Kathryn's Blog

Book lovers unite

Penguin targets lonely bookworms

The site’s users can seek inspiration for classic romantic novels.

Penguin has launched an online dating website with Match.com to bring lovelorn literature fans together.

Members will be asked to list their favourite books in their profile and will be able to search for suitors with similar literary tastes.

Penguin will promote the site in the final pages of more than two million paperback novels.

It hopes the site will restore “the importance of the written word to modern courtship”.

Readers can sign up to the Penguin dating service for free, but are required to subscribe in order to contact other members on the site.

Anna Rafferty, Penguin’s digital marketing director, said that people have a strong emotional connection with their favourite books.

“People are passionate about what they read,” she said.

“What better way to find your life partner than over a shared love for Lawrence or a passion for Pynchon.”


Dear Amy on online stalking

We all worry about online safety, and here’s another version to be concerned about - stalking.  This is a letter to “Ask Amy” with some very good advice in the answer.  See what “Ask Amy” has to say:

Online dating fizzled, but he won’t go away

Amy Dickinson | Ask Amy
August 25, 2008

Dear Amy: Several years ago, I ventured into online dating for a few weeks before realizing that it wasn’t for me. During this time, I went out with a man a couple of times. He seemed very nice, but when I realized there wasn’t a spark, I was honest with him and politely told him that I did not see a future for us.

After this, he continued to e-mail me, and he sent flowers and presents, even though I continued to tell him that I was not interested. While I think this guy is harmless, some of the communications were disturbing. He said he had written a novel in which I was the heroine and talked about seeing clothes that he would love to buy for me. He seemed to have built up a fantasy about me in his mind.

At first, I tried to be nice, but finally I just stopped responding altogether. The last straw occurred when I came home one evening to find that he had delivered a bottle of wine to my doorstep. I live alone and felt vulnerable and violated. When this happened, I e-mailed him and told him that if he contacted me again, I would call the police.

This seemed to work for several months, but now he has started e-mailing jokes to me. Maybe I should just be flattered, but I’d really like this to stop.

Any suggestions?

––Creeped Out

Dear Creeped Out: I agree that this is fairly creepy. Don’t contact this person––even to tell him to stop. Print out all of his e-mails and keep a record of all of his contact with you.

If he doesn’t hear from you, his contact may taper off, but if you are listed in his e-mail address book, he may be including you in group e-mails he sends to everyone in his address book, and you will continue to receive e-mails from him.

Depending on the nature of these e-mails, you should consider changing your e-mail address––for instance, if he starts writing to you personally (and not just forwarding jokes or including you in mass mailings).

It is not a crime to contact someone or to send a person flowers or a bottle of wine, but you should contact the police if his behavior changes or if you feel menaced.

You should also educate yourself about stalking.

The National Center for Victims of Crime offers helpful information and advice on stalking at www.ncvc.org.


Niche sites

The value of niche sites, but they should only be used in tandem with a big, well-respected site like Match.com or Yahoo! Personals.

Love actually...virtually

Singles are turning to niche dating sites which cater to specific desires. They find they have less legwork to do as the sites have done the homework for them. -ST

By Stephanie Gwee

AFTER trying to find Mr Right on general online dating sites like Match.com for more than a year, designer Michelle Chan decided to go one step further.

The 29-year-old went to niche dating portal AnimalAttraction.com six months ago. There, she met another dog lover, a 33-year-old architect, and they dated for three months.

But long-term love was not to be.

Michelle felt that he was too canine-centric: they kept spending time with the dogs, frequenting mostly dog-friendly places. “Sometimes, all I want to do is go to the movies, instead of taking the dogs to the beach all the time,” said Michelle.

But for 27-year-old Kiersten, a Catholic, love found online at niche site AveMariaSingles.com led to a walk down the aisle.

She said: “When I joined the site, I had a clear picture of the kind of man I was looking for. I was seeking someone who loves God and will make Him the centre of our family.

“A few days later, I received an e-mail from Ross; his strong Catholic values were what I was looking for.”

The couple tied the knot in May this year, after one year of courtship.

Whatever the result, people who have zeroed in on niche sites find that the legwork is much easier because these sites have done the homework for them.

“Niche sites are great when you know precisely what sort of partner you want. Such sites let you zoom in on people with specific interests that you are looking for. It is easier to find a partner that way,” said Michelle.

She has been using dating sites for more than a year, and has gone on five “successful” dates as a result. Out of the five, two were from niche portal, AnimalAttraction.com.

Mark Brooks, a consultant who provides dating advice at OnlinePersonalsWatch.com, said: “Singles are eager to use niche sites. It’s the same reason why Procter & Gamble makes so many detergents. We are drawn to things that cater to our specific desires.”

Online dating a big business

GIVEN the wide number of specific desires, there are currently 400 niche sites, said Mark.

Which means practically all interests are catered for - from the esoteric to the garden variety, literally even.

For instance, if you prefer dating vegetable growers or have a fetish for farmer boys, go to VeggieLove.com or FarmersOnly.com.

Obsessed with looks? DarwinDating.com bans members with acne and fat rolls. BbwCupid.com offers the love potion for plus-sized singles.

While online dating is no longer novel, it is big business.

To be sure, niche dating sites have contributed to the overall growth of the get-hitched-online business. The 400 niche sites make up 44 per cent of the total number of dating portals around - up from 35 per cent in 2006.

Already, Nielsen Global Online Study noted that sites that cater to affairs of the heart are often on the hotlist, with 25 per cent of Internet users looking for love online and 5 per cent checking dating sites daily.

Hitwise, an Internet analysis company noted that there are now 1,378 dating sites - up from 876 three years ago.

Experts estimate that the global online dating market is worth a whopping $1.75 billion , up from $1.25billion in 2006.

Finding love is cheaper online

BRICK-AND-MORTAR matchmaking agencies charge between $50 and $200 monthly.

For general dating sites, most are free-of-charge because they earn from advertisements rather than monthly fees from clients.

Niche sites usually require members to pay anything from $20 to $70 per month, citing high success rates in bringing love birds together.

For one, AveMariaSingles.com claims that it has had a hand in more than 800 marriages since 1998.

At either niche or general dating sites, users simply sign up to be a member, fill up personal details and state the qualities they are looking for in an ideal partner. Anything from their partner’s eye colour to favourite movie can be specified.

Your personal interests will then be published on your profile page and the site will match your interests with those of other members.

There are risks involved

HOWEVER, if love is blind in real life, it may be even more blind online.

Experts caution against fools rushing in. Certainly, there may be more than heart breaks from relationships that don’t work out.

Online dating advisory website RomanceScams.org, for instance, reported that 250 of its members lost a total of US$2.2 million (S$3 million) - or some US$9,000 per person - as a result of their being cheated by online suitors.

Naturally, online dating has its fair share of naysayers.

Said Chia Xi Men, 23, an undergraduate: “My mother thinks that online dating is for middle-aged people who can’t get married.”

The stigma is fading though.

A 2006 study by Pew Internet Project, a research initiative that explores the impact of the Internet on users, shows that only 29 per cent of the interviewees saw online dating website users as desperate, while 61 per cent disagreed with that label.

According to Xi Men: “When I told my friends about my successes, five of them also signed up. So it’s common for young people to use dating sites now.”

Here are some safety tips

IT’S as easy as a mouse click, but experts warn that seeking love on the Web requires caution. Some tips from Match.com.

-Use an anonymous e-mail address

Spammers have been known to use online dating sites to obtain people’s e-mail addresses. So, set up a third-party e-mail address for online dating purposes. If you get spammed, at least your personal inbox won’t be swamped.

-Avoid using a sexy online name

The monicker might get you noticed - but by the wrong types. Such user names might also encourage lewd or unwanted attention.

-Keep a record of your conversations

Should your online suitor turn out to be an online fraudster, having records of your e-mail conversations would be useful if you want to report him to the police.


Ashley gets the ax from ESPN

AshleyMadison.com has been advertising on TV???  A site devoted to helping married folks have extramarital affairs?  Eeee-yick.  Even more tasteless than the premise of the site.  Thank goodness ESPN has had the good sense to yank the ads.  Note the article says that ESPN is owned by Disney, the “family” business.

Extramarital Affair Ad Gets Axed ESPN Says It Has Asked Affiliates to Pull an Ad for a Cheaters’ Matchmaking Service

Aug. 4, 2008 —

ESPN is yanking a commercial for an infidelity matchmaking service.

Amy Phillips, a spokeswoman for ESPN—which is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News—said that the sports channel has asked its local affiliates to stop running an ad for AshleyMadison.com, a Web site that connects would-be cheaters with potential mates.

Phillips would not say why the channel decided to pull the ad.

Noel Biderman, the president of AshleyMadison.com, who learned of ESPN’s decision from an ABCNews.com reporter, said he felt that “a double standard” had been applied to his company with respect to advertising.

He said ESPN is “inundated” with advertisements for alcohol, a product “responsible for health issues and ultimately death.”

“Somehow I’m immoral and everything else is OK,” he said.

AshleyMadison.com boasts a membership of more than 2.2 million. For $49, members can create profiles and send e-mails and instant messages to each other. A slogan on the company’s homepage reads “Life is Short. Have an Affair.”

The 35-second commercial shows an unhappy-looking man lying in bed alongside a snoring woman. As he gets up and leaves the bedroom, a narrator’s voice declares, “Most of us can recover from a one-night stand with the wrong woman, but not when it’s every night for the rest of our lives. Isn’t it time for AshleyMadison.com?”

Biderman said that his company, which was based in Toronto, was spending more than $1 million this summer to run the ad on several television channels, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, Fox News Channel and Spike.

But some of the networks on Friday distanced themselves from the ad.

A spokesman for Spike said he wasn’t sure if the network had ever run an ad for AshleyMadison.com but added that “if it did run, it would never run again.” Representatives for both the Fox network and Fox News also said that the channels would never air the ad.

Robert Marich, the business editor at the trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable, said that just because a national network has disavowed an ad, it doesn’t mean its local affiliates or cable providers that carry their programs have done the same.

Marich said that both national television companies and local television stations each sell on-air advertising time. Local stations and cable providers are often run by owners independent of the national networks, he said. While national television companies have control over the commercials they run, he said, they don’t impose restrictions on or review the ads that their local stations air.

“In general, [local] TV stations set their own policies for what’s an acceptable ad or not because they’re responsible for what they put on their air,” he said.

Biderman said that the commercial represented the company’s third television campaign. Previous Ashley Madison commercials—which ran between 2003 and 2007—had usually aired after 11 p.m. at night and on programs with “desensitized” audiences such as the “Jerry Springer Show” and “Cheaters,” a reality show about infidelity. It has also been advertised on Sirius satellite radio.

The new television campaign, he said, was designed to reach more people and would be aired during the day in some markets.

Unlike its last commercial, which showed a man and woman rolling around in bed, the new ad is “a little edgy” and “a lot more humorous,” Biderman said.

“We really wanted something that could sit in a sports property, that could sit in a news property,” he said.

The ad has run on ESPN’s “Sports Center” program and Biderman said there were also plans for it to run during CNN’s “Larry King Live” and “Anderson Cooper 360.”

CNN did not return calls for comment Friday.

While the ad is sure to raise the ire of conservative and family values groups, media watchers disagree about the impact that the commercial may have on consumers and their attitudes toward infidelity.

Bob Garfield, an advertising critic for the magazine Advertising Age, said that a profusion of such ads could “normalize what was previously considered deviant behavior.”

“A 30-second spot for human trafficking is probably just around the corner,” he said.

But Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said that when it comes to perceptions of infidelity, the Ashley Madison ad is “a drop in the bucket.”

“I think that idea is being normalized by our neighbors, what we hear other people doing, its depiction in literature, movies, everything else,” he said. “This little television ad saying that people are in infidelity relationships is a tiny little piece.”

John Chapin, an associate professor of communications at Penn State University, said that the commercial is a reflection of infidelity in society today—albeit a distorted one.

“It’s us but a little bit more exciting, a little bit more promiscuous, a little bit more interesting than what we really are,” he said. “The commercial wouldn’t exist if the culture wasn’t there, but it’s just punched up a notch.”

Biderman said he did not believe the company’s ads would prompt someone to cheat on his or her significant other.

“I maintain that in a 30-second TV spot, I’m not convincing anyone to engage in infidelity,” he said. “I don’t have that power of persuasion.”


Five Online dating rules that you should not miss

This is a wonderful set of five online dating commandments.  It’s just a tiny bit tongue and cheek, but all right on.  Y’all should memorize these rules:

The 5 Ultimate Rules of Online Dating by Tasha Cunningham

According to Tasha Cunningham of dontdatehimgirl.com, there are five-must-follow rules to follow when online dating:

1. Thou shalt not use thy real name, at first. Don’t give out any of your personal information when you connect with someone online. Remember, there are thousands of predators lurking online looking to gain a woman’s trust and become a part of her life to later drain her bank account or worse. Don’t let this be you!

2. Thou shalt meet your online date for the first time in a public place. Remember, a guy you meet online may seem like Mr. Perfect and any girl would want to invite Mr. Perfect home, but remember, you haven’t confirmed that your online love is truly Mr. Perfect yet. That’s a process that’s going to take time, so make sure you meet in a public place for your first date.

3. Thou shalt be aware of fake dating profiles. Remember when your mom told you that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is? Well, it goes for everything including dating profiles. If a man online seems to have every single thing you’re looking for, beware. Remember, the Internet is a place where people can hide behind usernames and passwords and Mr. Perfect2008 that’s caught your eye online may really be Mr.SweetheartSwindler2008.

4. Thou shalt not have a virtual online affair if you’re in a real-life relationship. Here’s the test, if you’ve got a significant other and kids waiting for you at home when you leave work every day, you should not be chatting about sex or other romantic topics with someone online. In essence, you’re having a cyber-affair, so don’t do it.

5. Thou shalt not create an online dating profile if thou art married, engaged, living with someone or in a relationship where you refer to the other person as your boyfriend or girlfriend. Don’t use the Internet to troll for an affair. If you’re unhappy in your relationship, end it with dignity instead of engaging in the deceit of infidelity.

- Tasha Cunningham


Does Internet dating work?  Look at these eye-popping numbers!

These numbers speak for themselves.  Internet dating is THE way to find love, particularly if you are over 45. 


Single men and women are more likely to find true love on the internet than at work or at a party - especially if they are over 45. A poll of 10,000 married couples in 2006/2007 found 19 per cent met online compared with 17 per cent who got together at work and 17 per cent who paired up through pals. Of these, 31 per cent aged 45 to 54 met online, against 18 per cent of 20 to 44-year-olds. Galen Buckwalter of online matchmaker eHarmony, California, said: “Wanting to get married and not going online will soon be seen as equivalent to trying to find an address by driving around randomly - rather than using a map.” In contrast a similar poll of 5,000 couples who married between September 2004 and August 2005 found that 14 per cent met online, compared with 20 per cent at work and 17 per cent through friends.


Foriegn brides?  Think twice, then think again

Occasionally I have a client who has decided to look for a mate overseas.  While the reasons may differ, the risks are the same.  And dating outside the US is risky.  Take a look at this article for a few eye-openers:

Disappointment Awaits Men Seeking Foreign Brides Online
Sites promising exotic Asian, Russian women are often scams ... or worse

By Tom Glaister

I was in an internet café in Thailand last year, trying to work out which continent I should fly to next, when my attention was entirely absorbed by an attractive Thai girl who sat down next to me and logged in. She gave me one of those Thai smiles that could mean anything at all and then concentrated on her correspondence. I was beginning to wonder if Thailand had its merits after all and couldn’t help stealing repeated glances at her.

She was totally absorbed in her online conversations with four messenger windows going at once, however, and in each of them I could see the photo of a Western guy. The youngest had to be 45 at least.

I miss you.
When you coming back?
I wait for you but I no have money for my rent.

I looked at her again and realized she was wearing too much makeup and revealing clothes for the average Thai girl. She almost certainly worked in a bar as a hostess for Western guys looking for Eastern romance and now that their holidays were over, her “boyfriends” were back home at work, dreaming of the month or two they’d spent in Thai heaven. They’d be coming back as soon as they could afford it — if their “girlfriend” didn’t drain their bank accounts dry in the meantime.

Thailand, like Brazil or the Philippines, is full of Western guys trying their luck with women half their age. With terrible dress sense that betrays the serious lack of a woman’s touch, it can be pitiful to watch them trying to mend their hearts under flashing neon signs, sharing a common vocabulary of maybe 500 words with the women they meet.

It’s not easy getting old. Along with worrying about balding, beer guts and prostate cancer, many American men suffer the flip side of the national individualistic character — they end up feeling quite alone.

As school friends move away and get married, opportunities to make new social contacts tend to diminish with age. And our modern lifestyles often dictate that we work alone in front of a computer, shop alone in a supermarket and go home alone to apartments where neighbors don’t talk to one another.

Until the Internet came along, the natural desire to meet the opposite sex did much to boost the attendance at bars and evening classes in the hope of meeting that special someone. Drinking too much beer and pretending to be interested in learning Italian were the only options left open to the millions of Americans who simply didn’t know how else to meet anyone new.
Out of the bars

photo of dating siteBut then the advent of online dating sites meant the American guy could go hunting without having to get out of his dressing gown. Unshaven and unwashed he could woo any number of women by complimenting them on their profile photo and including the right kind of charismatic emoticon in the message to show his sensitive side. It made the first step in dating safe, voyeuristic and cheaper than buying drinks all night while searching for the courage to approach the blonde on the other side of the bar.

Which explains why some 40 million American men logged onto dating sites last year.

Yet there remained the fact that most of the women on American dating sites were … well, American.

“They’ve lost their femininity!” an American expat once told me when explaining his choice to move south to Mexico. “American women these days dress like men, talk like men and call you a chauvinist if you ask them to make you a cup of coffee.”

I thought of the aggressive, sexless look of the supermodels and the passing of the days when men tipped their hats to women in the street. Then the expat’s Mexican wife came in, brought us each another beer, wiped the table and went off to calm the crying children and prepare lunch.

Talk to American men who have married foreign women and 90 percent of them will have been attracted to the old-fashioned values of another culture. Dinner on the table, clean clothes in the cupboard and strong maternal instincts.

“Western women have been campaigning for equality for so long that happiness went out of the picture long ago.” another friend married to a Thai wife told me.

I initially thought this was a bit over the top until I learned that even complimenting a female co-worker can be considered grounds for sexual harassment. Have feminism and political correctness taken all the fun out of American love?

Well maybe. But there’s also the fact that, for many, exotic is erotic and there’s nothing like a foreign accent or complexion to hide the personality faults that stop domestic relationships getting off the ground.

Where to look?

I get asked this all the time by guys everywhere I go when they hear that I’m always on the road. Surely by now I must have found that paradise where sultry babes spend all day topless on the beach, ready to trade their bodies for a cocktail and a cheap pick-up line.

In fact, guys tend to be such suckers for this fantasy that Russian scam artists send out millions of emails allegedly from hot girls called Tanya or Olga. Accompanied by alluring photos, the messages promise eternal friendship, physical relationships or marriage.

In realilty, the people sending out these snares are often hairy Mafioso guys in their dressing gowns who know just how to talk to the average male libido. Should they convince someone that they really have found love, an actress is employed to turn on the emotional blackmail by phone and initiate the first in a series of requests for money to arrange her visa/buy a flight ticket/pay off kidnappers or any number of absurd pretexts. Naturally, she never gets on the plane.

But can true love be found abroad?

According to the senators who sponsored the recently-enacted International Marriage Broker Regulation Act designed to protect foreign women from stealthy male American predators, some 8,000 to 12,000 U.S. men marry foreign wives each year. The divorce rate of such couples is up to three times lower than the national average and hundreds of agencies exist to introduce American men to these Russian, Colombian or Filipina beauties. I just typed ‘Russian girls’ into Google and 9 of the first 10 results turned up mail order bride or dating services.

Introduction agencies can serve a valid role. The honest ones can put you in touch with women in the destination country looking for long-term relationships. They can arrange tours and help with translation and bureaucratic difficulties. Surfing around some of the sites I had to wonder about the motives of some of the women involved, however.

“My name is Ludmila and I am student of psychology. I am looking for man to care about me, care about our children and make my dream come true.”

Her script might have been a little more convincing if the accompanying video hadn’t shown her walking down a main shopping street in the Ukraine in lingerie. Other videos showed Russian student girls in bikinis, draping themselves around national monuments while they talked about their hobbies. I was somehow reminded of Miss World contestants talking about world peace. Then of course my girlfriend walked in and point blank refused to believe it was all part of my journalistic research…
Gold diggers?

So were these beautiful girls really looking for true love or were they just in it for the money?

Any American guy looking to marry a woman from a poorer country is always going to have the doubt at the back of his mind that she’s only going through the whole ordeal to get her hands on his bank account. And even if he’s too enamoured with the hobbies of his new love to think about it, the social stigma of a ‘mail order bride’ can make him the laughing stock of the community.

Thanks to the Beatles, we all know the money can’t buy you love and why else would a young woman choose to leave home and marry a stranger?

Before I left Thailand last year I found an interesting guide on the shelf of the airport bookshop that was a manual for foreign men and their Thai wives. On the left hand side of the book the text was in English and opposite the same content was written in Thai. The idea being that couples could read the book together and navigate their way through the cultural minefield which can sink mixed marriages before they get started.

Particularly enlightening was the section on money. Thai women were informed that ‘love and money are seen as separate and distinct concepts in Western society’ and that if their husbands seem stingy it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care.

The men, on the other hand, were encouraged to understand that husbands in Thailand are expected to take care of the families of their brides. It’s simply a form of gratitude for having raised the wonderful woman they have now married.

It seems that sometimes we get so caught up in looking for ulterior motives that we forget some of the basics of human nature.

Since the beginning of time marriage has had a strong economic aspect in cultures all over the world. How long ago was it in the West that a young man’s suitability was based on his “prospects” and his ability to keep his bride “in the manner to which she has become accustomed?”

Many of us announce our wealth every day in the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the places we frequent. And it’s not unreasonable to suppose that most women would prefer their partners to be reasonably solvent. Naturally, try to buy a feminist a drink and you might receive a knee to the groin but these are strange times…
Asking for trouble

Many Americans who marry foreign wives do end up getting scammed, cheated or abandoned once her visa comes through but they’ve usually invited trouble on themselves.

After years of loneliness they often step right off the plane into a bar in Bangkok and start dating the first girl who approaches them. Or else they choose a woman half their age who fulfills all their fantasies but who doesn’t speak English and who sees them only as a walking wallet.

Finding love abroad is mostly about common sense. For a start, you’re unlikely to find the woman of your dreams in a bar with girls doing pole dances in the corner.

Whether in Colombia, Russia or Thailand, respectable women with serious intentions live normal lives and it takes time to get to know them. You need to be able to speak at least some of the same language and have something in common. And if you expect her to emigrate, you might first want to live for a while in her country to appreciate what kind of culture she comes from.

And if you get to know her first on an Internet dating site, remember that no one who’s honest will ever ask you to send money upfront. Period. And if the first couple of telephone calls go well, jump on a plane and go to meet her — if you discover she has a bad drinking habit and she can’t stand your body odor … well, at least you’ll have found out in time.

Finding love abroad can be thrilling. Hell, it’s one of the things that keeps me on the road all the time.

But while the average Vietnamese girl might be half the weight of her American counterpart, she may not be able to get your jokes and a festival like Christmas probably won’t mean anything to her. She may cook food you’re not used to and hate the weather but hey, at least you probably won’t be able to understand what your mother-in-law says.

And lastly, before you go running overseas to look for love, ask a female friend if there’s any way you could make yourself more attractive before you go. Terrible body odor, drinking before noon and an inability to listen are turn-offs to women anywhere you go.



You wouldn’t believe how many women I work with who want to only date men over 6 feet tall.  That’s the height of heightism, as far as I am concerned, and not a good idea for women to insist on anyway.  Did you know that only 15% of American men are 6 feet or taller?  That means that any woman insisting on over 6 feet is ELIMINATING 85% of perfectly good men.  Seems pretty dumb to me. 

Dating column: Women hypocrites for refusing to date short men

By Steve Penner

The first column I wrote three years ago dealt with the single issue that bugged me the most during the 23 years I ran the dating service LunchDates. Frankly, it was the aggravation caused by this issue that partially motivated me to start writing these columns.

I am referring to single women’s prejudice against meeting short men. Since I doubt that too many current readers actually saw that column, I decided to revisit the topic. After all, this is one area in which many women display all the shallowness and superficiality that they love to accuse men of possessing.

The same woman who is 10-20 pounds overweight, and who cannot understand why a man might not want to date her because of those few extra pounds ...; that same woman often will refuse to meet a man who is 2 inches shorter than her “ideal.”

During my years at LunchDates I interviewed women who were very flexible about a man’s religion, his hobbies, and even whether he was divorced. But the one criterion they would not budge on was his height!

I am not just talking about tall women. It is certainly understandable that a woman who is 5 feet 10 inches might want to meet a man over 6 feet tall. (In fact, though, the few women who stated that they were open to meeting men shorter than themselves tended to be taller women.)

What really perplexed me was the number of short women who insisted that they only would date men considerably taller than themselves. It was very common for women 5 feet 4 inches or under to state that they “absolutely” only wanted to meet a man at least 5 feet 10 inches, and they really preferred 6 feet.

I find it amazing how many women have attached an almost magical meaning to the height of 6-feet tall. If society tended to describe people in terms of inches rather than feet, I wonder how attractive it would sound to hear a man described as “72 inches tall,” rather than “70 inches.”

If you are skeptical, have a single man you know place an ad on an Internet dating site saying that he is 6 feet. Than have another man place an identical ad except for stating that he is only 5 feet 10 inches. I guarantee that the first ad will attract nearly twice as many responses from women!

Now many of the women I interviewed at LunchDates were “modern” women who insisted on equality in every way ...; except height. That is, they were educated, had good jobs, and earned a decent income. They only wanted to meet men who also were educated, had good jobs, and earned a decent income.

But those men also had to be tall! When pushed to the wall and asked their reasons, they replied with some of the following excuses:

* “I usually wear shoes with at least three to four-inch heels,” some women responded very naturally. They also frequently pointed out that many boots have even higher heels. So these women would add at least three to four inches to their own height just to pull even, then another few inches to make sure that the man on their arm was still taller.
* “My father, my brother, and all the men in my family are over 6 feet, so that is what I am used to,” one women stated, insisting that she KNEW that the average height of men was around 6 feet. When I tried to tell her that the median height of men was between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 9 inches, she got up and angrily marched out of the interview room!
* “I am short, and I am looking for a man to father my children, and I don’t want to have short children,” a number of women told me, with a straight face, I might add.
* “I just feel safer when I walk down the street with a man who is much taller than me,” was also a common response.
* “I am only attracted to tall men, I just can’t help it!”

So where does this height bias leave short men? Behind the proverbial eight-ball, I am sad to say. After all, take a woman who is only 5 feet 2 inches, add three to four inches for her “heels,” another two to three inches so she can feel safe, and lo and behold, it is not unusual for such a women to refuse to meet any man under 5 feet 9 inches. That means she is eliminating about one-half of the male population.

I was especially disheartened when interviewing a man under 5 feet 6 inches. After all, it is easy to tell a single man or woman who smokes a pack a day that he or she would have a much higher Dating Quotient (that is be easier to match) if he or she quit smoking. It is a little more awkward to tell a woman who is very overweight that she will be difficult to match unless she drops a few pounds.

But a smoker can quit, and an overweight woman can lose weight. But there is not much a short man can do.

Fortunately I am not referring to all women. There are (and were) exceptions.

For research purposes, I occasionally would glance through my dating service’s “married file,” (a file that obviously contained the profiles of couples who met and married through LunchDates). I noted that many of the women in that file had stated in their interview that they really cared very little how tall their matches were, and that flexibility had translated into a very successful membership.

Then I looked through the file of people who had completed their membership at LunchDates without meeting anyone. Sure enough, it was full of those women who had insisted they would only meet men much taller than themselves.

Over the years I became increasingly frustrated by many women’s lack of flexibility in this area. Once I decided I was really going to “negotiate” with a short woman who was insisting that she only wanted to meet men over 6 feet. The woman had just stated that she was looking to get married and have children.

“You realize that if you are talking about growing old with a man, most people shrink a couple of inches as they hit old age,” I said.

The woman paused, thought about what I said, then responded “Well, if he’s going to shrink, all the more reason to only meet someone very tall!”


Cat Lovers Unite!

I checked out this new niche dating site for cat lovers and was in for a treat, maybe you too.  I normally don’t cover or recommend small niche dating sites, but this one caught my eye. If you go to Purrsonals.com and wait just a few seconds, what look like a live avatar comes out of the left margin, a woman holding a cat, and both look real.  She talks about the dating site, but I couldn’t help but see that she had hired our very own TJ to work with her to promote the site.  You can see him relaxing here.

A site like this will probably have a very low sign-up rate and many more women than men, even though it’s a cute idea.

What do you think of avatar?  Do you like them or do they turn you off?


Green dating?

I don’t tend to suggest niche dating sites, green or otherwise.  Internet dating is about numbers, and niche sites are, by definition, about small slices of the singles community.  This article below struck me as pretty west coast, Seattle in particular, but I went ahead and took a look at the GreenSingles.com site anyway.  I did a search on Florida, men looking for women, and a surprising 224 guys came up.  And most seem to be the over-40 crowd.  However, there were 379 ladies looking for men in Florida too.  That’s about 50% more women than men.  (Always check the gender ratios and go for the sites that you have an advantage in) I checked Maine, too, and while the numbers were smaller, they were respectable.  Though the ladies outnumbered the men 2 to 1. 

A niche site that appeals to a part of you might be worth some time and investment, but pick on IN ADDITION to your big name, big membership site.

Single Shot: The eco-dating game Special green services want to help you find a sustainable soul mate


Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as if everybody’s trying to out-green one another these days. A woman I was talking to at a restaurant the other night said she’s even using Seventh Generation diapers for her baby. I don’t know about you, but that seems like one really old diaper.

But such is the pressure to reduce, reuse and recycle.

As an apartment-dwelling single with nary a dependent, I can’t brag about how I use cardboard diapers for my kids. Nor can I point to the energy-efficient appliances I’ve purchased for my solar-powered yurt, or wax sanctimonious about my backyard worm bin (I’d install one in the kitchen but my lease says no pets).

But I can do one thing to keep from being completely left in the eco-dust. It’s called green dating.

Green dating officially got its start about five years ago, around the same time niche sites like LargeFriends.com and EquestrianSingles.com began cropping up faster than recycling ordinances in the city of Seattle.

GreenSingles.com, a personal-connection site for people in the environmental, vegetarian and animal-rights communities, probably has been around the longest, hooking up singles who share a “global consciousness influenced by holistic philosophies, green politics and a willingness to explore the mind, body and spirit” (i.e., tree-huggers looking for love) since 1985.

A quick search through the site - “made with 100 percent recycled electrons!” - yielded me 71 potential dates in the greater Seattle area (I’m thinking global, but dating local), including a marine biologist, a musical gardener and some guy who lives on a permaculture farm in the woods. (Does that mean he grows pot?)

Over at Green-Passions.com, brought to you by the same folks who created StachePassions, MulletPassions and TruckerPassions (what, no TrailerParkPassions?), I didn’t have nearly as much luck. My search netted only four eco-friendly singles in my area, plus the site kept crashing every time I tried to check out the guys’ profiles.

Not that it really mattered. Butted up next to each match was a large ad for a hot pink waterless composting toilet. I’m all for saving water and everything, but talk about a buzz kill (not to mention a not-so-subtle reminder that my love life was in the crapper).

Undaunted, I plowed ahead and soon found a handful of other sites where a green - or even celery-colored - single could find a sustainable soul mate.

DemocraticSingles.net ponied up 86 matches from a pool of more than 25,000 environmentally and politically aware mates, including one guy interested in “trees, mountains, sex, wild birds and conversation” (or was that conservation?). Earth Wise Singles (ewsingles.com) gave me 21 candidates, among them a tall slender sensualist into environmental design and another guy hoping to find someone who likes to garden naked.

Let’s hope he doesn’t keep raspberries.

EthicalSingles.com is a matchmaking portal for people concerned about human rights, animal rights, pollution, global warming, genetic engineering, organic farming, timber sourcing, circus animals and a slew of other topics you’ll never hear discussed on Fox News.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single ethical date in my area. At least not until I widened my search criteria by 60 years, lied about my home state and switched my sexual preference. None of which felt exactly, well, ethical.

Dateless but undampened, I surfed over to GreenSpeedDating.com, which touts itself as a new way for singles to find “carbon neutral love.” Only around for a matter of months, the L.A.-based Web site recently held its first event in Santa Monica in which 16 singles hiked, biked, bused and (gasp!) drove to a bar for complimentary fruits and veggies and a raft of three-minute minidates.

Although there was nothing on the calendar for Seattle, singles across the country are encouraged to set up their own GSD events (just go to the site and click on the appropriate link). Not only will you up your chances of finding the low-impact love of your life, your $25 fee will go into a fund designed to take solar energy to rural Nicaragua.

And there are greener pastures yet.

In June, Portland’s Pedalpalooza sponsored a “bicycle speed dating” event, drawing 40 single cyclists in all their helmet-haired glory. Here at home, there’s SeattleGreenDrinks.org, a big green monster of a gathering held the second Tuesday of each month (for those who don’t like crowds, there’s the more intimate Green Lunches).

Although the group isn’t a singles organization per se, there’s plenty of environmentally savvy eye candy plus lots of opportunity for, if you’ll pardon the expression, icebreakers ("Soooo � are you as concerned about toxic sex toys as I am?")

As for me, I may decide to join one of the eco-dating sites (many offer free or discounted memberships to those who donate to green causes) or spend some quality time discussing all things organic over a biodegradable cup of green beer.

Then again I may decide to simply stick to the basics: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Surely I have to have at least one old boyfriend I can ease back into the dating picture. Heck, I’ve recycled before; why quibble about doing it now when resources are so tight?

Or maybe I’ll ask around to see if anyone in my circle of friends has discarded some perfectly good soul mate. Instead of letting him just go to waste, I can pick him up, dust him off and see if he wants to get eco-friendly. The two of us can ditch the car (relatively easy for me since I don’t have one), skip the wasteful wining and dining and go for a nice long (trash-collecting) walk on the beach.

Who knows? If we like the cut of each other’s carbon footprint, we might even come back to my place for a quick game of spin the recyclable bottle.


Hire a coach? Yea!

Jennifer Wallingford may be able to help you get a date—she’s a coach who’s looking for love herself.  But does she have the credentials of actually finding a mate?  Not yet it seems.  I do like her advice about how to say “No, thanks!” underlined below:

St. Petersburg Times

Jennifer Wallingford says she’s just the person to give advice on dating and relationships. She’s single herself and on the lookout for Mr. Right.

A certified life and relationship coach, Wallingford, 35, recently started Focusing Forward to help people develop better relationships and, hopefully, find true love. At the core: understanding what you want and what makes a healthy relationship.

Clients attend two- to four-hour workshops on smart dating, discovering your personality and defining needs. Graduates can join Focusing Forward’s dating Web site for $30 a month or participate in group meetings on the art of attraction. (See focusingforwardcoaching.com.)

We chatted with Wallingford for an introduction to the dating basics.

Q: A common dating mistake?

A: Thinking that a first date should be a Friday- or Saturday-night dinner and movie. There’s so much pressure. It’s supposed to be fun and playful. By doing a short date, you get to experience the person. And if you like them, you get the opportunity to think about them and miss them.

Q: Any others?

A: People feel that there’s interrogation. What do you do, and so on. When we were kids and someone new moved into the neighborhood, you didn’t go, “What’s your jump shot like?” “What’s your favorite action hero?” You let them play and you asked questions along the way. That’s what a first date should be like: “Let’s take a walk and just get to know each other.”

Q: How do you turn down someone nicely?

A: You have to sit down and say, “I think you’re a great person, and I can’t wait to introduce you to a future girlfriend of mine and tell her that I’ve been on a date with you, and I think you’re great. But I don’t think that you and I click.” Everybody networks for business. You can network in your single life, too. You never know who that person knows.

Q: What do you think of reality dating TV shows?

A: I think they’re amusing, but I don’t think they’re realistic. If I was dating a guy and I found out that he was dating 12 other women, I would say, “Nope, you’re a little too preoccupied for me.” It’s sad, but there are some people who watch these programs and actually think that’s how things should be done. They need to realize it’s entertainment.

Q: First-date dos and don’ts?

A: Do something that you enjoy. If you don’t like walking on the beach, then don’t ask someone to go walking on the beach. Be yourself. Do not talk about past relationships. Be current on issues. Watch 30 minutes of CNN or E! Entertainment. If you run out of material, it’s probably a good sign that it’s not going anywhere.

Q: What do you think of online dating and matchmaking services?

A: Oh, I’ve done them. They were for myself, but they turned into research. I don’t think they hurt. But you have to take a self-inventory of where you’re at and where you want to be. If you don’t have any of that, it doesn’t matter where you meet them.

Q: What was your experience?

A: With online dating, it was very rare to meet someone who represented their picture. It was like, “Oh, I took this a couple of years ago.” Was it a couple of years or a couple of decades?


Why truth telling helps

Here’s a portion of an article from the Irish press about the advantages of telling the truth:

Is honesty always the best policy?

By Brenda Woods

Tuesday July 29 2008

Little white lies, big fat fibs or down right dirty whoppers: Apparently, they are all ways of trying to make a good impression. But does lying ever really work?

Be honest—when your friend asks you: “Does my bum look big in this?” do you answer honestly? No? Ever lied about your age? Ever told the odd fib or even a huge whopper to impress your boyfriend, or your boss? According to the experts it seems us Irish are becoming experts in the art of Impression Management, whether we realise it or not.

That’s when we use a lie to embellish the truth about ourselves. Whether you have ever shaved the odd two years from your age for a new boyfriend, upped your grades on your CV for a potential boss, or claimed to be young, free and single while the partner was at home, it’s all IM.

But instead of winning friends and influencing people, we are in fact pushing away success and the chance of finding love, say the experts. The US professionals claim the way to go is to ‘fess up, spill the beans and reveal as much about yourself as you possibly can. That way, more people will listen to you, you will make friends for being honest, and ultimately you’ll be happy.

A recent US study by Gibbs, Ellison and Heino looked at the success of members of an internet dating service. They were expecting lots of fibs in an environment where most daters could have been tempted to make up a new identity online by retouching their photos and adding the odd untruth. But surprisingly, they found that the more people disclosed about themselves, the more dating success they had.

Those who won at online dating tended to use large amounts of positive self-disclosure, along with an openness about the type of person they were looking for.

The study found that generally it’s better to be open and honest about yourself. And it’s important to make your intentions clear.

They say people who disclose intimate secrets tend to be more liked than those who don’t.

But it seems some of us are still happy to do a bit of Impression Management. We still want to change the image we put out for other people.

It really adds up to the one thing: lying. However, the experts also say that it is the case that people want to avoid being hurt. We’d rather make up a lie, than reveal who we really are.

“The reason people lie in the first place is to avoid pain,” says Ellen Shilling, Dublin life coach. “It’s another way people don’t want to admit a truth to themselves.

“There are different levels of lie. Everybody does it, but people end up just lying to themselves rather than anybody else in particular.

“You have the lying about the age thing, but then there are the cheating lies and deceptions, where people can be caught up in a whole web of lies.”

Ellen claims most women feel forced to lie because of distorted female images in the media, and peer pressure.

They try to package themselves into the right saleable product.

“Society is telling people, in particular women, that they have to be a size 0, they have to get married, have a husband and the 2.4 children. If you don’t live up to that, some women feel that they have not achieved success and many will do anything to conform and fit in.”

How To Make A Good Impression

Be yourself.

Be secure about your own self-image.

Tell the truth.

Talk about yourself a lot.

State what you want.

Explain how you see yourself getting this.


Love is a gamble

You don’t have to be on a dating site to find true love on the Internet, but I do not recommend hanging out where these two folks met, on a gambling site!  Good financial habits speak well for a future mate, and dropping dough gambling is not a good reference.  But the story is amusing nonetheless…

Love At First Slot: Online Gambling Couple Married

July 28, 2008

Online gambling is not just a pastime anymore – “Swede” and “Cynthial” met on an online gambling forum just over a year ago and last week, their relationship hit the universal landmark of matrimony. Crossing international waters, love slowly blossomed and thus the happy couple have joined together as one.

“Swede”, hailing from Sweden (as you may have guessed), crossed paths with “Cynthial” of the US in June of 2007, and what began as innocent conversation soon intensified to daily emails, continuous instant messaging and intercontinental telephone conversations. Even with thousands of miles between them, destiny is not so easily thwarted. The two eventually met in London, choosing a neutral half-way point for a one-week getaway.

In that week’s time, the couple decided they were inseparably compatible, sharing the same interests, including their love for online gambling. Swede went about the process of closing down his antiques auctioneering business and made the monumental move to join Cynthial in the United States, where she runs a construction products business.

Arriving on US soil in April, Swede and Cynthial were married just last week. They have a new life plan now, intending to open a restaurant along Albuquerque, New Mexico’s famous Route 66.

On a personal note, I would like to wish Swede and Cynthial all the happiness the world has to offer. I myself met my husband online and we have been together for nearly 6 blissful years, with one gorgeous 2 year old daughter to show for it.

It just goes to show that while ‘online dating’ and ‘online gambling’ have both seen their fair share of scrutiny, wonderful things, well beyond our imagining at the time, can quickly blossom.


DocLove’s advice to men

I’m not a complete fan of AskMen.com, but let’s face it, it’s written for (young) guys, and maybe they’ll glean some wisdom between the sales pitches for “The System.” This following letter and answer is a good example.  I’ve underlined what I think are the gems, and particularly like the summing up:  “exchange e-mails, then ask for the home phone number and a 45-minute date at Starbucks.”

Doc Love on AskMen.com gives some great advice to guys on how to use Internet dating to meet women:

reader’s question
Hey Doc,

Thanks for your years of great service to men. I am an adherent of “The System,” which you so humorously and effectively speak of in your weekly column. Now I’ve become addicted to your radio show, too. What are the chances that you’ll become syndicated? I think that we can all do with a dose of your advice!

I’ve been thinking about starting to use Match.com to meet women. It seems that these days the bar and club scene is dead, and instead everybody is online getting dates. I don’t know if it’s an effective way of meeting women, but it seems to be worth a shot since that’s where the game is, right?

So here’s my question: Do you have any suggestions for what to say when contacting a woman on Match.com? In fact, can you give us guys a blueprint for how to do it? In other words, what do you say in your intro, the next paragraph and the next paragraph, and how do you wrap it up? I’m okay when I meet a woman face to face, but frankly, I’m not exactly sure how to deal with her when I can’t see her. It seems to put a guy at a disadvantage.

Here’s something else: The women’s screen names are usually not their real names. Is it a good idea to go after their real names right away, or should I let that come later when a beachhead has been established?

Also, are there any signs to look for when exchanging e-mail with Match.com women? Now that I think of it, the question I guess I’m really asking is how can you gauge a woman’s Interest Level across the computer? Don’t you really have to be in a female’s presence to accurately assess it?

I’m asking you this now before I actually take the plunge. Like you always say, it’s better to be completely prepared before going out on the battlefield.

Thanks, Doc. Looking forward to your response.

Jared - who feels awkward at the computer terminal

Hi Jared,

I really appreciate what you said about me, and thank you for being so supportive. But I want you to do me an enormous favor. It’s extremely important that you set “The System” by your bed and read it every night. And remember to do it for the rest of your life, even after 35 years of marriage. It’s the most airtight safeguard you can give yourself when it comes to dealing with women, and its principles are eternal.

But let’s get back to meeting her…

Here’s the truth about the bar and club scene: It’s not the greatest place to meet women. It’s too dark, there’s too much smoke, too much booze flowing, and that’s when people have a tendency to tell lies. If you go out to a club, you want to be there with your buddies, having fun talking about the good old days, boxing, business, and, of course, women. But if you happen to see somebody you dig in a bar or club, you have to ask her to dance. But don’t go there hoping to pick up Miss Right. The odds aren’t good.

Jared, online is where the dating game is these days, make no mistake about it, and in front of the terminal screen is where you have to be. Even my Uncle Jethro Love says “Boy, you’s dead in the water with the girls without your Macintosh!”. But before you log on, you have to be prepared and you have to have a very strict game plan.

And the aim of this plan is to get the girl through the door of Starbucks. There you are at home, pal, with just your laptop and no girlfriend, and your goal is to eventually say: “Caprice, very nice to meet you! Have a seat.”

When she arrives, you buy her a Mocha Valencia and you talk for 45 minutes. Afterwards, you walk her out to her car and she says, “Wow, Jared, I had a nice time! Please give me a call and we’ll get together again.” Then she hugs you, gets into her car and drives away. Guys, if we’re going to sell ourselves, we have to get the buyer in front of us for 45 minutes at Starbucks.

So here’s what you say when you’re at the keyboard. Since the ladies always ask what you’re looking for, you’re going to tell them, “I’m looking for a Self-Reliant, Flexible Giver who will laugh at my corny jokes. Let’s meet at Starbucks and see if I can make you giggle.” There’s your icebreaker.

You want a blueprint? A piece of cake. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “The point is to make ‘em laugh and tell ‘em nothin’.” If you get a positive response on Match.com—a wink—toss into your e-mail that you’re a busy guy and that you have tons of fun on the weekends. In your second paragraph, keep on keeping it light. Does she like to dance? Does she like to travel to Vegas or New York? What babe doesn’t like to dance or go places? Then ask her about Match.com to remind her that you don’t want to just be her e-mail “buddy.”

Jared, you’re afraid of the wrong things. The fact is that it’s a lot easier to deal with a woman when you can’t see her. You’re most definitely not at a disadvantage, because on the Internet you can check out up to 200 pictures within a half-hour. Then you pare it down to 45 or so, and out of that 45 you give the best ones a wink. You’re going to dance back and forth with a few e-mails, then you will go in for the home phone number.

And she’s going to say (hopefully), “Here it is,” or “I’ll give it to you when we meet.” Then you have to get her to show up for her coffee. Make sure you give her the Starbucks telephone number and detailed directions, and that the place has plenty of parking because a lot of these girls won’t show if they have the slightest excuse.

As far as her onscreen name goes, if she wants to call herself “Anita The Hun,” that’s her right. You’ll get her real name if she’s really interested.

So to sum it up, break the ice, exchange e-mails, then ask for the home phone number and a 45-minute date at Starbucks. Of course you can’t completely gauge a woman’s Interest Level over a computer, but to you Psych majors, the more detailed her responses are to your e-mails, the easier she makes it for you to contact her in person. And the more questions she asks you, you can bet her Interest Level is clinically alive.

Remember: Some women will meet a guy for coffee. When she walks in the door, you’ll witness her female presence in the flesh. Then you’ll sit down with her for a chat, and it’ll be easy to assess whether she likes you or thinks you’re the worst thing since Osama Bin Laden.

When it comes to being completely prepared before going onto the battlefield, like my cousin Brother Love down in Watts says, “Amen, Bro!”.

Remember, guys: If you don’t go packing, you can’t go off to war.


Are you being scammed by Russians?

RussianScamCheck.com that I wrote about in the last posting (August 31, 2008) has a neat questionnaire that will help you decided if you are being scammed.  The questions alone will help alert you to clues of potential scamming. 

Here are a couple of examples:

2. Did she ask you (or hinted) to send her money for one of the following:
* Apartment rent
* Visa or Tickets for trip to you
* Education
* Internet cafe expenses or/and telephone bills
* Illness in the family
* Anything else that asks for your financial support
5. Does her street address contain: “Lenin street”, “Lenina street” or “Sovetskaya street” ?

If you are communicating with a supposedly Russian woman and want to know if you might be being scammed, this free quiz is a “must do.”



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