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In the colder, wetter months of winter, the decision about where to meet for a first date can be challenging. Sure, there’s still the option of a coffee shop but somehow they seem to be overheated and packed with people in damp coats and carrying obtrusive umbrellas. So, thank goodness for the lighter, brighter days of spring [...] Related posts:
In the colder, wetter months of winter, the decision about where to meet for a first date can be challenging. Sure, there’s still the option of a coffee shop but somehow they seem to be overheated and packed with people in damp coats and carrying obtrusive umbrellas. So, thank goodness for the lighter, brighter days of spring when an outdoor date at a public park or botanical gardens becomes not just possible, but positively pleasurable. And what more inspirational sights, and sounds can there be for new lovers than the delicate buds of spring flowers bursting into life and the calls of nesting birds, after a dormant winter?
If you prefer your outdoors a little faster than a stroll in the park and you have a sporty partner to keep up, then spring also heralds the return of outdoor pursuits of various kinds. Football matches, mountain biking, and camping all become instantly healthier and happier in the sunshine. Getting out of the gym for some outdoor exercise with a loved one is the perfect cardio work-out for sporty types with a spring in their step, or a great opportunity to meet singles with some get up and go.
Don’t forget, the ultimate sporty date for UK singles in 2012 has got to be the London Olympics. So, if you haven’t already picked up a couple of tickets for you and a partner, organise this before spring and summer pass you by. It will be a memory to treasure together.
The arrival of spring is also good news for foodies who have not had a decent gastronomic workout since Christmas. The lighter days of spring bring with them seasonal changes and lighter flavours in food. So pack a basket for two and spread a rug in the warm spring sunshine to enjoy fresh asparagus fingers, spring onions, and a fantastic range of seasonal shellfish.
The UK boating calendar starts shortly after Valentine’s Day with the Boating, Caravan and Outdoor Show at the NEC in Birmingham, and continues throughout the summer. Happily the UK offers some of the most diverse and exciting boating opportunities in the UK, from luxury yachting off the Isle of Wight to sea kayaking off the Isles of Scotland. For something in between it’s back to Birmingham for a relaxing cruise on a narrow boat, either for the day or for a short break.
Birmingham dating sites are no doubt full of singles who have always wanted to try their hand at the helm of a narrow boat on the Worcester and Birmingham canal, so why don’t you team up for an outdoor date to remember?
I wanted to talk a little bit about this, first by looking at an email from a man wondering how he should handle this type of situation:
Last week I turned 63 and coincidently [...] Related posts:
I wanted to talk a little bit about this, first by looking at an email from a man wondering how he should handle this type of situation:
Last week I turned 63 and coincidently started a six month subscription to Match.com. As I’m sure you know, Match.com sends a number of profiles to subscribers each day, as suggestions of people to contact and date. However, what I’m finding is that most of these people specify in their profile that they are interested in meeting men who are younger than I am. Because of their age preference, I do not contact them. Would you say that I’m handling this situation correctly?
I struggled to answer this reader’s email. The reason why is I have two conflicting opinions on the topic:
If a man only considers himself, then the first option seems fine. If 1,000 men then take this approach…well, you can imagine what happens.
This issue isn’t limited to older men contacting younger women: there is a whole group of men out there who spam every woman they find attractive with emails like “I’d hit that”. I’m imagine some of these men think to themselves:
“I’m doing no harm. Of the 100 women I contacted I’m sure 99 will be annoyed but then I’ll find the one just for me!”
If we only consider our own situation, I suppose a thought like that might be reasonable. However, there are other people involved and I know plenty of women who have been frustrated to the point of quitting because there’s a set of men out there making things hard for everyone else.
Having some time to think about this, I think I’ve come up with advice I’m comfortable giving. The goal of my advice has two parts:
With that in mind, here’s my suggested approach: older men should be open to contacting out-of-range-women within reason.
For me, “within reason” is going to be five years. However, I don’t want to stop there because I would prefer to offer advice that forces the man to really consider the woman before contacting her. With that in mind, I think there should be a scale where the further the man gets away from her age requirement, the more strongly he should be able to make a case for contacting her. Here’s my idea:
The Scale of Contactability
|Age Diff.||Requirements to Contact|
|1 Yr||If you’re only one year out of her desired range, I think you should be willing to contact her as you would other women. At this point, simply being attracted to her is enough reason to contact her.|
|2 Yrs||At this point, you should have things in common. It shouldn’t just be about how attractive you find her – you should really believe you would have some things to talk about.|
|3 Yrs||It’s clear that the two of you could get along well. The amount that you have in common is significant and you have areas you’ve identified where you’d like to learn more about her.|
|4 Yrs||The amount you have in common with this woman is surprisingly high. If you don’t contact her, you know you’ll be thinking about it the rest of the night. If you sat down to write her an email, you’d already know the things you’d like to say to her|
|5 Yrs||She’s amazing. She has described everything you would hope to find and you simply cannot wait to contact her. If you don’t contact her, this is something you’ll regret for years to come. If you sat down to write her, the words would come without thought.|
So this scale is something I made up on the spot but I think something like this is going to be helpful. I’m certain this scale isn’t perfect and a man reading this may need to modify it for his own situation. The point isn’t that this table solves all the problems. The point is that guys need to take risks sometimes to find relationships but we shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice other people’s experience in the process.
At the same time, some women can be very rigid. A woman who rejects a guy because of one year difference isn’t doing herself any favors. The closer a man is to her desired range, the less I would require of him before contacting her.
My hope is that an approach like this will allow men to contact more women without frustrating those women. I’d be interested to see what others think on this topic.
Also, if you’re interested in my thoughts on age ranges in general with date, check out my article on Determining the Age Range for Dating. The math in the article ends up giving suggestions that I’m sure not everyone would be comfortable with but it’s at least worth consideration!
Marketdata Enterprises has updated their US Dating Industry Study, bringing it up to date for 2012. We’ve arranged for Online Dating Insider readers to be able to order the report for $1,325, a 30% discount on the $1,895 list price. The same discount applies to specific chapters, which vary in price. The entire study weighs in at 280 Pages. Great for dating entrepreneurs looking to start a dating site, especially when paired with some of my advisory services.
Of particular interest is the chapter on Matchmakers, which a lot of people researching matchmakers have purchased in the past. Spend a couple hundred bucks before shelling out $10,000, its a no-brainer.
Curious? Check out the full Table of Contents.
Contact me if you’re interested in buying the study. I have some other incredibly useful reports as well, great for the aspiring dating entrepreneur.
Sign up eHarmony to Try the Free Weekend
As I’ve mentioned before, I will post any free events I hear about here but you can also get notifications from eHarmony directly if you sign-up for [...] Related posts:
Sign up eHarmony to Try the Free Weekend
For a list of the free events I’ve discussed for this service, check out my article on free weekends at eHarmony.
All images from Someecards.
Today’s New York Times has an article about The Dubious Science of Online Dating. While I was reading it, Markus Frind, founder of Plentyoffish (recently rebranded as POF), sent me ELI J. FINKEL AND BENJAMIN R. KARNEY are wrong at least when it comes to POF. Markus was responding to a research report by Eli Finkel, Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Northwestern University, that says dating site matching systems are Doing It Wrong. Read the full report here (PDF). Markus feels that POF is doing things with matching that the dating industry doesn’t even think is possible. I can’t comment on that claim, but every single person on the planet should be glad he’s made it. Perhaps we are witnessing the point in time where the dating industry, with prodding from academics, the media, and singles, starts to realize how important matching systems really are. Not to mention how a great matching system can reduce customer acquisition costs and churn, and perhaps get some of those 70 million US singles not on dating sites to try online dating.
As Sam Yagan of OKCupid told me once (paraphrasing), a good matching algorithm isn’t only about making great matches, its also about hiding the people from you that you don’t want to see on the site.
The online dating industry has generally been focused on marketing for a decade. Now, the industry is being forced to acknowledge that the playing field has shifted to the matching algorithms used to put quality people in front of each other . Game on!
But first, lets take a step back and look at a decade of online matchmaking. For the early part of the decade the algorithms matching people were, how can I say this politely, less than useful. For the majority of sites, matching on anything more complicated than age/sex/location was a shot in the dark. EHarmony was the first site to bring psychology into the mix. EHarmony, which has from day one put its reputation on the line as the number one site for quality matches, was just starting to figure out what they had gotten themselves into with their 240-question signup process. (Sidebar: I wonder what the minimum number of questions will be to make a successful match, or will matches be based more on behavior, or something completely different?)
Along came OkCupid, which was quietly building a system based on ascertaining compatibility based on its social questions features (and I’m sure a lot of other proprietary magic pixie dust). Singles appreciated the nature of the questions, which were fun, and most importantly, social. No big long tests, results hidden away in some database. You answered a question, and could make that answer public. Exposing and leveraging people’s answers to questions about their personal beliefs in a way that no other dating site was doing at the time. Brilliant. OKCupid was the first site that made dating more social, just not in the way the latest crop of sites is doing it (friends matching friends via Facebook social graph).
Around this time, dating site started realizing that trying to match people together from a pool of 5 million people was a considerable challenge. If there are 5,000 singles in a major metropolitan area, how in the world were they going to show you the handful of people that might be a quality match? This wasn’t so much of a problem for smaller areas, because sooner or later you’re going to see everyone around you, and the thinking was “let the customer figure it out.” I don’t blame them, matching people on a dating site is an incredibly complex undertaking.
The online dating industry is still in the Paleolithic era. They are just starting to figure out how to take your profile, your test and question results and your behavior into consideration while building matching systems. Figuring out what kind of car to buy on Cars.com is straightforward, but us humans are messy bags of flesh, full of ego, bias and emotional detritus that makes the job of pairing us up with life partners (and to some extent one-night stands) seemingly impossible. Just ask any jaded online dater.
I’m not going to compare matching systems here, because there is absolutely no way to compare the effectiveness of dating sites. The methodology of measurement is flawed, the sample sizes are flawed and the folllow-up process isn’t stringent enough to warrant a serious discussion about whether or not say a POF or a Match or an eHarmony are “better” dating sites. Better for what? One-night stands? Long-term relationships? Casual dating? Dating sites may have this data internally, but until now they sure haven’t wanted you to know about it.
Markus has a chart in his blog post showing how many people are in successful relationships after meeting on POF. the caveat here is that the people left the site and never came back, which doesn’t take into consideration that the people might have gone to another dating site. See, messy.
Talking about big top-10 dating sites is one thing, but what about the white label dating services, which deploy, host, run and manage tens of thousands of dating sites? Nobody seems to ever question the matching algorithms on these sites. The focus has been on the speed and simplicity of getting a dating site up and running in a matter of days. Turn on the revenue spigot and go, go, go.
Same goes for niche sites. Match bought People Media and their suite of niche sites for $90 million dollars. Spark Networks falls into this category as well, although JDate is considered the grown jewel of the Spark empire. The idea behind these niche site networks was to build a dating platform and then roll out multiple sites by cloning the look and feel and tailor the graphics for each specific niche (mature, asian, Christian, Jewish, black, etc.). But nobody ever talks about how they match people up, everyone was so excited that there was a site for them, because they didn’t want to be lost in a sea of millions of generic singles.
Further, we have the “dating site in a box” vendors like SkaDate and Boonex (disclaimer: you’ll see their ads in the sidebar on this blog.) What is their matching system based on? Most dating site entrepreneurs didn’t worry to much about the matching system. It was all about getting up and running quickly on a site where they controlled how the site functioned, and more importantly, keeping all of the revenue. Remember, white label dating providers take anywhere from 25-70% of a sites’ revenue in return for managing the site.
Lets not forget Chemistry.com, Match’s answer to eHarmony. Dr. Helen Fisher and her group at Chemistry have worked for years on a matching system that purports to be more efficient and effective than other dating site. But do we really know if Chemistry matches people better than the competition? Chemistry, like all big dating sites, has spent tens of millions on marketing, because as I said, dating site superiority has been a marketing exercise for the better part of the decade.
I have a folder full of research pertaining to compatibility matching. I talk to Very Smart People all the time about psychology tests and deep math, none of which I claim to understand at more than a superficial level. What I do know is that dating site rankings based on traffic alone are useless, and its been a popularity contest until now. If you don’t have quality singles in my area code, it doesn’t matter how large you are. Maybe someday dating sites will use heat-maps to show the density of their users based on a specific location, but I’m not holding my breath.
In the last year or so, dating sites have started to announce the number of successful relationships started on sites, ranging from 3-months in duration to marriage. This is a Good Thing and a step in the right direction.
I wonder how long dating site marriages last compared to meeting someone through friends, a bar, church, etc.? This is a good start, but it still smells to my like a variation of How to Lie With Maps, who’s author wanted to “make readers aware that maps, like speeches and paintings, are authored collections of information and also are also subject to distortions arising from ignorance, greed, ideological blindness, or malice.”
Getting the online dating industry to move the battle towards effective matching is good news for all parties involved and I am excited to see how this all plays out. There are also many new dating startups trying out new matching systems which I hope will play an important role in forcing the dating industry to step up its game.
To see what POF has learned (love their transparency!), you should definitely go read Markus’ post, its a good one and sure to fire up a lot of people, dating industry insiders and singles alike.
I actually like infographics but the problem I run into [...] Related posts:
I actually like infographics but the problem I run into is they’re normally the same information over and over again…so I avoid posting them too often. However, it’s been a while since I posted statistics like these and I did find one infographic that I liked more than the others so I’m including that here. Hope you like it:
What a great week. New clients, the CNBC show Love At First Byte was a big hit last night and today we have a great interview with Catherine and Geoff Cook of MyYearbook.
In today’s episode with MyYearbook we talk about social discovery, the need for social networking to fill the space between the MySpace and Facebook, big mobile numbers and much more.
I ran into Geoff last summer at eAmore in NYC, where he impressed the audience with a great presentation about how big MyYearbook is and what a great fit it is in the social networking ecosystem. The next eAmore event is coming up, February 28th. If you’re in NYC, this is a must-attend event for the dating industry.