Kathryn's Blog: For Not-so-Serious Daters

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. 



Goodness, leave it to the French to strip away the layers and get right to the nitty-gritty.  We’ve known all along that Internet dating was about quick hook-ups and not about finding a mate, right?  NOT!  But I do think that the author has the slant wrong here: The French are more about seduction than romance, and they are much more frank about it.  As this article implies.

Flirting and fornicating
Agnes Poirier

“Forty-one encounters, 39 penetrations,” stated an elegant Parisian art dealer when asked by a journalist from Marie Claire about his gallivanting on Meetic, the first European dating website. This French company has, in only six years, spread its cupid wings to 17 countries, including China and Brazil; made online dating available in 12 different languages; boasted 22-million users; and is now No 2 in the world just behind the United States’s match.com. Last January it bought DatingDirect, Britain’s No 1 dating website, and on Valentine’s Day announced a rise in profits of 70%, to £18-million.

In France alone, five million people spend precious hours chatting every day, flirting, meeting and fornicating with perfect strangers. It has become such a social phenomenon that teams of screenwriters are competing to get the first film done on the subject. Meetic has become an egalitarian hub, visited by as many women as men. Surveys and statistics have proved that Meetic is the most “efficient” of all online dating websites. Many of the users I know would agree.

“Meetic is the best. And it’s a super ego-booster. Every evening I’m on it, I have at least 30 men wanting to chat with me and meet me,” says a French senior civil servant, a single woman in her early 30s. Before contacting her, the 30 men have clicked on the “flash” icon to let her know that they find her especially attractive. Before condescending to reply, she double-checks their profile: age, picture, education, income and marital status.

She chooses them like a discerning consumer, and only replies to married men. “For the moment, I am looking for fun, not love. I do a first pre-selection, and send a standard reply to the unlucky ones out of courtesy. As for the selected few, according to their wit and their language skills ... I draw a shortlist of perhaps three and agree to meet them. If I like them, we usually go straight from the cafe to my flat.”

It’s a simple issue of supply and demand: pre-select candidates, test sales pitch, draw a shortlist, have a face-to-face interview, hire on the spot, dismiss without notice, voila—a case of ultra-liberalism meets romance. And low-cost sex.

But perhaps the most unsettling thing about the whole affair is that Meetic is operating from France, supposedly the country of romance and gallantry. French films of the past century have all conveyed a grand idea of l’amour a la francaise: the penetrating gaze, the blushing, the first words, the long walks, impassioned silences, a steady crescendo of desire fuelled by months of courtship.

“I have no more time to waste trying to charm girls in cafes ... the process is too long and too arduous,” says a 25-year-old Parisian man. “With Meetic ... I often score on the first date. Not long ago, when I was a teenager, girls kept me salivating for weeks. Forget it.”

Instant success, instant reward; flirt as you go, pay later, at the shrink’s. An older man sounds less enthusiastic. “When I was looking for a girlfriend, I used Meetic and had a few affairs,” he says. “One in particular was great, I was falling in love. Then one evening, she said: ‘Let’s be friends, you’re not rich enough for me.’ This was such a shock; I felt like a commodity, I had to start therapy.”

The irony is that Meetic’s founder, Marc Simoncini, insists that the site’s success lies in its being distinctively “European and Latin”. “People can meet freely on Meetic, they can talk to each other directly across Europe.” Unlike Match.com, which does the matching for you. Americans would be horrified at the idea of married people dating freely, but making adultery and sex as easy as buying a croissant shouldn’t necessarily be France’s only gift to online dating.

Will the last romantic to leave France please turn out the lights?


When is a date not a date?

Is Starbucks for coffee a date or a pre-date?  Does the guy have to pay?  From the following article, it seems like the man’s intentions are what makes a date a date: Whether he signals seriousness by the invitation, by intending to and paying, or by keeping intents purposely vague.  Do women have anything to say about it at all?  Other than yes or no?

First date dilemma
By Mark de la Viña
Mercury News

Gone are the days when a man and a woman meeting over a drink knew the outing was undoubtedly a first date. With lines blurring between the platonic and the romantic, defining what constitutes a first date has become a guessing game, as maddening as catching a gnat with chopsticks.

The various intentions behind a first date, from finding a mate to bedding a casual-sex partner, has forced many singles to define exactly what it is.

The way people in their 20s often socialize - by forming social cliques that can lead to a couple pairing off - makes what constitutes a first date even more unclear, says Tiffany Dang, 23, a student studying finance at San Jose State University.

“Now, it’s just so common that a guy and a girl will hang out without calling it a date,” she says. “But it is.”

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love” (Henry Holt, 2004), says that nearly every social engagement between men and women, whether it is called a date or is painted as a romance-free outing, becomes a date as soon as “they start looking you over.” Men and women are biologically wired to behave toward one another in specific ways.

“I was introduced to somebody at a dinner party, and we barely spoke to each other,” says Fisher, a Rutgers University professor who lives in New York City. “But then he said, `I’m going to the Eastside. Would you like a ride in the
cab?’ Already, a date has begun.”

Something as innocent as sharing a cab can be viewed as more significant than carpooling because the human animal is built to flirt, Fisher says. “Even old friends who are men and women often have some sort of subterranean flirting. We might never make a move, but there is subterranean flirting going on.”

Dating coach Evan Marc Katz, co-author of “Why You’re Still Single” (Plume, 2006), attributes part of the confusion to men and women not expressing their intentions. He says dating should be a simple matter: a social meeting between a man and woman, paid for by the man. If this evening goes well, there is an understanding that it can lead to a second date and is possibly a prelude to a long-term relationship, he says.

Marie, 36, a saleswoman in Santa Cruz who asked that her last name not be used, recently endured such dating confusion when a man invited her to go ocean kayaking.

“The context of the conversation was friendly,” she says. “It wasn’t `Are you dating anybody?’ We get out there on the water, and the next thing I know, he busts out this giant picnic lunch with a bottle of wine.”

Marie, who suddenly realized the plotting paddler had more in mind, told the suitor she was not romantically interested.

Men with amorous intentions have repeatedly approached her by suggesting they “hang out,” Marie says. They rely on vague language so that if she is unresponsive to their advances, they can save face by claiming their intentions weren’t romantic, she says.

“You shouldn’t put yourself in an ambiguous position,” Katz says. “If people are getting stuck, it’s because they have not considered whether this can be read any differently. `Me, you, dinner, alone, Saturday night’ can’t be read any other way. `Me, you, happy hour, friends after work’ can be read a million ways and is probably not a date.”

A slew of ingredients have been tossed into today’s dating stew pot, complicating what for previous generations was a clear-cut proposal, says Dan Baritchi, who with “life partner” Jennifer Hunt operates the Dallas-based dating and relationship advice column http://www.AskDanAndJennifer.com. The couple’s site, which spawned their self-published tips book “Online Dating,” attracted about 100,000 page loads in May, according to StatCounter.com.

Baritchi says people are attempting to maintain some level of courting formality in an atmosphere in which men and women are increasingly disconnected from each other. Hunt adds that the mingling of different cultural traditions, the acceptance of platonic relationships and the redefining of romantic unions have made it even murkier.

“We think that society and the nature of relationships are evolving and changing,” she says. “Up to this point, relationships and marriage and all of these constructs have been driven mostly by religion. With all the diversity and globalization, everybody is saying, `Wait, this is not the only way it has to be.’ They have more choices, and they’re expanding their viewpoints.”

What was once a general rule - that a date was that first baby step toward finding a husband or wife - no longer applies to the way men and women socialize today, Baritchi and Hunt say. In fact, they aren’t fans of even calling a date a date.

By putting a label on the social outing, pressure is unnecessarily turned up, they say. Suddenly, both parties have to prematurely weigh whether they want to have a romantic relationship before they know one another. Singles end up spending more time focused on reaching some imagined first date or the second date marker rather than thinking about whether the relationship is worth cultivating, they say.

Mike Murdoch, 39, a single engineer who lives in San Jose, says that all that anxiety over defining a first date is not new. Nor is the way he met his current girlfriend; she asked him out for drinks eight months ago. He attributes some of the uneasiness about dating to the cultural upheaval of the sexual revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s: that it made men and women change their expectations about how they wanted to live - and date.

“But it probably always was confusing,” he says. “Go read the Bronte sisters’ books. They’re all about people being screwed up and baffled and trying to be with somebody. I think romance has always been complicated.”


Praying to St Raphael Better than Christian Dating Sites?

Can’t hurt, right?

“Valentines told to look to archangel for love”

By Natalie Paris and agencies
Last Updated: 7:05pm GMT 13/02/2007

Lonely hearts are being advised by the Catholic Church to consult an archangel to help them find love.

The church is encouraging single people to look to heaven to find their soulmate in the run up to Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

The Catholic Enquiry Office (CEO) is suggesting that, rather than enduring rounds of speed dating to find a partner, people could pray to Saint Raphael, the patron saint of “happy meetings”.

The saint, one of seven archangels, appears in the Book of Tobit, in the Old Testament part of the Catholic Bible.

The CEO claims that Saint Raphael, who comes to the aid of a woman called Sarah in the bible and sets her up with her spouse Tobias, has been a spiritual friend to generations of singles.

“Many people have testified to the help they have received in finding a life partner through the prayerful help of the archangel,” said Monsignor Keith Barltrop, CEO director.

“At this time of year, significant numbers are seeking someone special, or maybe dealing with recent heartbreak. Saint Raphael is there to help.”

He added: “If something is for our good and happiness, then God will answer our prayers as we ask.”

Although certain that every prayer would be answered, Monsignor Barltrop admitted that the results might not always be what is expected.

“You might be praying for a tall, dark and handsome person to come into your life, or a beautiful brunette, but God may have prepared someone quite different but wonderful for you,” he explained.

“Prayerfully ask him, and find out for yourself.”

Here’s more info about St. Raphael.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


OnlineBootyCall does it again

Somebody over at OnlineBootyCall has such a sense of humor.  We here at Find-a-Sweetheart are very grateful for laughs, and OnlineBootyCall has provided a few: See my earlier blog entries August 11, 2006 and October 13, 2006.  We are also glad that sites like OnlineBootyCall exisit to siphon off online folks who are looking for “just sex” and therefore leave “serious daters” to the sites like Match.com and Yahoo! Personals.

Here’s what the guys at OnlineBootyCall have come up with most recently:

Onlinebootycall.com Presents: Moses’ 10 Commandments of Dating

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/—Some online dating services promise
a meaningful relationship within 6 months or “your money back.” Others may
suggest a higher statistical probability of marriage. Moses Brown, founder
of onlinebootycall.com and one of its more than 1 million members
nationwide, believes in a slightly different reality for his members. “In
my opinion, all online dating encounters should be considered ‘casual’
until proven otherwise. So I offer onlinebootycall.com members this
relaxing, easy-to-follow guidance.”
Moses’ Booty Call Commandments

I.  Thou shalt get out before the sun rises

II.  Thou shouldest never ask “can we see each other from now on?”

III.  Thou shalt refrain from referring to our activities as “love

IV.  Thou shalt not request advanced plans.

V.  Thou shalt kiss anywhere except my mouth.

VI.  Thou shalt scream my name often

VII.  If someone cometh over whilst thou art here, thou art my cousin
from out of town.

VIII.  Thou shalt not ask me to walk thee to thy car.  Don’t thou knoweth
what that looketh like?

IX.  There shall be no “pillow talk.”

X.  There shall be no cuddling—ever!

“Amen,” said Moses.


Want to Win a Range Rover?

In my continuing campaign to get those folks who are interested in “just sex” off the mainline dating sites, onlinebootycall (I’ve written about them before) is having a contest and giving away a 2006 Range Rover as first prize.  This is what you have to do to win:

Members with the most referrals who sign-up from September 1 through November 30, will win; there will be three winners. First prize will drive away with the 2006 Supercharged Range Rover; second prize will bring home $5,000.00 in cash; and third will revel in $2500.00.

I could use a new vehicle, but I’m not even going to try on this one.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Where To Go Online For “Just Sex”

Interested in just sex rather than a real relationship?  Skip the big sites like Match.com and Yahoo! Personals and go right to the booty:  AdultFriendFinder is the most flagrant, largest, and just plain dirty match up service that I know about.  And OnlineBootyCall is coming up fast (excuse the sexy reference). 

One of the funniest articles I have seen in a long time popped out this week on The Inquirer.  In the piece, Moses Brown, OnlineBootyCall’s CEO, announces that the site has produced only one marriage out of its million members.  “If we were less superficial, we would probably have more marriages and we certainly don’t want that,” Brown said.  OnlineBootyCall is not quite as dirty as AdultFriendFinder, where members regularly post photos of themselves and multiple others having sex, as well as pic after pic of sexual parts, but BootyCall’s photos make clear what is being offered. 

Is anyone still reading this, or have you all clicked over to AdultFriendFinder and OnlineBootyCall to look around?

While I virtually never suggest such sites to my clients (who are virtually always looking for long term relationships), these sites provide a real service that I wish more people knew about.  One of the biggest complaints and fears is married men (to a far less of an extent, married women) posing as single on sites like Match and Yahoo!  OnlineBootyCall is where those folks need to go.  Or AdultFriendFinder.  Leave the cleaner sites for people with cleaner motives.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Friends with benefits? Yikes!

I’ve read articles about dating and the social lives of Washingtonian’s by Seattle Times reporter Diane Mapes before. She’s good. But you’ve got to take a look at what came out on December 20th: “Friends with benefits. Buddies. Booty calls. Is this what dating has become?” Oooeee! If you are over 40 (and maybe if you aren’t), this article about what dating is becoming (at least some dating) will curl your hair. You will be amazed by the story she opens with.

But this stuff is good to know about, because there’s always a chance that your date will have exactly this in mind. Essentially, what we’re talking about here (not to be coy) is meeting for sex purposes only, the old-fashioned one night stand, or the new-fashioned “friends with benefits.”

Mapes quotes PerfectMatch’s Pepper Schwartz: “If someone has no intention of looking for someone special in their life and just wants sex for fun and pleasure, isn’t it better that they tell you right up front?” For SURE! In fact, let’s get them really separated out and onto their own sites. Places that already exist like AdultFriendFinder.

The clearer we all can be about what we really want, the more likely it will be that we get it. If you are married and looking to fool around, there are sites just for you (like AshleyMadison.com and Philanderers.com. I’ve written about them on my blog. Don’t lurk around on Match.com and spoil the fun for people who are seriously looking for someone serious.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Internet Dating Sites Increasingly Specialize

When I was single and looking for a mate online, way back in 1998, the sites had not evolved like they have now. Match.com designed the site to appeal to women, figuring the men would come if the women were there, and they were right. But back then, site administrators did not police the sites as rigorously as they do now, and I stumbled occasionally on real crud. Like the guy who’s picture showed him nude on a bed with just a pillow over vital parts. He was no male model and it was not a pretty picture.

More and more, dating sites are popping up that cater to guys like that one, gals, and more. Read this interesting quote from Andrew Conru, the founder of FriendFinder.com:

“When we started FriendFinder early in 1996, we found a lot of guys were posting profiles that were more risque than we wanted on the site. We started out deleting them, but then we recognized the opportunity and started AdultFriendFinder.”

Now AdultFriendFinder far out draws its parent FriendFinder. This blatantly sexy site is a gold mine.

Thank goodness. If you want whips and chains, you are much more likely to find a willing partner on a site that specializes in such. Leave the mainline sites to mainstream folks. Keep ‘em clean.

BTW, if you are looking for some kind of site that caters to the “naughty niches,” a good way to find them is to do a good old Google search, using your interest, “whips and chains” for example, and “dating sites” for your search.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


PrivateDateFinder Protects Cheaters

Mark Brooks runs a great bog and site focused on what’s happening in the Internet dating industry—OnlinePersonalsWatch.com. I commented on one of his blog entries the other day about PrivateDateFinder, a newly launched service designed to protect the identities of married cheaters who are cruising online dating sites. His posting stirred up quite a bit of controversy, which bears a read. Here’s what I wrote:

A big concern of mine (and my Romance Clients) is the surreptitious presence of married folks on mainline dating sites.

Before my metamorphosis into a CyberRomance Coach, I was a mental health professional with almost 30 years’ practice and a specialty in working with couples where there had been an affair. I am all too familiar with the destruction affairs wrought on all concerned. As the participants soon find, extramarital affairs are not the highly romantic, glamorous escapes portrayed in books and movies. They quickly become tawdry, agonizing messes from which no one emerges unscathed.

I’ve written often about “dating" sites for married folks on my own blog. I too am conflicted about anything that encourages such destructive behavior. But the positive I see is to get those who are married (and for some reason want to lie and cheat) off the sites where singles have enough to worry about and onto their “own” sites where they can pair up with each other and save the rest of singles from their actions.

If what the previous comments say are true, and that after registering with PrivateDateFinder, the married/wanting to cheat folks are then turned loose on regular dating sites… eeeeuw!What a nasty trick: The only one protected is the cheater. PrivateDateFinder makes it easier for the cheater to deceive his/her spouse, and then turns the cad loose on unsuspecting singles. Now if the cheaters were to be identified with some sort of a label ... Maybe a scarlet A next to their photo ... Wouldn’t that feel a little more fair?

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Resources Just for Married Folks Fooling Around

According to an article in ABC news by Buck Wolf, Jupiter Research reports that 12% of people registering with online dating sites are married.  That’s a much lower percentage than I had heard rumored, so I am actually relieved.

Married folks thinking about trying online dating: Please do us all a favor and seek out the sites that are now springing up to cater to your needs: AshleyMadison.com’s slogan is “When Monogamy Meets Monotony.” And Philanderers.com will teach you how to hide what you are doing from your spouse.

Singles: It might pay for you to educate yourself on how such philanderers might hide what they are doing from YOU.  Take a look at Philanderers.com’s collection of articles and see some of the techniques they suggest for keeping everyone in the figurative dark.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord



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