Date/Lines: A Modern-Day Look at Love

A deeper look into the evolution of dating, and how love is portrayed in the world today through various mediums

The Online Dating Phenomenon April 27, 2010

Laurie Davis received a phone call last spring from a friend saying he was moving in with his girlfriend, whom he had met with Davis’ help. Overjoyed and inspired, Davis, who was strapped for cash due to the collapse of the economy, saw this as the opportunity she had been looking for. That April she created eFlirt Expert, an online dating service that makes heavy use of social media.

“I’m really passionate about it,” she said. “Once I realized that I was doing this, I wanted to help more people. Love it, love my job.”

Davis refers to herself as an expert purely because of her experience both with online dating and professional experience in marketing. “I have been there and done that,” she said. Davis has been dating online for nine years, and over time has learned what works and what does not. Throughout this time, she has also seen how online dating has changed.

Davis offers her clients a variety of services in a menu format. “I wanted to make it fun to order up your online dating help, so we created a ‘menu,’” she said. On the “house wine” side, clients can find a la carte services like an “eMakeover,” which focuses on the online dating profile or smaller items like email response service or dating advice. On the “specialty cocktail” sides, clients are given a more complete experience by encompassing many different “house wines.”

The dating world has continued to evolve throughout the years. At one point, parents set up arranged marriages for their children, and now people meet random strangers online. Online dating is becoming a valuable source to people looking for romance. With time, this mode of finding love has become more socially acceptable. There are a variety of different dating sites out there, each with their own niche.

According to OnlineSchools.org, 52.4 percent of online dating users are male and 47.6 percent are female. The average age of someone on these dating sites in the United States is 48 years old. The online dating industry is a larger industry than the porn industry and worth $1.049 billion per year. The average user spends $239 a year on online dating sites. In February 2009, PC World looked at the matching algorithms and the business models behind some of the more popular dating sites. They found that with the paid dating sites the average user stayed for less than three months.

When Davis began eFlirt Expert, all she had was a Go Daddy template website, a Facebook Fan page, a Twitter handle and lots of guerrilla marketing. She created fliers and handed them out all around both Boston and New York. Davis made postcards to give out on the subway and networked.

Social media was a huge vehicle in her success, especially Twitter. “What I learned is people would follow me over time and watch me for awhile,” she said. “They would see what I had to say, what advice I had to give, see me evolve and then start using my services.” Two months in, she had interviews with the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, which is what all founders hope for. “Press is a fueling element, client-wise,” Davis said. “It has helped legitimize what I do and my business.”

One year later, Davis still says social media are key to finding new clients. An even larger majority of her clients come from Twitter now than they did a year ago. Word of mouth is also starting to spread. “Old clients are referring people, and people are looking at the press I’ve received and saying ‘Ok, I want you to help me or my friend,’” Davis said. She has a blog where she gives advice and discusses issues clients are having. She uses this blog in two ways: first, to respond to comments from Facebook or Twitter and, second, to direct her clients to resources.

When Davis began this business, she knew she had to do something to set herself apart from the other dating experts out there. She decided to tweet a daily dating tip, and also posts it on Facebook.

Davis' two brands- click on photograph to see more.

Located in both Boston and New York, she has a large number of clients she meets with in person on a regular basis. In other cities she also has clients, but helps them via phone and e-mail. She hopes to have eFlirters all around the country one day.

Davis is not the only eFlirter in the company. In December, Davis hired Jessica Hartman, a former eFlirt Expert intern. Davis refers to Hartman as her “Jill of all Trades,” because she helps Davis with everything from setting up meetings, helping her with her wardrobe, writing profiles, and meeting with clients. “This job isn’t boring, that’s for sure,” Hartman said. She met her boyfriend on Match.com, and has been giving dating advice to her friends since she was young. “We have experience doing this, we don’t claim to be doctors or therapists, just friends who can help you,” Hartman said. She believes the sky is the limit with eFlirt Expert, and has high expectations for the future.

Late last year Davis met Thomas Edwards, a dating and lifestyle strategist who works with both men and women on enhancing their dating and social lives. Davis and Edwards started an online dating show called “Love Nation,” which brings attention to emerging trends in the dating world. They discuss these trends, ranging from interracial marriage, college dropouts, and office romances. They then give advice to the people involved in the trends.

Edwards sees the two businesses growing together in the future, because they work so well together. “Her system at how she helps people get together is flawless,” he said. “I’m personally proud of what she’s done.”

Davis said she has had more than 150 clients since she began a year ago. Each comes in with different goals. Some want to get married and others just want to have fun and meet a lot of people. “I help ease your worries, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get discouraged,” she said. “Discouragement is a natural part of online dating and dating in general, and I think that’s important for people to know. Don’t get discouraged by discouragement, got to keep going.”

An anonymous blogger who blogs about dating in New York City and goes by the name SingleCityGuy is no longer single thanks to Davis.  “Not only would I recommend others to use Laurie, but I highly endorse Laurie/eFlirt Expert’s services,” he said. “There isn’t much to lose while working with her.”

“Without the economic downturn, I’m not sure I would have been inspired by this hidden talent of mine,” Davis said. “I certainly didn’t grow up thinking I’d be a dating coach.”

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Looks like physical characteristics DO have an impact on decisions April 23, 2010

Filed under: Relationships — jennyg113 @ 11:11 pm
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A new study has recently been released which suggests the traits people are looking for vary depending on the amount of people involved.

MSNBC reports on this study,

In larger groups, people are more likely to use physical characteristics, such as height and weight, to make their dating choice — features that don’t take much time to assess — the study researchers say. In contrast, people in smaller groups are more likely to pay attention to characteristics that require some “getting to know you” conversation, such as whether or not the potential partner went to college or is a smoker.

The study was done by Alison Lenton, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. “Since people can only take in so much information at a given time, it makes sense that they would focus on different mate characteristics in different situations,” She reports. “There are constraints on what our brains can do — they’re quite powerful, but they can’t pay attention to everything at once.”

It was already known that these were the results with tangible items, but they wanted to see if it was the case with people. “Scientists already know people’s brains can be overwhelmed by choice, say when shopping for electronics, detergent — even chocolate. Too many options can lead to much confusion, often followed by indecision or snap judgments,” a similiar article on NPR said.

The study took place throughout 84 speed dating events, and included 1,800 women and 1,800 men. Each speed dating event had a different number of participants. There were smaller groups with 15-23 people and larger ones with 24-31 people. Regardless of the size of the group people were interested in people who were younger, taller, average in weight and had a college degree. In larger groups though people picked their date based on physical qualities more so than in smaller groups.

The study suggested that people forget about the qualities they value, when put in certain environments. “And if the brain is faced with abundant choice, even about who to go out with, it may make decisions based on what it can evaluate most quickly,” a similiar article on sifynews said.

I am not surprised by this. It makes sense that certain environments impact people’s decision making skills. Dating can be overwhelming regardless of the environment, so when you add an extra 10 or so people to the mix, of course it is going to effect a decision. The fact that they did a study though, legitimizes the information that everyone already knew.

 

Victoria’s Secret vs. Lane Bryant

Filed under: Relationships — jennyg113 @ 3:49 pm
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Every morning before skimming the regular news sites, I take a look at some of my favorite PR news websites. When searching on PR Daily News I found an article about a Lane Bryant ad. While this article doesn’t completely have to do with dating and relationships it relates enough. I found this very interesting and wanted to share with all of you.

Lane Bryant claimed that both ABC and Fox had refused to air their new lingerie advertisement. According to the article, “LB has accused the networks of bias against large-size women—and the networks have denied such claims, accusing LB of trying to milk a non-story for publicity purposes.”

Lane Bryant took their anger to the blogosphere Tuesday. They said, “ABC refused to show the commercial during “Dancing with the Stars” without restricting our airtime to the final moments of the show. Fox demanded excessive re-edits and rebuffed it three times before relenting to air it during the final 10 minutes of “American Idol,” but only after we threatened to pull the ad buy.”

From the blog it is clear that Lane Bryant doesn’t understand why ABC and FOX show Victoria’s Secret and Playtex ads during the time slot, but has a problem with this Lane Bryant ad. Lane Bryant says,

We knew the ads were sexy, but they are not salacious.  Our new commercials represent the sensuality of the curvy woman who has more to show the world than the typical waif-like lingerie model.  What we didn’t know was that the networks, which regularly run Victoria’s Secret and Playtex advertising on the very shows from which we’re restricted, would object to a different view of beauty.  If Victoria’s Secret and Playtex can run ads at any time during the 9pm to 10pm hour, why is Lane Bryant restricted only to the final 10 minutes?

Fox says that they often ask for re-edits on the advertisements, and it was because Victoria’s Secret agreed with the requested changes that their ad was aired. Lane Bryant’s ad is supposed to be shown unedited in the last ten minutes of “American Idol” this coming week.

So, the question is, is there a difference between showing Victoria’s Secret commercials and Lane Bryant during these times slots? The answer is no, not at all. These networks need to either show both or neither. It is rude and discriminatory of these stations to force the Lane Bryant ad to the final minutes of the show, while these other products get ad time throughout the entire time.

There are two sides to this story, as there are to every story, so no one is entirely sure what exactly went on between these stations and Lane Bryant. At least the problem has been somewhat cleared up, and regardless Lane Bryant received some free advertising this week with all this chaos. Look for the ad to be aired next week!

 

Romantically Challenged April 21, 2010

Filed under: Relationships — jennyg113 @ 10:55 pm
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There are so many television shows on these days it is impossible to keep up with all of them. Monday night I was at home with my parents, and decided to check out a new show on ABC: “Romantically Challenged” (on at 9:30.) The plot focuses on four best friends and their dating lives, or lack there of.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the previews looked humorous so I thought I’d check it out.  Rebecca, played by Alyssa Milano, is recently divorced after being married for 15 years. Rebecca is a lawyer and mom and is pretty clueless about dating. There are three other main characters in the show. Rebecca’s little sister, Lisa (played by Kelly Stables,) is a Kindergarten teacher who is looking out for her older sister. Rebecca’s best friend since high school, Perry (played by Kyle Bornheimer,) is a hopeless romantic. His friend Shawn (played by Josh Lawson,) is the complete opposite who hasn’t had a relationship longer than three nights.

Prior to the pilot episode television critics were able to get a sneak peak at the show. The New York Times wrote a not so positive review about the show. Alessandra Stanley said, “The humor is secondhand and stale — one-liners about being gay and sleeping around — and made all the more painful by the waves of canned laughter that wash up and crash against all-too-familiar sets, like a bachelor pad, living room and coffeehouse.”

Hank Stuever from the Washington Post had a similiar message in his review, “Sadly, it’s just another unwise dalliance in sitcom land, where it seems we’re never not on a one-night stand.”

The main complaint from the reviews I read was that it has been done before, and been done better. With just hours before the show was supposed to launch, critics received a message from ABC saying the pilot has been pulled and will air another episode.

Mark Peikert from the New York Press wrote a review after the actual premiere and said, “There are a few funny moments in the first episode, but there’s nothing fresh, smart or interesting about a group of four friends who sit around a table at the same restaurant multiple times an episode, trading thudding quips and supporting one another. But try to tell that to the laugh track.”

I personally enjoyed the show. It wasn’t my favorite show in the world, but I thought it was cute and entertaining. My dad on the other hand did not feel the same way. I was a little confused by the plot and characters, but now I understand why. We were not given quite enough back story. My philososphy is that pilots rarely are anything incredible, I think that everyone needs to give this show a little time and then make a decision.

I’m exciting to keep watching, and see what dating fiascos these characters find themselves in.

 

Using our skills and interests to make money…too good to be true? April 14, 2010

Filed under: Class — jennyg113 @ 4:24 pm
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With the job market a tad shaky right now, people are learning to rely on hidden secrets they have. Dan Gregory, A Professor in the School of Technological Entrepreneur at Northeastern University came to speak to my journalism class today about entrepreneurship.  He is not your typical professor here at Northeastern. He doesn’t assign homework or textbooks to his clasess, rather he has a group of Master students working on spinning out companies in the year they have together.

Gregory is also the faculty advisor for an online campus group called IDEA. IDEA was founded a year ago by a group of students who all had an interest in starting business, but would get to a point where they didn’t know what to do next.  IDEA provides resources for students who have a venture idea, and opens a resource network both inside and outside the university.  They provide tailored services to students who are interested in starting up a business.

Throughout his presentation, Gregory continued to focus on the skills we as journalists bring to the table. The list the class came up with were: ability to write well, knowledge of  how to gather information, work well with deadlines, clear communication skills, learn and use technology and the ability to tell a story. (These are only a few of the many skills we as journalism students have to offer others. He was pushing us to think about how we could use these skills to work in a start-up.  Gregory was making it clear to people that there are journalism jobs outside from working at the New York Times or Washington Post.

So now the question I am faced with is how can I, Jennifer Gorden, turn this blog I have started into a business venture? There are a lot of answers to this question, some that I don’t see yet. It would take a great deal of time and dedication, but I could revamp my blog to make it more professional looking. I could set up regular interviews people that are of interest to people who would be reading my blog. I could try to set up a partnership with someone. I also would need to make a Facebook and Twitter page dedicated to my blog to draw more traffic. I would need to use the digital tools I know how to use and incorporate this into the blog. I would need to make videos, go to events and cover them, and do a lot more research on the dating world. Dating is an interesting topic to me and something I would love to dig deeper into, so as an optimist I say the possibilities are endless.

One thing Gregory did during his time here was make us think. We can do a lot, and it doesn’t need to be in the little bubble we have imagined. Despite the job market and the economy, the possibilities are endless. Our interests and skills can take us far. Stay tuned, in a few days I will have a profile on a lady who has done just that!

Photo (CC) by Dan Kennedy and republished here under a Creative Commons License. Some rights reserved.

 

Helpful tips for a first date April 12, 2010

Filed under: Relationships — jennyg113 @ 5:15 pm
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Do you have a date coming up and you’re getting all nervous and anxious.  YourTango, a digital media company dedicated to love and relationships, posted an article titled “7 Things You Must Do Before A First Date” and thought I would share it with all of you.

The seven tips Denise Ngo gives are:

  1. Drink plenty of water. it keeps you hydrated in case you sweat and it also keeps away bad breath.
  2. Eat something: even if you are going out for a meal a little healthy snack helps. This way you avoid low blood sugar or a grumbling stomach to distract you from the date.
  3. Make a pre-date playlist with fun music to listen to and distract you.
  4. Shower: This will not only make you clean, but will relax you. If you use a body wash you enjoy the smell of it will help you feel good about yourself.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes: no one wants to be walking around with a date who is hobbling around or complaining about her feet hurting.
  6. Do a quick background check: this will give you a little background on the fella before going out, and you may discover some skeletons before digging yourself too deep in the man.
  7. Have a positive attitude: Forget about your past relationships, or heartaches and go in with a smile and positive attitude about dating.

I hope the next time you are going on a first date you find this post helpful. Just remember, be yourself, be confident and smile!

 

The world of comments

Filed under: Class — jennyg113 @ 4:30 pm

With the shift in how people read their news from in a real newspaper to online, the way people discuss stories has too shifted. When people read an article online, there is a comment section, which allows readers to make notes and give their thoughts on the story. Some sites allow anonymous sources and others require the use of a real name and email. There is a lot of debate of what is the ‘right’ way to use comments, and what is the wrong way. People tend towards using their real name.

The Washington Post is working on re-vamping their comment section, and the one of the ideas out there is rewarding people who use their real name while commenting. An article in the New York Times titled, “News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments” discusses this further.  Newspapers like the Times, and the Post have worked towards regulating comments, forcing people to use their real name, not a fake or anonymous one. This article says that the The Huffington Post is going to start “ranking commenters based in part on how well other readers know and trust their writing.”

With a story like The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Judge Saffold posting comments under the name “lawmiss,” and then having her identity traced to by her email address, it makes you wonder. Was this an invasion of privacy or is this totally legal? She is now suing the paper for an invasion of privacy.  Some are arguing she doesn’t have a case, because the paper has it in their terms that everything is public, and they will give your email if need be, but some argue she does. Should she be forced to resign as a judge after all the comments she posted? Is there a conflict of interests?

The bigger question at hand is should people be allowed to post anonymously? It’s a tough question to answer. If you have that strong of an opinion then it just seems right that you would associate yourself with a name. I don’t see why people are afraid or embarrassed to be linked to their comments. When people comment they are usually very opinionated in one form or another, and if people feel this strongly then why hide. I think that sites should make it mandatory to use a real name when commenting. Yes, there are ways around that, and people will still not post by their real name, but more times then not people will post as themselves. This legitimizes the comment, and makes it seem more real. Will there be as many comments as there are today? That isn’t clear, but I would hope so.

Some say comments can just be deleted so does it really matter if they are posted anonymously. That makes sense, but who really has time to constantly be threading through comments to delete the negative ones. Depending on the size of the paper or blog, there might not be the resources to maintain this.

This is a hard topic, and there is no right or wrong answer. One thing is for sure, the way people comment will be drastically changing over the next few months. It should be interesting to see what’s in store.