Kathryn's Blog

Deals on keeping yourself safe

Anyone who reads my blog or newsletter *eMAIL to eMATE* knows that I am constantly harping about safety.  While I don’t think scamming is as much of a problem as most folks think, still, you are the only one who can protect you.  Being educated is the first line of defense. Reading what I have posted here on this blog is a great place to start your education.  I’ve also started developing products to help you get informed, the distilled, “nitty-gritty” about scamming (and lying!) in cheap ($1 each) easy to digest bites: My One Page $1 Wonders.

I’ve also located a great resource for singles concerned about their safety:  AssetSearchPros.com Asset Search Pros has offered an excellent deal for my Find-a-Sweetheart readers and clients: A big 25% discount on all their search packages!  Yea!  We like deals! 

To get you to make yourself just that much safer, all you have to do to take advantage of AssetSearchPros.com’s offer is to buy one or more of my One Page $1 Wonders. After your purchase, you’ll get a followup email with a promotional code that you will use on the AssetSearchPros.com’s site for your selections there.  Is that a deal or what?

AssetSearchPros sent me the following description about background searches that will help you figure out if they are something you can use.  You might want to think about having a search done on yourself.  After all, someone you are dating could easily do a search on YOU.  Shouldn’t you be aware of what might come up?

The Value of a Dating Background Check

Online dating is the fastest growing method for singles who are looking for compatible partners. Whether a person is in their 20’s and just looking for someone to “hang out with” or is older and seeks a “serious relationship”, online dating is the preferred method of millions of people.

Companies such as Match.com, eHarmony, and PlentyofFish provide information on millions of profiles, and sustain business by enrolling hundreds of thousands of new members every year. While it is exciting to find someone whose profile appears compatible with yours, remember that all information is provided by the member themselves. Each member understandably portrays themselves in the best light. Who hasn’t wanted to shave a few pounds of extra weight off of their waistline or deduct a year or two from their actual age? Doesn’t every 41 year old have a better chance of meeting “Mr. Right” when they say that they are 39?

While it is never a good idea to lie when you are looking to build a long-term, trusting relationship, some convenient fudging might be excusable, like height and weight.  But perverts, predators, rapists and murders have equal access to computers and dating sites. While online dating is “safe” and impersonal while you are behind a computer and emailing someone, there comes the time when you actually meet your online partner. How do you know that they are in reality who they claim to be?

A Dating Background Check is an inexpensive method to verify information that you have received. While it can seem minor that someone tries to cover over a few gray hairs or denies owning a herd of cats, information regarding current marital status, financial and legal problems are important, and will be revealed by having a Background Check from a service provider such as Asset Search Pros.

Here are some frequently asked questions and recommendations from our clients.

Q: I just met my date for the first time. We had a cup of coffee. When we discussed jobs and families, he told me that he had just moved to the area and didn’t really know anyone. How do I know he was telling me the truth?

A: We would recommend our Bronze Peace of Mind background check package. It is priced at less than $20 and will verify the name, and possible aliases, as well as current and previous addresses.

Q: I am in my fifties and am just starting to try to meet someone after my spouse died. What kind of things should I be wary of?

A: You need to be protect your personal finances. You may be self-sufficient in the area of money, but in today’s society, many people have had financial reversals. Some of these people are victims and some are guilty of fraud. You don’t want yourself and your children to lose everything to someone who has bankruptcies or court ordered judgments against them. If you should get married, remember, you could become liable for their debts. We recommend our Silver Peace of Mind background check for only $39. It is a small price to pay to discover any public information financial records including bankruptcies, tax liens and property ownership. This package also includes the name and address information provided in the Bronze package.

Q: I am a single mom with two teenage daughters. I just met the most wonderful man. He told me he has children, but doesn’t have much contact with them. How can I know that he is on the up and up?

A: Although it is exciting to meet someone, our children’s safety must be our major priority. Asset Search Pros has access to nationwide criminal databases. We specialize in obtaining names of convicted sex offenders. Our Golden Peace of Mind background check is available for $59 and includes searches for criminals and sex offenders. The package also includes the financials and other information provided in the Bronze and Silver packages.

Q: The person that I have been dating says he has never been married before. He always avoids looking me in the eyes when he talks about his past.  He makes good money, but never seems to pay for his share of the expenses on our dates. Things just seem fishy. Any recommendations?

A: Many of us have things in our past that we are not proud of and are reluctant to reveal. Still, it is better to learn as much as you can about someone before a major surprise comes at you unexpectedly. There could be financial problems or a past criminal conviction. He could have been married before and the reason he is not paying for your dates is the fact that he has court-ordered child support garnishments. There are steps you can take to verify the information he provided. One of the simplest, most economical and accurate methods is to purchase our Platinum Peace of Mind dating background check. It is only $89 and will provide information for: Nationwide criminal convictions, sex offender search, previous marriages, maiden name, bankruptcies, tax liens, civil judgments, possible aliases, extensive address history, property ownership and property values, vehicle ownership, professional licenses, and business ownerships.

All of these packages are available by going to http://www.assetsearchpros.com and clicking on the button “Dating Background”. Just click on Dating Background Check packages and you will see the description of each package. There is a convenient shopping cart for your benefit.


Differently abled? This site’s for you!

Internet dating can work great if you are able-bodied and moderately attractive, but disabilities tend to push singles to the bottom of the list.  One of my clients who is disabled has done very well on the site described below, after several unsuccessful years on the traditional dating sites. I didn’t know that the site was based in Israel.  Good news for my client who is also Jewish!

Israeli dating site brings joy to the disabled
By Rachel Neiman June 04, 2008

Dean is from England and suffers from Spina Bifida. Amber from Montana was handicapped following a car accident. Despite these challenges, the two traveled thousands of miles to be together and are engaged to be married this summer.

Amber and Dean found each other from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean through a website called Dating4Disabled - D4D for short - a free online community and dating service founded in Israel especially for people with disabilities. The popular international website ranks first in Google searches for “disabled dating”, third in Yahoo! for “disabled services” and fourth in Google searches for “disabled” overall.

The growing community has become a global gathering place for the disabled with over 28,000 unique visitors each month. Currently D4D has members throughout the US and Canada, South Africa, England, Australia, South America, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, China, Japan, Bulgaria, Russia, Italy. Through forums, blogs, group chat and instant messaging, over 8,600 members share resources, make friends and create valuable social ties.

Although not specifically for Jews or Israelis, the key to D4D’s success lies as much in the age-old tradition of Jewish matchmaking as with the modern Israeli specialty of search engine optimization (SEO). D4D was developed in January 2006 by Interdate, an Israeli IT company that specializes in website building, online community portals and Internet marketing. In addition to corporate websites and portals, Interdate developed, manages and runs Shedate, the largest dating website for women in Israel.

Interdate’s founders, Yuval Katz and Daniel Brunicki, decided to focus on the disabled community out of both entrepreneurial and social concerns. “D4D was born out of our understanding that, although they surf a great deal on the Internet, the disabled population the world over was under-attended,” Brunicki explains to ISRAEL21c.

“On the other hand, we had advanced Internet capabilities. So we decided to do a good deed. We view the site as a community service, and beyond that, there’s also a business opportunity; there are 30 million disabled persons in the US alone. Our business model is ad-based - the site is free and we don’t intend to ever charge payment - but we do intend to attract ads that are relevant to the community: services, exhibitions, etc., with a special emphasis on the US market,” he adds.

The other key to D4D’s success is Merryl Kaplan, manager of Member Services and D4D’s unofficial matchmaker. “I’m pretty good at pulling people in,” says Kaplan, whose personal involvement is unusual in the cold cruel world of online dating.

“I get very close to people. I have a woman from California who’s an amputee. She met someone a month and a half ago on the site. Now she just met him in person and she called me. She had a wonderful time. Another woman wrote to tell me she just went to Sweden to meet her guy. Who knows what will happen, but it’s exciting!”

The Interdate team is also sensitive to the unique needs of the D4D community and the site was constructed specifically for special needs: it is easily accessible, easy to navigate and its simple format was designed for sight impaired reading software such as Zoom Text.

“A lot of disabled people are so overjoyed to find a site where they feel accepted,” Kaplan notes. “I get mail from people who used regular dating sites, and as soon as they made their disability known, they were dumped. The relief and sense of ease they have from finding a community where people understand is immense.”

She also provides dating dos and don’ts, as in D4D’s most recent newsletter: “I’ve been asked to pass on advice that many men are happy to be ‘courted’ by women; so ladies, e-mail that man you’ve noticed but hesitated to contact.”

On a more serious note, Kaplan is also responsible for the site’s Safety Rules section. “This is a vulnerable population and there are a lot of scammers, so much of my time is spent reviewing IP numbers and blocking suspicious ones. We block both automatically and manually. Part of my job is also teaching users to identify potential scammers - we do that through our newsletter, and write about it in our forums, so they won’t get stung.”

Brunicki adds that the site guarantees anonymity unless a member decides to “go public”. Also, as D4D is free of charge, it requires no credit card information, ID or social security numbers, phone numbers or addresses.


Millionaire Scratch?

In Internet dating, the caveat is always “Buyer beware!” and here is another good example of why.  I haven’t the vaguest idea why any millionaire would list on a dating site like MillionaireMatch.com, or why anyone would believe the riches story.  But clearly folks do—believe, I mean.  Remember the other adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Underlines below are mine.

Homeless man gets more than $100,000 from online conquests
By Sofia Diogo Mateus

A homeless man posing as a millionaire was arrested for scamming 13 women for more than $100,000.

Through the website MillionaireMatch.com, Paul Kruger, 50, met and convinced eight women that he was a Grammy-nominated music mogul who had worked with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, amongst others.

He met the other five alleged victims through one of the women he met on the website.

Later he said needed money for a CD and DVD manufacturing investment, for which the women sent him a total $102,000.

One of the victims was even shown a false stock reports, the court heard, since the operation apparently involved group investment in stock options.

“He did have a good story,” said one victim, a sales manager in Costa Mesa, Calif., who records show gave him $10,000.

The website, which describes itself as the “number one dating site for succesful singles and admirers”, is free and unregulated and anyone can join and claim to be a millionaire, simply by saying that they win $150,000 or more annually.

Steve Kasper, the marketing vice president of Successfulmatch.com, the parent company of MillionaireMatch.com, both bases in Toronto, said it was up to users to self-police.

“We do tell all of our members on all of our sites that you have to take precautions when you’re on the Internet and looking at people that you’re going to meet,” he said.

Charges were filed in Souderton, Pennsylvania, because that is where he told women to send him money; it is also the address of the home of his ex-wife, authorities said.

The money was used to fuel his gambling addiction, since he had various VIP casino accounts, authorities said.

Mr Krueger declined to comment to reporters as he was arraigned on charges of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, deceptive or fraudulent business practices and Pennsylvania Securities Act violations.

The Californian woman said she was willing to be a witness but that the experience had not put her off online dating.

“You have to be careful whereever you go,” said the woman, who is in her 30s. “You could get scammed meeting someone at a bar. It doesn’t matter. You just have to do your due diligence, and I didn’t.”


Finally a site for gay men who want a partner

I met the man who’s behind myPartner.com, a site for gay men looking for long term relationships.  Pat Perrine is just the guy to do this, too.  This site fills an important niche (how come when you you start talking about finding love, everything sounds sexy?), thanks, Pat!

Single Shot: Finding Mr. Right


So I met a fabulous new man the other night.

His name was William and he was funny, handsome, smart and loaded with Southern charm. He also was gay, as were all the guys I met at the Finding Mr. Right party down at the W last week, a swanky singles mingle sponsored by myPartner.com, a relationship-based matchmaking service for “today’s gay man.”

What was a straight girl like me doing at an event like that?

Not looking for a new boyfriend, obviously, although everybody else was. And not just for an hour, a night or a weekend. Despite those crusty old assumptions about gay relationships being strictly about sex and nothing else, these guys were looking for a sweetheart, a soul mate, the old ball and chain.

And I was there to check it out—to hear a few dating stories from the other side of the fence and see if gay matchmaking events were every bit as dorky and awkward as straight matchmaking events.

At first glance, signs seemed to point to yes. There were the obligatory name tags: Hi, my name is Fish Out of Water! The corny cocktails: the Pink Twink and the Man-Trimony. And there were those all-important reindeer games—or at least the promise of them. Sprinkled around the bar and entryway were light blue “flirt cards” imprinted with icebreakers like “I could bring you home to Mom” and “Is it hot in here?” A matching blue flier spoke of a “fun, interactive dating game” to be held later that night. Men fidgeted on one side of the room. Guys shuffled their feet on the other. In the middle, a clutch of confident kids sipped and socialized.

Why is it that no matter how old we get, singles events always manage to take us right back to seventh grade?

Sidling up to the bar, I ordered a martini (straight up, naturally) and started commiserating with William and my buddy Frank about the single life in Seattle. Oddly enough, we all had the same complaints: the married guys who troll for dates on Craigslist, the annoying questions from family members about when we’re going to settle down, the difficulty of making a connection here in the No-Eye-Contact-Northwest.

“I think the best way to meet somebody is through friends or while you’re doing something you love,” said William, grabbing a couple of spiced chickpeas, the closest thing to female companions I could find in the place. “Then you just can be yourself and not put on some big PR show, which is what I hate about dating.”

The “big PR show” is what everybody hates about dating, especially when you’re dating for keeps.

And finding a keeper—via flirt cards or goofy games or whatever else might inspire that elusive thing called chemistry—was what this evening was all about.

Which, according to Patrick Perrine of myPartner.com, was sort of big news.

Two years ago, there weren’t any online dating sites specifically designed to help gay men find long-term partners. There were plenty of services that tracked down soul mates for straights—eHarmony, PerfectMatch, Chemistry, etc.—but gays hoping to meet a man and settle down either had to use a generic dating service (provided it was open to them) or try their luck on gay-centric sites where LTRs weren’t necessarily the focus (on Manhunt, the motto is a succinct and salacious: “Get on. Get off.").

Perrine, the founder and chief executive officer of myPartner, saw a niche and went for it, expanding his private yenta business into a full-blown online dating and matchmaking service that he launched last June. Ironically, the site went live the same week the nation’s best-known soul mate site—eHarmony—was slapped with a lawsuit for violating a California law prohibiting businesses from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation.

From a business perspective, myPartner isn’t really all that different from eHarmony (if you scrunch your eyes just right, anyway). Both services offer a complex compatibility system with questions designed to help members find their perfect mate.

It’s just that on eHarmony they ask you about the last book you read and enjoyed, and on myPartner, they ask what you like to read and whether you’re a top or a bottom. Plus a slew of other questions that don’t apply to straights: if you’ve come out to your family, if you’re comfortable taking a partner to a work event, if you’re into bears.

“eHarmony developed their matchmaking system based on research they did with studies of heterosexual married couples,” Perrine said. “Our compatibility system has been designed for gay men by gay men. We follow a lot of the same methodology but it’s specific to our community.”

Today, the site has nearly 75,000 members nationwide, 95 percent of whom are looking for a sexually monogamous relationship. For Perrine, that number is significant—he’s not only interested in matchmaking, but myth busting.

“We’re here to debunk the myth that gay men aren’t interested in finding lasting relationships,” he said. “You don’t spend an hour going through our compatibility system because you’re looking for a hookup.”

I spent an hour at his party, then bowed out, wondering on my way home if sweet, smart William would make any love connections that night. He wasn’t my Mr. Right, nor was I his, but I was still rooting for the big lug.

The next morning, I got my answer.

“A party full of guys and I get cards from two women!” he wrote in an e-mail.

Hey, nobody’s perfect.


Getting to know you…sometimes too much!

Here’s an article that highlights one of the advantages—and distinct changes—that online dating has brought to courtship and mating.  And one of Internet datings BIG advantages: You know a lot about a person before you even make the first contact, because so much is revealed in their profile.

And just as so often a plus is also a minus, you can find out too much, as the article points out. 

Facebook deletes much of the mystery from dating
By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune
Article Launched: 06/04/2008 12:04:06 AM PDT

Oliver Pangborn hates Dave Matthews Band.

If you looooove Dave Matthews Band, Pangborn probably doesn’t want to date you. If you share his loathing, eh, drop him a line.

Gone are the days when it took a date, maybe two, to find out a person’s resume of likes and dislikes — favorite movie, favorite quotes, special causes. Online matchmaking sites rendered that notion quaint years ago, and now social networking sites are doing their part to obliterate it. “Facebook and MySpace are kind of robbing the mysteries out of dating,” said Pangborn, 30, who lives on Chicago’s Gold Coast. “You find out all these little things about people that you might otherwise let go. If I see someone’s favorite quote is a Dave Matthews lyric or favorite band is Jimmy Buffett, I automatically have an image of them. And it kind of lingers.”

Thanks to online profiles that list everything from salary range to current reading selections, we’ve gotten used to knowing someone’s vital stats before we even meet face to face. Has this changed the qualities we look for in a partner?

Are we becoming a society of mirror-image seekers?

Not quite, say some experts. But we are becoming more adept at linking ourselves to kindred spirits — and that’s a good thing.

“We know from research that opposites don’t really attract,” said Les Parrott, author, psychologist, family therapist and, most recently, online marital counselor for eHarmony Marriage.  “The truth is we’re drawn to people that are like us, and the more we have in common — especially on matters that mean the most to us — the easier time we’re going to have.”

That doesn’t mean you should seek out your doppelganger. For one thing, he or she doesn’t exist. “There’s no such thing as the perfect match,” Parrott said. “Human beings are so complex. No matter how much you have in common, you’re going to have differences.”

Vive la difference

And besides, those differences are half the fun.

“We help each other become better human beings,” Parrott said. “You’re the proverbial sandpaper for each other’s rough edges. If you’re well-matched, you’re going to expand each other’s horizons.”

Pangborn admits he sometimes longs for the days when we weren’t armed with quite so much information.

“It kind of takes away those certain peccadilloes that become endearing later on,” Pangborn said. “If you see right away that they have an Elvis collection, you say ‘Oh, what a freak,’ instead of finding it out as this charming bit later on.”

Louise Baker, 43, met her boyfriend, Bob, on Match.com a little more than a year ago. She says she scanned profiles for a good lifestyle match, rather than a reflection of her own interests.

“I wanted to first find someone that was interested in making a commitment and getting married, then go from there,” said Baker, an artist who lives in Roscoe Village, Ill. “So if they listed that they love to run marathons and spend vacations rock climbing, I knew that our lifestyles were different. But if they listed that they love a glass of red wine with a steak, I knew that the restaurant would also serve white wine and fish for me.”

Helen Fisher, a noted anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of numerous books, including “Why We Love” (Holt Paperbacks), says savvy matchmaking is crucial for 21st century relationships.

Seeking a companion

“We’re looking for a companion,” she said. “One hundred years ago a man needed a woman who would bear him healthy babies and take care of the home. Now we’re looking for a marriage between equals.”

That means carefully interpreting whatever data are in front of us.

“If you discover he’s reading a book about Bertrand Russell, that makes you think he’s educated, he’s curious, he’s therefore productive,” Fisher said. “The mind builds on these little pieces of information.”

Especially, she says, in a time when we’re less likely to pair ourselves with someone we’ve known since childhood.

“We don’t have our family and community to send signals,” she said. “You can’t sell your reputation, you can’t sell your upbringing. Suddenly the book you’re reading becomes magnificently important.”

Of course, the real work begins after a match is made.

“You still need the skills to make the relationship work,” said Parrott. “It’s not like you match up and you’re on easy street. You still need communication and conflict resolution and all the rest.”

Baker says her pre-Bob dating experience bears that out.

“It’s kind of like the housing market,” she said. “Because there’s so much on the market right now, people always want to see what else is out there. But I don’t like house-hunting. I find it very stressful. To me, I feel like I can live in a lot of different places. You make a place yours.

“It’s like that with dating,” she said. “A lot of people are looking for that perfect thing, you know? But it’s never going to be. You just have to have the same dreams and the same goals.”


Canadians get lucky!

Facts on Internet dating from the Canadian press:

From an article in the Calgary Herald Canadians are lucky in love, Saturday, May 24, 2008

The poll also found that 16 per cent of Canadians had found love online, with the younger demographic having more success—more than a quarter of respondents aged 18 to 34 had been successful in seeking a mate via the web. Only seven per cent of those aged 55 and older had started a relationship online, either by way of e-mail or the Internet.


Love those men in uniforms?

Years ago, when I was practicing as a psychotherapist in a rural Maine town, I saw a man who was in trouble at work because he had been reported for running across a field in women’s lingerie.  That wasn’t the worst of it: His job was driving truck for a major beer distributor, and the truck with the beer logo plastered all over it was sitting on the roadside by the field.

The message I gave him, and is repeated in the story below, was: Don’t mix your work life with your sexuality!  Particularly if your work life is easily identifiable. 

Mountie rapped for ad seeking transsexual date
Officer posed in red serge, said he sought relationships with transgendered Thais
Matthew Ramsey, The Province
Published: Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Lower Mainland Mountie has received informal discipline for posting a dating profile online, using a picture of himself in a red serge uniform, to find transgendered and transsexual mates.

“I am looking to meet mature Thai women who are interested in a sincere friendship that can develop into a LTR [long-term relationship] and possible marriage,” wrote “Dave” on the thaikisses.com site.

“Special interest towards TS [transsexual], TG [transgendered] women. Any nice Katoey women looking for a serious LTR.” “Katoey” is a Thai term that typically refers to male-to-female transgendered persons, commonly known in English as “ladyboys.”

Dave identified himself as a divorced 49-year-old from Vancouver who would travel the world if he won a lottery and likes the beach and TV.

He listed his qualities as “humorous, loyal, honest, attractive, realistic, quiet, tolerant, attentive, shy, friendly, sympathetic, fond of children, intelligent, romantic.”

“Dave" registered his profile on Sept. 3, 2006. Senior officers were not aware of the posting until late March.

Staff Sgt. John Ward told The Province it’s “totally inappropriate” for any member to use the RCMP uniform, insignia and their identification as an officer in the context of an online dating forum.

“Dave" has removed RCMP reference from the site, Ward noted.

The RCMP’s chief concern for members revealing their jobs on online social sites is operational, Ward said.

“You might be telling people where you work, who you are, what you are doing,” he said.

Ward declined to reveal any details about “Dave” except that he has been with the force for a “number of years” and his unit commander initiated the discipline process.

Shawnigan Lake RCMP Const. Trent Richards was ordered to resign in February after it was revealed he used plentyoffish.com, flirtbox.com and ratemybody.com to seek sexual partners while on shift. Richards also posted images of himself in the iconic red serge.


Me in a Men’s Magazine? NOT the centerfold…

I got a request a few weeks back for comments about AshleyMadison.com and similar sites which are set up to help married folks who want to have extramarital affairs.  One would wonder: Do these folks really need help?  Well, yes, I think so, but not the kind of help these sites try to give.  That said, I do have comments and wrote them back to the article’s author.  Don’t know if or when my words will be in print (this has got to be a first for me, being quoted in a man’s mag), but I will let you know when and if the time comes.

Here are the writer’s questions (in red) and my response:

You’ve been critical of Ashley Madison and similar sites in the past. No sane person would “condone” infidelity, so beyond that, what’s your criticism? Do you not like how they do business? Do you find them dishonest? Do you think it allows people in unhappy relationships a too-easy way out?

I’m a Romance Coach now, working with singles to help them find a Sweetheart using online dating sites.  So married people who use sites set up for singles to find love are a real problem.  But also, I’ve been a psychotherapist for over 30 years, and my specialty as a therapist was helping married couples when one partner had had an affair.  So I have seen the devastation that occurs with infidelity, way too many times. 

Those prejudices aside, I am actually glad that these sites—like AshleyMadison, IllicitEncounters.com, AdultFriendFinder (not strictly promoting affairs, but certainly providing a venue for all sorts of fringe sexual behaviors), Philanderers.com (not a dating site but full of suggestions on how to successfully have an extramarital affair) – exist. 

Married folks looking for sex outside their marriage (mostly men) have been a problem on the mainstream dating sites like Match.com and Yahoo! Personals.  Speculation has been that as many as 30% of men listing were married (Jupiter Research reported 12% in 2005), though of course they stated otherwise.  Sites springing up like AshleyMadison.com give these people a place to go and act out their fantasies without contaminating the pool of singles who are honestly and straightforwardly looking for a legitimate, above-board monogamous relationship.  In the last couple of years, I have not heard as many complaints about married men on mainstream sites.  I suspect that they have migrated to AshleyMadison and the like, either because the sites exist, or because of the fear of being found out, a real likelihood when profiles without pictures don’t get looked at.  Good riddance.

That said, joining one of these sites is does not signify one of life’s high points.  While the titillation of sex and “romance” are strong, just the premise of an affair – lying to and betraying one’s spouse – is the nadir of sleaze.  And everyone there is of similar character quality.  Yick. 

If you find yourself tempted to patronize sites set up to allow you to misbehave, you need to look back at yourself and question how you got here in the first place.  What does participating in lying and deceit say about you?  Is that what you want, to be a liar and a cheat?  Would you like to have people say, after you die, he was an enthusiastic player on infidelity websites?  He (she) really screwed over his (her) wife (or husband)?  That you were so self-absorbed and self-centered that you could justify all kinds of bad behavior to get what you wanted?  Don’t delude yourself: People can and do find out.  If this is what you have to do to get sex and a parody of romance, you need to do some character work, pronto. 

P. S.  Guys, your fantasy of finding a willing woman on one of these websites to have an affair with is probably destined for failure.  Men FAR outnumber women on these sites. 


Bipolar dating

For those of you who have wondered “What happened?” to the date you had last weekend who never called back, or to the guy or woman who seemed one way in emails, on the phone, or on a first date, then radically different the next time, this article that was in the New York Times a few months ago might explain what was going on:

Modern Love
January 13, 2008

AS a bipolar woman, I have lived much of my life in a constant state of becoming someone else. The precise term for my disorder is “ultraradian rapid cycler,” which means that without medication I am at the mercy of my own spectacular mood swings: “up” for days (charming, talkative, effusive, funny and productive, but never sleeping and ultimately hard to be around), then “down,” and essentially immobile, for weeks at a time.

This darkness started for me in high school, when I simply couldn’t get out of bed one morning. No problem, except I stayed there for 21 days. As this pattern continued, my parents, friends and teachers grew concerned, but they just thought I was eccentric. After all, I remained a stellar student, never misbehaved and graduated as class valedictorian.

Vassar was the same, where I thrived academically despite my mental illness. I then sailed through law school and quickly found career success as an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, where I represented celebrities and major motion picture studios. All the while I searched for help through an endless parade of doctors, therapists, drugs and harrowing treatments like electroshock, to no avail.

Other than doctors, nobody knew. At work, where my skills and productivity were all that mattered, I could hide my secret with relative ease. I kept friends and family unaware with elaborate excuses, only showing up when I was sure to impress.

But my personal life was another story. In love there’s no hiding: You have to let someone know who you are, but I didn’t have a clue who I was from one moment to the next. When dating me, you might go to bed with Madame Bovary and wake up with Hester Prynne. Worst of all, my manic, charming self was constantly putting me into situations that my down self couldn’t handle.

For example: One morning I met a man in the supermarket produce aisle. I hadn’t slept for three days, but you wouldn’t have known it to look at me. My eyes glowed green, my strawberry blond hair put the strawberries to shame, and I literally sparkled (I’d worn a gold sequined shirt to the supermarket — manic taste is always bad). I was hungry, but not for produce. I was hungry for him, in his well-worn jeans, Yankees cap slightly askew.

I pulled my cart alongside his and started lasciviously squeezing a peach. “I like them nice and firm, don’t you?”

He nodded. “And no bruises.”

That’s all I needed, an opening, and I was off. I told him my name, asked him his likes and dislikes in fruit, sports, presidential candidates and women. I talked so quickly I barely had time to hear his answers.

I didn’t buy any peaches, but I left with a dinner date on Saturday, two nights away, leaving plenty of time to rest, shave my legs and pick out the perfect outfit.

But by the time I got home, the darkness had already descended. I didn’t feel like plowing through my closet or unpacking the groceries. I just left them on the counter to rot or not rot —what did it matter? I didn’t even change my sequined shirt. I tumbled into bed as I was, and stayed there. My body felt as if I had been dipped in slow-drying concrete. It was all I could do to draw a breath in and push it back out, over and over. I would have cried from the sheer monotony of it, but tears were too much effort.

On Saturday afternoon the phone rang. I was still in bed, and had to force myself to roll over, pick it up and mutter hello.

“It’s Jeff, from the peaches. Just calling to confirm your address.”

Jeff? Peaches? I vaguely remembered talking to someone who fit that description, but it seemed a lifetime ago. And that wasn’t me doing the talking then, or at least not this me — I’d never wear sequins in the morning. But my conscience knew better. “Get up, get dressed!” it hissed in my ear. “It doesn’t matter if she made the date, you’ve got to see it through.”

When Jeff showed up at 7, I was dressed and ready, but more for a funeral than a date. I was swathed in black and hadn’t put on any makeup, so my naturally fair skin looked ghostly and wan. But I opened the door, and even held up my cheek to be kissed. I took no pleasure in the feel of his lips on my skin. Pleasure was for the living.

I had nothing to say, not then or at dinner. So Jeff talked, a lot at first, then less and less until finally, during dessert, he asked, “You don’t by any chance have a twin, do you?”

And yet I was crushed when he didn’t call.

A couple of weeks later, I awoke to a world gone Disney: daffodil sunshine, robin’s egg sky. Birds were trilling outside my window, a song no doubt created especially for me. I couldn’t stand it a minute longer. I flung back the covers and danced in my nightie — my gray flannel prison-issue nightie. I caught one glimpse of it in the mirror, shuddered, and flung it off, too.

I rifled through my closet for something decent to wear, but everything I put my hands on was wrong, wrong, wrong. For starters, it was all black. I hated black, even more than I hated gray. Redheads should be true to their colors, whatever the cost. I dug deeper, and there, shoved way in the back, was a pair of skin-tight jeans and something silky and sparkly and just what I needed: an exquisite gold sequined shirt.

I slipped it on and preened for a minute. Damn, I looked good. Then I tugged on the jeans. I had gained a few pounds during the last couple weeks of slothlike existence, but once I yanked really hard, they zipped up fine. Although something was sticking out of the pocket: a business card, with a few words scribbled across the back: “Call me, Jeff.”


Jeff! I kicked the nightie out of my way and grabbed the bedside phone. Was 6:30 a.m. too early to call? No, not for good old Jeff! It rang and rang. I was about to give up when a thick, sleepy voice said “Hello?”

“It’s me! Why haven’t you called?”

It took a while to establish who “me” was, but eventually he remembered. “You sound different,” he said. “Or no, maybe you sound more like yourself. I’m not sure. It’s so early.”

Soon I had him laughing so hard he got the hiccups and had to get off the phone. But before he did, he asked me out for Friday, three nights away.

No, I insisted, it had to be tonight, or even this afternoon. I didn’t want to lose another chance to get to know him. I knew that Cinderella had only so much time left at the ball.

We compromised on dinner that evening at 8. I spent the afternoon ridding my house of all evidence of depression. I soaped and scoured and dusted and vacuumed, using every attachment, even the ones that frightened me. Then I ran out and bought a dozen Casablanca lilies to hide the smell of ammonia and bleach.

When the house looked perfect, I turned on myself with the same fury. I buffed and polished and creamed and plucked and did everything in my power to recreate Rita Hayworth’s smoky allure in “Gilda.” As I was shadowing my eyes, I remembered her poignant line about the movie: “Every man I’ve known has fallen in love with Gilda, and wakened with me.” It gnawed at me, to the point that my hand started trembling and I couldn’t finish applying my mascara.

Suddenly I didn’t look radiant. There were lines around my mouth and a hollowness to my eyes that aged me 10 years. My skin, despite the carefully applied foundation and blush, was so deathly pale I recoiled from my reflection.

I sat on the toilet and started to cry. I had met the enemy enough times to know it by sight. Not now, I prayed. Please not now. Globs of mascara ran down my cheeks, and I wiped them away, heedless of the streaks they left. It was 7:57. I had three minutes to wrestle my brain chemistry into submission. Oh, sure, I knew there was another option. I could tell Jeff what was going on. But this was a man who didn’t even like his peaches bruised. What would he think of a damaged psyche?

Maybe he would understand. Maybe I would find the courage. Maybe they would invent a cure.

Maybe, but not tonight. As the doorbell rang and rang, I huddled in the bathroom, shivering. I was terrified — not just of Jeff finding me there, but of me never once finding love.

When it was finally quiet, I rinsed off the rest of my mascara and tossed my cocktail dress into the hamper. Then I buttoned up my gray flannel nightie, and settled in for the long night to come.

I never heard from Jeff again.

THAT was five years ago — five long years of ups and downs, of searching for just the right doctor and just the right dose. I’ve finally accepted that there is no cure for the chemical imbalance in my brain, any more than there is a cure for love. But there’s a little yellow pill I’m very fond of, and a pale blue one, and some pretty pink capsules, and a handful of other colors that have turned my life around. Under their influence, I’m a different person yet again, neither Madame Bovary nor Hester Prynne, but someone in between. I have moods, but they don’t send me spinning into an alternate persona.

Stability, ironically, is so exciting I have decided to venture into dating again. I have succumbed to pressure from friends and signed up for three months of a computer dating service. “Who are you?” the questionnaire asks at the start.

I want to be honest, but I don’t know how to answer. Who am I now? Or who was I then?

Life seems so much tamer these days: deceptively quiet, like a tiger with velveted paws. Every so often the sun shines too bright and I think, for a moment, that I own the sky. I think, how wonderful it was to be Gilda, if only in my own mind. But then I remember the price of the sky. So I take off my makeup, rumple my hair and go to the supermarket in sweats. The gold sequined shirt languishes in my closet. I’m thinking of giving it away.

Not just yet.

Terri Cheney is the author of “Manic: A Memoir,” to be published by Morrow/HarperCollins in February.


Joined at the hip

What would it be like to be in the early “in love” stage of a new relationship for YEARS?  Have you notice either in yourself or others, that when someone falls in love and it is reciprocated, the couple usually sort of disappears for a year or two, blissfully and totally absorbed in each other?  Then the newness wears off a bit and they resurface, both as a couple and individually.

Here’s the interesting story of a long married couple who tried staying within 15 feet of each other, even eating out of the same dish.  Click here to watch them talk about their experience.

Interestingly, what they really missed was that since they had shared the same experience all day, there were no “So what did you do today?” stories to share at the end of the day. 


The United States Emabassy in Russian and Scams

The United States Embassy in Moscow clearly gets frequent reports about US citizens who are victims of Russian based dating scams.  Here’s what the Embassy has put out in response, good advice no matter what country you are dealing with:

Internet Dating Scams

The U.S. Embassy receives reports almost every day of fraud committed against U.S. citizens by Internet correspondents professing love and romantic interest. Typically, the Russian correspondent asks the U.S. citizen to send money or credit card information for living expenses, travel expenses, or “visa costs.” The anonymity of the Internet means that the U.S. citizen cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent. The U.S. Embassy has received many reports of citizens losing thousands of dollars through such scams. American citizens are advised never to send money to anyone they have not met in person.

The internet dating scams include some common elements:

* Misrepresentation about the costs and requirements of a U.S. visa,
* Claims that they must buy airline tickets only in Russia,
* Use of professional models’ photos gleaned from internet web sites,
* Sudden financial hurdles to leaving Russia,
* Requests to send money only through a specific company,
* A scan of a (usually fraudulent) U.S. visa to prove intent to travel.

Please keep in mind that, while the U.S. Embassy in Moscow does not have the authorization to initiate investigations of these scams, the Fraud Prevention Unit can verify the authenticity of any U.S. visa via e-mail at . In addition, complete and authoritative information on applying for a U.S. visa is available on the Department of State’s webpage on Visa Information for Temporary Visitors.


USPO’s advice to prevent love scams

Even the post office puts out guidelines to help you detect a scam:

Love Losses

Learn the warning signs:

* They say they are located in a foreign country and they have a check or money order in U.S. dollars that they can’t cash. But there’s no real reason why they couldn’t use the financial services in their own country to cash it.
* They claim to have a medical emergency or some other problem and ask you to help by cashing a check or money order.
* They promise to come to the U.S. to be with you, but they need you to cash a check or money order to cover travel expenses.
* Only cash a check or money order for a close relative, someone you have actually met in person or someone you have known for a long period of time. You will be responsible if the check is phony.


No one stops OBC…On eHarmony

While I don’t like OnlineBootyCall.com and their general premise (On their home page: “You have entered the most unique singles site on the net. Let’s face it; chances are you will never find your soul mate online. So don’t promise marriage just to get a date. Join OBC today for FREE!"), they do have a sense of humor and do not take themselves too seriously.  What they do take seriously is having fun.  See below the humor they get out of eHarmony’s latest booboo:

OnlineBootyCall.com: eHarmony Ends ‘One Night Stand’ With Walk of Shame
Thursday May 15, 8:00 am ET

SAN DIEGO, May 15 /PRNewswire/—Contradicting its marriage-oriented brand, eHarmony ventured into unfamiliar waters last week by releasing a newsletter titled “Navigating the One Night Stand.” The newsletter instructed singles how to engage in appropriate booty call etiquette, reminiscent of OnlineBootyCall.com’s playful advice in the Booty Call Commandments. The ensuing backlash from members forced eHarmony to take the proverbial “walk of shame” back to their community and issue an apology.

eHarmony’s misstep into the casual dating scene was a tacit recognition of the increasing influence of Americans who are opting to remain single and subscribe to non-traditional dating services. Despite eHarmony’s unwillingness to admit, people joining match making sites are not always looking for marriage. OnlineBootyCall.com, recognizing the special needs of this segment of the population, caters to proud singles who “enjoy being single.” “Let’s be honest, there’s a time in people’s life when they actively choose to be single. They want to enjoy that adventurous stage in their lives. Finding the right person isn’t a one shot, one kill process. You have to explore a bit,” added Moses (Mo) Brown, CEO and founder of OnlineBootyCall.com.

The New York Times(1) piece, “To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered,” captured the crux of this issue, noting that “a growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners.” US Census statistics also corroborate Brown’s statement, as major studies(2) show that the majority of households in the US are comprised of single, unmarried individuals.

With its usual tongue-in-cheek humor, OnlineBootyCall pokes more fun at eHarmony’s embarrassment by releasing its spoof of eHarmony’s marriage compatibility advertisements. The video parodies eHarmony’s compatibility speech, exposing the undertones of sexuality implicit in eHarmony’s coverage of the ‘one night stand.’


eHarmony’s Big BooBoo

eHarmony has an advice section, pretty standard for the most part, but recently the boss was snoozing and a doozy of an article got sent out.  eHarmony actually ended up retracting the story pronto and issued an apology.  Here it is:

A Note from the Publisher

Last week, the eHarmony Advice site published a column called “Navigating the One-Night Stand” that was also included in the eHarmony email newsletter which reached many regular readers of our Advice site. The advice contained in this column was completely inconsistent with our editorial guidelines and the relationship service that we offer to our members. The day after sending the e-mail newsletter, I was made aware of the column and it was immediately removed from our site.

eHarmony is committed to helping its members find highly compatible, long-term relationships and I regret that the inappropriate content and tone of the column could lead our members to believe that we were not interested in their long-term relationship success. For nearly a decade, eHarmony has served its members very effectively by delivering matches that have resulted in tens of thousands of marriages. We apologize to anyone who read the column and found it inappropriate.

You deserve and expect the best from eHarmony and we are dedicated to providing information that resonates with our diverse, vibrant, and thriving community. Please be assured that we are immediately upgrading our editorial review process and are also reviewing our existing content to make sure that it is consistent with the interests of our members.

Stan Holt (bio) ( )
Vice President, Publishing

And here’s the offending piece, which took some sleuthing to uncover (pun intended):

“Navigating the One Night Stand”

So you’re a swinging single and you’ve had a one-night stand.  What’s the etiquette for establishing boundaries, calling the day after and getting out without hurting feelings?

While most of us are looking for that special someone to spend our lives with, the single life dictates that sometimes the opportunity for companionship presents itself in the form of a one-night stand.  While a one-time roll in the hay isn’t exactly emotionally fulfilling, sex in any form can be relaxing, enjoyable, and fun.

So maybe it’s closing time and you haven’t found Mr. or Ms. Right.  If you are up for it, you can enjoy a romp with Mr. or Ms. Right-for-the-night. But when you find yourself in a position to get lucky, you should heed a few rendezvous rules to ensure a seamless one-night-only performance.

Be Up Front
As consenting adults, it’s absolutely fine for both of you to do what makes you happy.  The key is to make your intentions clear with your date and call it what it is: sex with no strings attached.  Once both of you have appropriate expectations, you can appreciate the spontaneous lovin’ for what it’s worth.

Do the Safety Dance
Keep a cell phone with you, and if you can, tell your friends where you will be and your date’s name.  Further, always use protection. Without the risk of sounding like a high school health teacher, protect yourself from STDs and pregnancy every single time to avoid lingering consequences.

Don’t Spend the Night
Unless invited, don’t sleep over.  Snoozing together is too official, and it should be reserved for an established relationship.  Gather up your belongings and make a respectful exit.  Don’t try to leave a trail of personal “bread crumbs,” such as a wallet, a purse—or, worse, your unmentionables—as a gateway for a second meeting.  Hanging around implies desperation, pegging you as the sad Clingy Clarissa or Hopeless Harry.

Don’t Call
One-nighters need not call or check up on the whereabouts of the person they shared the evening with. Acting as if your near-anonymous night of passion was a first date will just confuse sex with love.

Keep Your Mouth Shut
Don’t crow about your conquest or the amazing time you had with this lover to your friends like an adolescent.
One-night stands might solicit spontaneity and liberation, but you ought to know enough not to participate in short affairs unless you are capable of the detachment they require.

If you have the ability to live in the moment and not demand a long-term relationship afterward, then you are golden.


eHarmony Woes

Here’s an article about eHarmony that appeared in a recent “Newsweek”—nothing really new, I’ve written about it all before, but here it is in the mainstream press:

An Algorithm for Mr. Right

The site ‘has never been limited to a Christian audience or to any subset,’ says a company lawyer.
Lisa Miller
Updated: 2:57 PM ET Apr 26, 2008

Let’s say you want to get married and you’re thinking of joining an Internet dating site. Wouldn’t you want that site to be just a little bit picky? Wouldn’t you want it to eliminate the creepy already-marrieds—and the pathological liars? Wouldn’t you be grateful to meet someone who shared your values on children, money, education and God? Isn’t that what your mother wants?

eHarmony, which has had 20 million users since its founding in 2000, promotes itself as the dating service your mother would approve of. Its implied promise: that in this world of hookups, eHarmony can get you hitched. Lately, though, the company has faced a public relations crisis, triggered both by a competitor’s clever advertisements and by a lawsuit charging that eHarmony discriminates against gays and lesbians. Founded by a 72-year-old Christian self-help author named Neil Clark Warren, the dating site requires users to answer 256 questions about personality traits and values. Then, with the help of a complex algorithm, it matches people with much in common. Warren’s philosophy is as comforting as mashed potatoes: “It is so much better to love someone who is a lot like you,” he told National Review in 2005. A company spokeswoman boasts that 236 eHarmony users marry every day.

Among the young and the single—especially those with Blue State values—wariness about eHarmony runs high. For one thing, there’s the association with Dr. James Dobson. Warren published several of his books under the imprint of Dobson’s Focus on the Family and then, when he was first flogging eHarmony, he did it largely via Dobson’s radio show. “James Dobson … did more to help us get started than any other person,” Warren told NPR’s Terry Gross in 2005. Because of Warren’s strong evangelical bona fides, the impression persists that eHarmony is a dating service for Christians—even though the company has severed its ties with Dobson’s group, and eHarmony “has never been limited to a Christian audience or any particular subset of the population,” says a company lawyer.

Trickier (from a PR point of view), eHarmony rejects about 20 percent of its applicants and doesn’t fully explain why. The Internet is abuzz with possible explanations, and last year a savvy competitor called Chemistry.com capitalized on these suspicions. In television ads, seemingly eligible young people face the camera and complain that they returned their library books on time or were only occasionally depressed—and still were rejected by eHarmony. These ads drew a bright line: Chemistry.com is for people who believe in love and romance; eHarmony is for squares who follow an indecipherable set of rules. An eHarmony spokeswoman explains that the site rejects people who are underage, already married or dishonest—as well as those whose answers raise flags about their mental health.

In June, a California judge will hear a plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in a case that accuses eHarmony of discrimination against gays and lesbians. eHarmony does not reject gays—it simply doesn’t accept them: the only choices on the site are “man seeking woman” or “woman seeking man.” A company lawyer explains that eHarmony makes matches based on unique scientific research into what makes heterosexual unions work; it hasn’t done the same kind of work on gay unions, though it doesn’t rule out such research in the future. While this explanation may be true, it also sidesteps the real problem. eHarmony was founded eight years ago by a conservative Christian who had a passionate interest in the benefits of shared values in heterosexual marriage—and he sold this formula within the Christian world. (Warren was not available for comment.) Today, the company desires to reap the economies of scale offered by a mainstream clientele, and in the wider world, shared values are not as easy to compute.



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