10 things dating sites don't want you to know (and how to get around them)

10 things dating sites don't want you to know (and how to get around them)

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Now that online dating has hit the mainstream, daters are beginning to see beyond the marketing hype and scare-lore. First there was the initial worry: is it safe? Does it really work? Then came the honeymoon period where everything was beautiful and so much better than “traditional” dating. At last, we’re now settling into our long-term adult relationship and seeing our new partner for what it is, pros and cons included. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it seems online dating has finally grown up.
Here is a list of common problems often left out of PR pieces and marketing blurb. Online dating may not be perfect, but the pitfalls are much easier to deal with when you know what they are and what to do about them.

1. Uninterrupted membership surprise

If you've ever signed up to a dating site, you'll know there's two stages of registration. The first stage is actually called a registration and is usually free. If the site is a paid site, you will then need to subscribe by paying money. Here's a hint: it's not called a subscription for nothing. Like magazine subscriptions, dating site subscriptions are designed to be ongoing. Unless otherwise stated on the site (such as in cases of lifetime membership) you will keep getting charged for your monthly (or other periods) subscription until you tell the company to stop charging you. This is usually stated in the terms and conditions, but I know for a fact a lot of people don't read those and then get a nasty surprise when their subscription renews itself.

What to do

Always read the terms and conditions when you sign up. They are a part of a binding contract you are signing. They may be lengthy and dull, by the hide within them all the things likely to upset you later on. If you do change your mind later and decide you want to cancel your subscription, make sure you know when your card is likely to be charged next, so you can cancel your subscription beforehand.

2. More men than women use dating sites

With very few exceptions, most dating sites are pretty skewed when it comes to the male/female ratio. I've seen companies advertise before about having “too many women” on the sites, but personally I think that's all spin. I only know of one site in the UK that has more women than men dating on it and that is a very small, exclusive site. On a good, large dating site the average ratio is usually 55% men to 45% women and often the percentage of women is even smaller.

What to do

If you are a woman – nothing, just keep sifting through all those men until you find the right one. If you are a man, you’ll need to work harder to attract women’s attention: none of that slapping on an old photo and presenting a one-liner profile to the masses. Put some actual effort into your profile and make yourself stand out. Women are discerning creatures, so just because there’s plenty of them to choose from, doesn’t mean you’re not in with a chance.

3. Sometimes people lie

I read an article about back that told about the “shocking” results of a research conducted recently that “revealed” that most people lie on online dating sites. Did that really come as a surprise to anyone who’s tried online dating? The only surprise was that this information was considered “shocking”. Yes, people sometimes lie. They lie about their height, weight, marital status and income. Obviously, that is a very foolish thing to do, as most lies become pretty apparent on the first date or shortly afterwards. Still, some people still choose to do this.

What to do

First of all, don’t be tempted to lie yourself. As I said, you’ll get found out and people won’t like you very much. As for spotting other people’s lies, that’s pretty hard to do until you meet them if the lies are to do with shape and build. There’s plenty of information available out there about how to spot a potential married/attached cheater and there’s even sites out there that threaten to sue anyone who pretends to be single when he/she isn’t. If you are that worried about the possibility of someone lying to you, this sort of thing could give you peace of mind.

4. Online dating is a commitment. It’s not easy.

More often than not, dating sites present online dating as an easy, straightforward activity. It is to an extent, in the sense that it’s easy to use and the process itself is quite simple. On the other hand, if you have any standards whatsoever, you’ll find that you will need to invest quite a lot of time and energy in searching for people, speaking to them and meeting them if you want to find anyone worthwhile. The bigger the dating site you’re on, the more time it’ll take you to sift through potentials and find the right people.

What to do

Go through the motions. If you’re serious about finding someone through online dating then this is the nature of the beast. Look at profiles, message and phone people and be willing to go on plenty of bad dates before you hit the right person. Online dating is a very pragmatic system, not entirely unlike searching for a new job. It stems from the very modern, Western attitude of taking control of your own life and doing what it takes to get what you want. If you want a slow, gentle approach to dating where you develop a friendship first and then let love happen then standard online dating is probably not for you.

5. Some people are at an obvious disadvantage online

This is something most industry professionals don't like to admit, but certain types of people are always going to have problems dating online. Short men, women who look younger than their age and want to date younger men, single parents and anyone else who is basically a better catch in real life than on paper: they're all going to get less online action. This is because online dating lets users search by inputting characteristics such as height, weight, age, etc. The sad fact is, that while some women wouldn’t search for guys under a certain height, for example, those same women would happily date someone who didn’t fit the criteria if they’d met him in person and were impressed by his charisma and charm.

What to do

Firstly, don’t lie (see above). Give it a go and see how you do. There are sites out there that cater to many specific tastes, so you may be able to find a site that’s specifically designed for those interested in meeting people just like you. While you’re doing that, develop all your finer qualities and maybe complement your online dating experience with real-life events like singles nights and speed dating events, where you may well meet people who’ll accept you for who you are.

6. Background checks are no guarantee of safety

This has been discussed at length recently, with the new regulations introduced in the US.
The fact of the matter is, if someone is a dangerous criminal intent on preying on unsuspecting daters, such a person would not find it difficult to fake an identity. Background checks are often very limited to say the least and it’s perfectly possible for unwholesome people to slip through the net.

What to do

There is no substitute for personal responsibility. Always follow the safety rules when meeting new people you met online. Any decent dating site will have those plastered somewhere obvious, so make sure you read them and act accordingly, even if it sounds silly and even if the site holds background checks.

7. Free sites sometimes sell details on

Site owners are not usually in it for the love, they want to make a living. If the site is free, it will make money by selling advertising. You want to make sure none of that advertising revenue is generated by selling your email address on to spammers.

What to do

Any decent site will have a privacy policy that will tell you exactly what to expect. Always make sure you read it and be careful what options you tick when you sign up.

8. Some sites are just not going to have the right people for you

Sad but true. Sometimes a site will just not have the right clientele for your tastes.
If you’ve been dating on the same site for a month or longer and have found no one who even remotely interests you, then you’re probably dating somewhere that is wrong for you

What to do

The more the market matures, the more it begins to niche out into smaller, more exclusive sites, aimed to cater for those who are more selective about their potential dates. Try a few sites before you decide which one is worth your money. Run a bunch of searches and see which sites come up with people you think may be interesting. If a site doesn’t deliver enough potentials within a few weeks – move on.

9. Many features are not really necessary

Remember the days when toilet paper was just toilet paper and nothing more? Nowadays we have quilted toilet paper, moisturising toilet paper, toilet paper with pictures on, etc. Are all these entirely necessary? Hardly, but the companies that make toilet paper need to stay competitive so they keep making up new things and making us think we need them. Dating sites are like toilet paper: beyond certain functionality, there’s only fluff. Some features are really quite useful (ice breakers, messaging, etc.) while others are just there to make the site appear cool and funky.

What to do

Don’t be blinded by sites that offer you lots of glitzy features; remember that your ultimate goal is to meet the right sort of people and be able to communicate with them easily and safely. If some great feature grabs your attention and appeals to you – great, but don’t be fooled into thinking that having more features instantly makes a site better.

10. Online dating isn’t for everyone

There, I’ve said it. Some people have tried online dating and didn’t like it. Sometimes it’s to do with the person in question not giving the medium a proper chance, or it could be done to an unfortunate bad experience, but other times it’s simply down to understanding how the medium works and deciding it’s unsuitable for your needs.

What to do

Only you can decide when you’ve given something a chance. Try not to give up too easily, before you’ve given online dating your full attention, invested in a good profile and have contacted enough people in a friendly, respectful manner. Try to go on a selection of dates before deciding to leave it all behind you. Even if you decide to end your online dating experience, do not give up on finding love. There are plenty of methods you can try and people keep coming up with new ones every day.

By Shimrit Elisar

About the Author:
Shimrit Elisar is a UK online dating expert with over 15 years experience of dating, socialising and working on the Internet. Her first book, an www.onlinedatingbook.co.uk Online Dating Guide is due out in May this year.

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