Dating Sites and Apps: A Rodeo Roundup

blog pix online-dating

It’s early Sunday morning (really early – before sunrise) and I’m sipping coffee, reading my latest OkCupid email. What a lovely note from a cultured man but he lives 2,384 miles away in Vegas, is 4 inches shorter than me….and he’s 86 years old.

You have to give him credit for desiring intimacy and going for it. And perhaps I’ll take him up on his offer of a road trip to see the Southwest…but it would be a friends-only no benefits excursion.

Before I pack my bags for Vegas, it’s time for a rodeo roundup of recently tried dating sites and apps. There’s a chill in the air so let’s have some cioppino to warm our bellies.

I tried to come up with a theory about why I like or dislike various sites and apps. Thoughts swirled around and I had a vague notion of why some of them worked better than others. My theories jelled after reading Maureen O’Connor’s recent article on dating apps in New York Magazine’s The Cut column. As she wrote, “We choose our dating apps the same way we choose bars, parties, coffee shops, concerts, and everywhere else we go with the vague hope of finding a mate – based on the people.” According to O’Connor, “the make-or-break factor in whether you stick around to flirt, or clam up and leave, is the crowd.”

My successes and failures with various sites and apps are certainly crowd-based. I hated eHarmony because the eHarmony folks picked the wrong crowd for me: they were boring and unattractive, and they all lived hundreds or thousands of miles away. To top it off, the site gave no option to scroll through and select guys I wanted to communicate with. I could only view men preselected for me.

Ms. O’Connor’s article presents a quick summary of the populations she encountered on 15 dating apps. Different users will, of course, see different crowds based on their profiles and search preferences. I tried some of the same sites/apps but my “crowd” is composed of older guys in a different location. Interestingly, in some cases, I must be getting older DC-area versions of the younger guys Ms. O’Connor found in NY.

Here’s my rodeo round up of sites and apps I tried, including a “senior” dating site geared to baby boomers and a couple of niche dating sites.

My assessment of online dating venues is based on whether there are a good number of dateable guys who are attractive, educated, and interesting; whether the men reach out and contact matches rather than just viewing them; and whether the site has a lot of scammers and fake users.

Dating Sites and Apps Round-up:

Match: I continue to find “dateable guys” seeking relationships on Match and they have the largest subscriber base of all of the sites so this one’s a keeper even though I receive a greater volume of inquiries on some of the other sites.

OkCupid: This used to be my favorite site and I have had a couple of 90-day relationships from matches on this site. However, lately, the site seems to be overrun with scammers, fake users, and strange guys. I’m not giving up on Ok but it’s gone down a notch on my list.

Plenty of Fish: I like this site and have had a number of dates from fish in this sea. No winners yet but at least the guys are dateable and reach out.

eHarmony: see above. Grade: F 

JDate: My matches did not appeal and the guys did not seem to reach out as much as men on other sites.

OurTime: At first I loved OurTime, a site for those 50 and over. The users are active. They reach out frequently. However, too many of the guys are not appealing or educated and none of my conversations resulted in actual dates. I deleted it after a few months.

Ebony and Ivory: My foray into this niche dating site was a bust and I have stopped using this site. I was seeking ethnic variety but I was presented with mostly older, white dudes out of my geographic area. The “personal” emails I received were generic bits of profiles. The one time I wrote to Customer Service, I received a canned response to my complaint about geographic incompatibility.

How About We: Hardly anyone is on this site and no one appealed. The concept is clever: you suggest a date idea and an interested party can respond to that idea or suggest an alternate one. There’s also a nice feature that says you’re available to go out that night.   I never received a “match” for the “go out that night” feature. The only date I had was with a widower who acknowledged he was not ready to date. I’m no longer a member.

Bumble: As a child of the ‘60s and ‘70s, I was immediately intrigued by a “feminist” dating app. Created by one of the co-founders of Tinder, Bumble’s “shtick” is that only women are allowed to initiate contact with a guy. I like the idea of women being in control. I am proactive on traditional sites/apps, but prefer to have men make the first move on these platforms. On Bumble, I feel freer to be the pursuer.

I was worried at first that there wouldn’t be enough men my age on Bumble. And that appears to be the case. I haven’t received many matches and the only date I scheduled was with a younger man who cancelled at almost the last minute due to a work crisis. I’ll keep using this site but due to the small number of matches I’m getting, I feel like the likelihood of my finding someone is the equivalent of a needle hole in a haystack…or perhaps a tiny bee in a big hive. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Tinder: I have to give credit to Karen Yankosky of the Women of Uncertain Age podcast for inspiring me to try Tinder. Apparently Tinder is not just a hook-up App. Women and men can – and do — indicate they are seeking a relationship, not a one-night stand. So I bit the bullet a few days ago and quickly and easily created a profile.

Both Tinder and Bumble pull your public info from Facebook. Only your first name shows up on the App. If you feel nervous about exposing your Facebook info, you can follow my example. I pruned the public info on my profile. There is nothing in my Facebook profile that a stranger could use to identify or find me.

In addition to pulling information and photos from your Facebook profile, Tinder displays your location information and age. If you like someone, you can swipe right or select a heart. If you don’t like the guy, you swipe left or select the big X. If two people swipe right, they are both alerted by the app that they like each other and can start messaging. There seems to be an endless supply of men on the app (many of whom I recognize from other dating sites). I have my first Tinder coffee date set up for next week.

I love Tinder. It’s addictive. I especially like the fact that you only communicate with someone when you both like each other. Of course, this is my latest App download…and so I’m still in the crush phase.

To wrap up my rodeo, I leave you with two summary points. I think it IS a good idea to be on as many sites as you can handle. Some dating advisors suggest limiting your sites and apps to 2 or 3. I disagree. For one thing, if you have started dating someone from one of the sites, but you are not exclusive yet, you might want to browse on another site without your possible keeper guy knowing about it. Plus, with more sites, you’ll have more options. Maximize your possibilities!

If a site is not working out, stop using it but consider another trial period in 6 months. There may be some new users or app upgrades that change the experience.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Niche Dating Sites: Nutty or Nice?

silhouette woman on laptop for blog

It’s time to shake things up a bit. I’m too impatient to just wait for the “one” so I like to try new dating avenues – whether online or in the wild – whenever I can.

Most singles have heard of niche dating sites. There’s a site or a mobile app for every interest and predilection. From cannabis lovers to those who are gluten free to self described ugly schmucks, there are lots to choose from.

My mission, should I decide to complete it, is to try 5 niche dating sites and to report back to you the results of my test drive. Your mission is to comment on my posts, join a couple of sites yourself, and let me know how it goes.

Having recently briefly dated a black man, I decided to start with ebonyandivorydating.com. Let’s discuss while we have some inclusive black bean salad and skillet white cornbread.

I have some white friends who fantasize about dating black men – fully believing that there is truth in the sexual prowess stereotypes rampant in popular culture. Dating black men has not been on my fantasy list – any more than dating men of any other ethnicity. But I’m open to it and find that I can be attracted to men from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds.

As a young white girl growing up in the 50’s in DC, I recall my first crush on David, an 8-year old black boy. We were great friends and I loved to spend time with him. We often walked home from school together and played at each other’s houses.

One afternoon after school, Agnes, my black babysitter, picked me up at David’s house. As we walked back to my house, she stopped and shook her finger at me. “You can’t play with him anymore,” she said. “You have to be careful about black boys. They’re not nice,” she warned. “David IS nice,” I replied in shock.

I felt I had done something wrong and I don’t recall why I never mentioned the conversation to my parents. But Agnes must have controlled my play dates because after that warning David and I only saw each other occasionally.

It was much later in life that I realized Agnes’ reason for curtailing the childhood friendship of a white girl and a black boy. From her perspective, black boys in relationships with white girls were at risk of serious trouble. As a history refresher, interracial marriage wasn’t legal in the U.S. (aside from specific states) until 1967.

Fast-forward to 2015 and my profile submission to ebonyivorydating.com. As a new member, I won a free 30-day “gold” membership, giving me all of the major necessary functions such as email, flirting, etc. I found it easy to sign up, load my profile and main photo, and fill out the “about me” and “about my match” questionnaire.

Beef #1: The geographic preference section does not function well. The site advises you to hold the shift key down to select multiple locations but that doesn’t work. I was unable to select DC, MD, and Virginia. Finally I chose distance from my zip code as my geographic parameter.

Beef #2: The site sends me matches from all over the US. Not my choice.

The site’s “flirt” game is solely based on a guy’s photos. You are shown a member’s photo and asked, “Do You Want to Flirt With This Member?”

Beef #3: You have to leave the flirt page and search for the man’s user name in order to read his profile. If you like him, then you can go back to the flirt page and say you’d like to flirt. Cumbersome!

I’m not sure yet what kind of “flirt” I will receive if a guy wants to flirt with me.

It’s been less than 24 hours since I signed up so it’s too early to judge the success of this site. However, by comparison, I received many more inquiries when I first signed up on Plenty of Fish, Match, and OK Cupid.

Perhaps this is related to number of subscribers. I’m not sure how many guys are actually on ebonyandivorydating.com. The site claims to have millions of users. Time will tell.

So far it appears that the racial balance on ebonyivorydating is similar to other non-niche sites. When I created my profile, I selected matches in all races.

My plan is to keep the all races preference for now and then to retool it to see what happens. It’s an adventure!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Resources:

Articles about niche dating sites:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/niche-dating-sites/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/date-british-guys-farmers-only-growing-appeal-of-niche-dating-sites/

http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/13/technology/online-dating-that-actually-exists/

http://www.businessinsider.com/15-niche-dating-websites-2012-3