find the best to recommend to my readers so that they don’t have to waste their time and money. (See my Top Ten list) They’ll need all the time and money they can squirrel away for their mate search.

One of the books I knew was “just for fun”: “Matchbook—The Diary of a Modern-Day Matchmaker” by Samantha Daniels. It’s a quick and fun read, with a titillating peek into the high priced world of professional matchmaking—Daniels’ fees START at $10,000.

Don’t read this book to find pointers on finding your Ms. or Mr. Right. I usually underline and use Post Its liberally. “Matchbook” only got four markers. But I had a good time, and thoroughly enjoyed my few hours with Daniels.

I did find Daniels (also single) and her clients depressing and irritating. She and the singles she worked with had one common characteristic: turning down candidate after candidate for the most trivial and superficial reasons. These potentials were doctors, lawyers, financiers, business owners, male and female, most at least high salaried, many down right wealthy. All sounded good-looking at least, often model material or even real live models.

Actually, this commonality became the one good learning that I took from the work: The search for perfection is doomed to failure, because no one is perfect.

So here’s my advice: Either read this book for fun, or to see if you see yourself in Daniels or her clients. If you are as picky as the people in these stories, you may need some of Daniels’ advice. Here’s what she writes on page 221: “I also tend to go out with guys who would be good for me but somehow I fixate on the one bad thing about them and fixate and fixate and give them a hard time about it until I ruin things. And then after the fact, I look back and say to myself that maybe that one bad thing wasn’t so bad. I need to work on not sabotaging…”

Sound familiar?

P. S. Here’s another of Daniels’ quotes I bookmarked: “‘So if you don’t hire me, how do you plan on doing things differently so that you have different luck?


Technology to the Rescue: Cingular’s “Escape-a-Date”

In the “What will they think of next?” arena, today I read about a new service through Cingular, the cell phone provider, called “Escape-a-Date.” (See Elizabeth Leis’ column for more innovative ways to use electronic gadgetry to help your love life.) I had to dig a little, but apparently, bundled in with some other new-fangled services that I could probably live without, is the ability to have yourself called on your own cell phone at a particular time. Sort of like a wake-up call. Or maybe, if the date is disastrous, more like a bye-bye call.

Evidently, when you answer, an automated voice prompts you with lines for a one-sided conversation that your date can overhear—if you should need an excuse to get out and away.

Whatever happened to and kind “I’ve enjoyed meeting you, but I don’t think we are a match”? Clearly, “Escape-a-Date is only of use to folks who haven’t got the social skills to manage an awkward situation gracefully.

And hasn’t Cingular heard that a ringing—and answered—cell phone in the middle of a date is the height of rudeness?

Note to Internet daters: Take your cell phone for safety, particularly on that first meeting, but turn the ringer off! Or if you have a friend call you to check, tell your date that it is going to happen, and that’s why you are leaving the phone on. Nothing is more charming than to give your date your undivided attention. And nothing is more irritating than to sit while your date chats away to whomever. Am I right or wrong?


Lycos’ New Search Engine for Internet Dating

I’ve seen lots of articles over the past few days about Lycos’ announcement of “DatingSearch,” a search engine that allows singles to browse profiles from multiple dating sites. I’m always looking for helps to finding your Sweetheart, so I’ve been following up the links. I don’t speak techie, but if you do, here are some articles that you might want to take a look at:

What I can speak to is how advantageous (or not) DatingSearch may be to the average online dater. Because I took a look.

The home page has the standard search box on the left, where you specify what you are looking for and where you are located. Hit the search button and up comes profiles that fit your parameters, just like every dating site. Except Dating Search is not a dating site itself—if you click on a profile, you are taken right to the dating site where the profile is actually listed. The dating sites that came up in my search were Tickle, True.com, and iMatchup.com.

Evidently, dating sites have to pay Lycos to have their data base included, and then Lycos also gets paid if you click through one of their profiles and end up on their site. The biggest dating sites like Match.com, YahooPersonals, and eHarmony do not appear to have signed up. Yet.

Internet daters often complain about being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of profiles that they need to sort through to find promising matches. Lycos’ DatingSearch would simply increase that overload. However, if you want to be sure that you are covering every single single in your area, DatingSearch might be just the tool for you. Don’t forget that once you have found candidates through DatingSearch, then you’ll have to join up to all those different dating sites to communicate to your potential Sweetie. That could get expensive. And that’s why I suggest to my Romance Clients that they join one of the big sites like Match.com or YahooPersonals, and maybe one other site based on a special interest, like religion (JDate is a big favorite) or politics (like RepbulicanSingles or SingleDemocrats). Though you won’t see every single single, you’ll be more efficient with your time and your money.

What do you think? Will DatingSearch help you in your search for love, or simply make your job that much harder?


Dating Sites and Books for Seniors

A good, solid percentage of my Romance clients are over 60. Surprised? I’m not. On “Sunday Morning” February 20, they ran a whole segment on 70 being the new 50—in other words, people are active, engaged, and fully involved in life well into their 70’s , 80’s and beyond. Regular readers of my enewsletter *eMAIL to eMATE* know that I have living evidence of this in my own family: my mother will be 81 on her wedding day of April 2 this year, and the groom is 86! Read more here and subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already to follow their story.

So I am always on the look-out for resources for singles who are not teenagers. I got a book yesterday “ by Rebecca Sharp Colmer and Todd M. Thomas which does a pretty good job on the topic. is designed for seniors, for sure: Large type, short, simple descriptions in a question and answer format. Though maybe daters of all ages should read it, because lots of the advice is applicable for all ages. Like “Are there times when it is better not to date?” (When you are clinically depressed, when your spouse or partner has recently left or died, when you have lost your place to live and don’t know what you are going to do next, or when you don’t feel like dating.) Or “How do I make a good first date impression?” (Just a few of the ways: Clean breath and teeth, clip stray nose and ear hairs.)

Interestingly, the authors kept plugging a dating site I hadn’t heard of: SeniorSparks.com. So I checked it out. What came up was a simple, clear dating site format, large type again, but rather amateurish looking. Not slick at all. The site has a search box on the home page, and the age range STARTS at 65, going up to 99. So I did a search, and Surprise!!! The results took me right to Match.com! I did the search three times to check it out, I was so surprised. Evidently, SeniorSparks.com is another spur of the big guy Match.com. My searches showed lots of eligible men and women, but I could not do a search based on location. I suspect that Match.com does not have enough listings to make area searches worthwhile. But if you are looking in the 65 and over age groups and don’t mind looking all over the country, SeniorSparks.com is a good resource.


Internet Daters: Save those emails!

I got an email notice last night that a reader had posted the first comment here on my blog, in response to my entry of February 16 “Reddi Whip and Strawberries.” Interestingly, I had just gotten off the phone with one of my romance clients who now has her gorgeous profile and photo posted on two dating sites (Match.com and Jdate.com) and is ready to start looking for Sweethearts. (FYI, usually I start out with new clients on their profiles—so far, every single one has needed work and new photos. I help with the writing, and I suggest LookBetterOnline for the photos.)

I talked to my client about keeping records of who she writes to and who writes to her. Numbers of contacts can soon get confusing, and setting up file folders with each contact’s screen name help keep things straight. Print off their profile, and then all correspondence—your emails and theirs—and put the whole business in their file folders. This will give you a complete record of your written correspondence that will help keep you from getting confused, and also will allow you to go back and check what the writer said in earlier emails. You’ll be wanting to watch for consistency in what the writer says to you over time. Consistency is a sign of truth-telling and builds trust.

An extra benefit of this record keeping is that when one of your correspondents moves into Sweetheart position, you have a written diary of your early relationship. Here’s what Susannah wrote:

At 7:05 PM, Susannah said…
My husband and I started dating during the early days of the Internet, and he’s actually the first person I ever sent an email to. Much of our early courtship was conducted via email, and so for one special Valentine’s day I printed out and had bound every email we’d sent from when we first started messaging each other to when we got engaged. It was a great gift… and only cost me the price of a ream of paper!

Susannah was responding to my note in “Reddi Whip and Strawberries” that on our first Valentine’s together, Drew gave me a framed copy of my first email to him. Even more than that, like Susannah, we have a complete copy of all the emails we sent before we met in real time and space. Every year when those dates roll around, we re-read what we wrote, day by day, and re-live the excitement we felt.


Yahoo’s Personal’s Premier—Anybody doing it?

I mentioned in my last posting that dating sites are now courting the seriously courters—those folks who are looking for a long term relationship. I checked out which is set up to do just that. Here’s how it’s billed: “Ready for deeper connection? A long-term relationship? puts the right people at the top of your list. “

As opposed to the regular Yahoo! Personals that now are described: “Hold the Relationship…Maybe you’re not quite ready for a commitment yet. If so, you’ll love our Yahoo! Personals standard service - it’s the best way to meet great people. “

Looks like you can search and be searched by all Yahoo! Personals posters. But the “” subscribers will be identified with a special seal (a purple “P”), so you can tell who is who. Extra services include “Relationship Fit Ratings,” you’ll be able to rate your matches to improve your search results, and you will be able to search Premier members only.

Now of course, extra services mean higher fees, and that’s puts the bill at $35 per month. However, there are specials posted now: $19.95 for a month, and $99.95 for a year! That’s less than $8.50 a month!

This seems like an incredible deal, and here’s why I think so: If you join at the level, you’ll be identified by the Premier seal as seriously looking for a long term relationship. And you’ll know that others with that seal have self-identified that way too. That is an incredible advantage! Why would anyone pay extra to be listed as serious when they are not, when they really are just out for a good time? Additionally, and here’s a big one, you’ll know by the seal that the other person has a paid membership. As you know if you’re a regular reader (see my blog posting of February 17th The Single Biggest Reason They Don’t Answer Your Emails), non-paying posters to dating sites can’t email you back unless they pony up the monthly fee. And up until the Premier desgnation, there’s been no way to tell who pays and who doesn’t. So a very high proportion of non-answered initial emails are because the poster is coasting for free.

I can’t see anything but positive news here. Yea, !

Wait a minute, here’s a negative: It’s going to take some time for others to figure this out and get signed up at this higher level. But don’t let that stop you—you’ll still have access to all the other Yahoo! Personals postings too.

Now, this is a big deal for me to promote Yahoo! this way, since I am a Match.com fan from way back. Match.com is where I met my Sweetie Drew in 1998. But Yahoo! Personals have pulled into the lead—they’re now the biggest site, with Match.com close behind. And this step they are taking with Premier is a good one.

So if any of you out there have had experience with this new version, I want to hear about it. Email me, okay?


In the Media: Online Personal Sites Growth Rates

My *eMAIL to eMATE* readers got to see my rant about the media coverage of the slowdown of growth of the Internet dating market in the February 1, 2005 issue. Though the growth rate has slowed, that’s from the phenomenal rates of 73% in 2002 and 77% in 2003. No business that is built on a finite number of consumers (American singles) can grow indefinitely, and Internet dating is no different. And Internet dating is different than most business like hamburgers, because once the consumer actually accomplishes what the product is selling (finds love!), then they drop out of the market. Once a consumer is hooked on Big Macs, you’ve got them for life. Match.com, one of the two biggest sites (YahooPersonals the other), estimates that 200,000 people per year drop off their roles after having met the person they were hoping for.

So the still very good growth rate in 2004 of 19% (I’d be happy with that return!) probably represents a reasonable pace for the super-charged dating market of post September 11. Nothing to sniff at, for sure: revenues hit $473 million in 2004. By comparison, during the first half of 2001, the industry grossed only $22.6 million.

Interestingly, fewer users are browsing online personals (down 33%), but revenues continue to go up. What’s the story? I suspect that the casual and the curious are getting bored and moving on to the next new thing, while those seriously looking for a partner are getting more serious, signing up and paying their dues. Dating sites are now trying harder to court those folks. Yahoo has started Personals Premier. At $35 per month, they are aiming for the dedicated.

Frankly, I can’t see how this slowing is bad news: If indeed the “players” are dropping out, well, fine. That leaves those of us who know what we want and are using the best vehicle to come around next (the Net) to find our Sweetheart. Yea!


The Single Biggest Reason They Don’t Answer Your Emails

Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, I talk to who has spent any time on an Internet dating site asks me “Why don’t they answer my emails?” The nastiest littlest-known secret is because the guy or gal you wrote to probably is too cheap to join the site: Most sites require that you pay before you communicate.

Think about it: It’s to the dating site’s advantage to encourage you to post your profile, and they make it free to do so. Every dating site needs lots of people’s profiles and pics to draw other new members. But dating sites, like any business, need money to continue offering and improving their services, and they get people to pay up by making communication a paid-only privilege.

In 2003, 37% of American singles browsed online personals. 23% of those posted their profiles, and 10% actually paid for a subscription.

Match.com has roughly 30 million visitors a month, but only about a million are paid customers (974,000 as of May 2004). So if you, in good faith, pay your membership fees, then email a cutie or two or three, you can see how the odds are really against you. It’s a very high probability that the object of your interest has not paid up. And you have no way of knowing, because there’s not indication of payment status on profiles. So from the cutie’s point of view, with each contact the receive, they need to decide if the privilege to respond to adorable you is worth the $25 or so it will take them to join up.

The second biggest reason that they don’t answer your emails is that they are rude. Even if you are not interested, a short, polite note saying something like “Thanks for your interest, but I don’t see a match here” takes only seconds. You can even have it boilerplated and just paste and copy your message into an email.

So here you have it: Non-answered introductory emails likely mean he/she is cheap or rude. And you don’t want either, do you? And by the way, you don’t want to be seen as cheap or rude either, so pay up and say “Thanks but no thanks” to all who think you are a hunk.

P.S. If you post a profile, play fair: Pay the fee! Most sites offer great deals for multiple months (less that 50 cents a day!). You’ll be financially supporting the site you are using and sharing the costs with the other fair-playing members. The dating sites will be able to improve their services with the money you send. And your posted profile, which implies that you are available for communication, will actually be telling the truth!


The Research on Internet Dating: Great News!

Scholarly research on Internet dating is starting to come in, folks, and the news is good! Dr. Jeff Gavin of the University of Bath, England, along with Drs. Adrian Scott and Jill Duffield, surveyed 229 people aged 18 to 65 who used UK dating sites. Click here to read a more complete discussion. Briefly, what they found is when couples used the Internet to build up a significant relationship by emailing or chatting online before meeting the first time, 94% went on to see each other again after that first meeting. These relationships lasted for an average of seven months, with 18% lasting for over a year.

Yeehaw! That’s just what I have been preaching! To my readers and Romance clients: Take your time after making the first contact online and use what the Internet can do very well—get to know each other! Use that time before you meet in real time and space to ask the hard questions, develop the trust and intimacy. It will pay off, just as the research is now showing.

Here’s another tidbit that I have seen twice over the wires this week: 12% of newly married couples now meet online! Wow! Now, I haven’t been able to verify that information, but if it is true, that is a very high percentage!


Reddi Whip and Strawberries

Readers of my enewsletter *eMAIL to eMATE* know that I was pretty stepped back before Valentine’s Day. As natural as it would seem for a Romance Coach to capitalize on the holiday for lovers, I just didn’t feel like it. My readers knew that Valentine’s Day was coming, and they didn’t need me to bludgeon them with the news. So I didn’t try at all to get my media contacts stirred up to feature me in the flood of articles that came out all over the press.

However, Cori Bolger at the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, MS, did give me a call for some juicy quotes. Cori had interviewed me before, and knew that she could count on me for the article she was writing about last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts. Cori wrote a very clever article, and in the paper Monday, the article even had a picture of me. The online version left that out, but here’s the link so that you can read what she and I had to say: Click here!

I didn’t know what Cori was going to ask me, so I wasn’t really prepared, but frankly, I think I came up with some good ideas. The two best ones? On our first Valentine’s Day together, Drew gave me a framed copy of the first email I sent him, making the contact that eventually brought us together. It now hangs in our bedroom. The second idea was pure on-the-spot inspiration: Go to the grocery store and buy a box of strawberries and a can of chocolate Reddi Whip (that whipped cream that comes in an aerosol can).

Interestingly enough, I had never even had chocolate Reddi Whip. But I bought some, with the strawberries, and let me tell you, that is one hot combination! Chocolate Reddi Whip tastes like chocolate mousse. Yum, yum, yum.


What’s February 15th like for a Romance Coach?

My first job out of college was as an Activities Director in a nursing home. For those of you who haven’t experienced the December holidays in such a facility, it’s a mad house. EVERYONE who you couldn’t scare up with a million dollar lottery the rest of the year, suddenly wants to come in and “do something nice” for all the old folks. By the time that Christmas finally came, everyone in the whole place was exhausted. Me included. I started crying over Christmas dinner.

It’s the day after Valentine’s and my office looks like it was hit by a tornado. For the last week or so, I have spent at least half of every day scanning, printing and reading the news posts I get from Yahoo and Google on Internet dating and romance. Face it, folks: CyberRomance is now mainstream, big time. Dr. Phil even did a whole show on it last Friday (February 11). He had the audience packed with single women and then brought in guys they were matched up with through PerfectMatch.com. Dr. Pepper Schwartz who is PerfectMatch’s resident romance expert was also on. I emailed her congrats over the weekend, and asked if any of the pairings had “worked.” She said it was too soon to tell, but some looked promising.

Anyway, I am SO glad to get this blog started, because it will be a great way for me to share what I am seeing come over the wires thick and fast now. It’s too much info for two newsletters a month. So here we are, and welcome to you! And me! We are launched!



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