The Cyber Dating Game
The first response came in via email the next day. It featured an attractive woman from Pasadena. It was accompanied by photos and brief profiles of 23 more Los Angeles area ladies in their 60s or 70s. Can you beat that?
It was a spur of the moment thing. It didn’t happen by accident. This super-senior is fascinated by the amazing social media dating phenomenon that’s sweeping America and the rest of the world. So why not check it out? Over the next few weeks we received another 400 or 500 more recommended lady friend candidates, all in response to our “experiment,” the posting of a ten-year-old Geoff Nate photo and brief personal profile on the Match.com and eHarmony dating sites.
The ladies ages ranged from 65 to 75. They all live in Southern California. Included was each woman’s photo, her dating “handle,” community of residence and several other items such as career specialty, astrological sign, children, grandchildren, etc.
Sounds interesting? Have we piqued your curiosity? They both offer free trials. What works for men works for women. Subscriptions range from $20 to $60 a month, depending on duration. Longer is cheaper. A six month subscription on Match.com runs about $150. They also take credit cards. Sign up and you can access anyone in their catalog.
So what’s your next step? Geography will help narrow the playing field. If you find someone who looks interesting, wisdom says to save time and energy you may want to check Facebook. Why play Russian roulette? Facebook does a lot of preliminary work for you. Go ahead, bite the apple. From that point you are on your own.
If these dating sites don’t do the job, don’t sweat it. There are 2,500 more here in the U.S. with a 40 million cyber date inventory.
History of Matchmaking Services
Actually, computer dating has been a reality for years and matchmaking since the beginning of time. Love was and still is simply the “luck of the draw.” Literature is full of pairings since Adam and Eve, however they don’t always work out. Romeo and Juliet was a match that nobody else wanted. Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester and Scarlett and Rhett were all busts.
Families were and still are very much involved in the selection and approval process, especially in Middle Eastern societies. In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye hired Yenta, a ‘Shadechan’ (matchmaker) to arrange a ‘Shidduch’ (an introduction) for his daughter Tzeitel. The matchmaker found Lazar Wolf, a rich butcher, but love won out; Tzeitel chose Motel, a poor tailor.
Lonely Hearts advertising has been around since Gutenberg invented the printing press. In the 1800s matchmaking ads appeared in such magazines as “Wedding Bells” (US), “Matrimonial Herald” and “Marriage Gazette” (UK). In 1841 the “Journal of Munich” carried an ad placed by a 70-year-old “gentleman of the nobility” seeking “a woman between 16 and 20 having good teeth and small feet.”
Romance magazines such as “True Confessions,” “Modern Romance,” and “Secrets” have been newsstand favorites since Geoff Nate was a boy. Dorothy Dix offered “Advice to the Lovelorn” back in the 1890s and newspaper columns such as “Dear Abby” and “Ann Landers” were and still are popular today.
The two women were highly competitive twin sisters whose columns were carried by competing newspaper chains. Both offered several paragraphs of wisdom for men as well as women dealing with challenging personal relationships.
Confused and complicated personals still seem to have consistent reader appeal. A want ad mentioned in the recent June 2017 issue of the New York Times read “A Husband for Home a Wife for Away.” Obviously the couple had reached an understanding. Nothin’ new; open marriages have been around for years.
So how in the world did Geoff Nate meet girls back in Minneapolis in the nineteen-forties and fifties? There were no dating services. Our matchmakers were aunts and uncles. They were our Yentas. Guys met girls at chaperoned events called “mixers”. As we got older we depended on personal initiative and of course peer referral.
As life guards on the Minneapolis beaches my brother, Butz and I had no problem meeting coeds. When the lakes froze over we hockey players cozied up with nice girls in warming huts. So-called ‘one night stands’ were few. Sure there were ‘fast girls,’ but they had rules… never on the first date.
Absence Made the Heart Wander
Geoff Nate had a stewardess sweetheart back in the 1950s until the Korean War intervened (see Air Force blog #4). Unfortunately, absence did not make his girlfriend’s “heart grow fonder.” He wasn’t the first G.I. to receive a “Dear John.” Obviously it was a challenge to keep those “home fires burning.”
Like so many sons of Jewish mothers, one of Myndal Nathanson’s connections engineered a “greet and meet” with a beautiful UCLA grad. Nothing happened overnight, but as per Geoff Nate’s Blog 8 “Nice Jewish Girl,” mom got lucky.
Over the years the marriage game has taken it on the chin. Once a ‘shanda’ (Yiddish for shame) divorce has become socially acceptable. In 1900, less than 7% of U.S. marriages ended in legal dissolution. Today the split rate is over 50%. Someday they will figure out a way to mix a girl and a guy’s DNA in a test tube to predict a couple’s chance of marital success.
“Millionaire Matchmaker,” a TV show on Bravo today involves millionaires (male or female) and a cattle call of candidates. “Gays welcome… no guarantees.” Engagements are high, but successful marriages few. One millionaire has been back on the show three times.
Univac, followed by the IBM punch card system in the 1960s, were the forerunners of computer generated dating. Men and women were paired off by machine punch cards based on their potential compatibility. The first so-called commercial dating service was started by a group of Harvard undergrads in the 1960s using a mainframe computer with spinning tapes. They called it “Operation Match.” They plugged in answers to provocative questions and the computer paired up likely candidates. Cost per match was three dollars.
Enter the Personal Computer
The idea evolved in the mid-1980s. A company called Match introduced something they referred to as a “dial-up bulletin board” utilizing traditional telephone networks. However, computer matchmaking really took off in the late 1990s thanks to “You’ve Got Mail,” the classic Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie in which the couple met in an AOL Instant Messenger chat room.
Match.com was launched in 1995. It was followed by eHarmony in 2000. They were the first popular personal computer assisted dating sites. The onus of the blind date had been somewhat tempered. Match and eHarmony expected their players to fill out detailed questionnaires.
Match today operates as a conglomerate of dating platforms under the publicly held “Match Group” which includes OurTime, PlentyofFish, OkCupid, Tinder, BlackPeopleMeet, SeniorPeopleMeet, DateHookup (the list goes on…) It claims to serve over 45 million members with a market valuation of $800,000,000. That’s “BIG BUSINESS.”
Success Breeds Competition
JDate, one of the first so-called “niche dating sites,” has been around for over 20 years. Its sister site ChristianMingle followed. Geoff Nate has a cousin who met her husband on JDate. Originally designed to pair Jewish singles, JDate today is open to all comers including men and women of all faiths, many in search of “sugar mommas or daddies.” The site also matches guys with guys and gals with gals. Like Levy’s Rye Bread, “You don’t have to be Jewish to like JDate.”
Today JDate is a service of Spark Networks, a public company which also owns Christian Mingle, JSwipe, LDS Singles, Faith.com and Adventist Singles Connection.
There is also plenty of action out there for the “grey eagles.” SeniorsMeet, SeniorPeopleMeet, and OurTime are connected. Sign up for any of these, and you’re signed up for the others. As one would expect, some of those special dating apps for the over 50 crowd attract folks seeking security as well as fun. Two, SugarDaddyMeet and SeekingArrangement, are specifically designed to pair young women with rich seniors.
On the other hand not all so-called ‘popular’ online dating sites manage to live up to their promises. According to the rating service, “Sitejabber” some SeniorPeopleMeet players complained that the site dumped a lot of phony candidates into their pool of match options. Then again, why not give it a try Gramps? You can’t take it with you.
Other so-called targeted computer dating services were released after the turn of the century. Farmers Only, whose motto is “City Folks Just Don’t Get It,” became popular in 2005. They have a short but clever video. (Hit PLAY.)
For the younger crowd OKCupid, launched in 2007, was a big hit. Zoosk, released that same year, is published in 25 different languages. It was one of the first computer dating sites to introduce mobile dating via cell phone.
The Cellular Dating Explosion
Today with the introduction of the cell phone app there seems to be no limit to targeted dating sites enjoyed, so they say, by over 71,000,000 people worldwide. The stigma, if there ever was one, is gone. Cyber dating has become socially acceptable. It’s no fad. It’s here to stay. Check out the Sunday New York Times society section. At least half a dozen wedding announcements in a recent issue involve couples matched via computer or handheld gadget. No surprise. Young people are spending hours every day cyber-chatting on their cell phones. The movies are suffering and even primetime TV viewing is down.
Today in the summer of 2017, in this age of specialization, Forbes Magazine maintains that forty percent of Americans use online dating sites… and no further away than our pockets or purses.
Price of Admission
Don’t be fooled by the so-called “free” apps. Some are advertiser-supported or merely misleading teasers with the intention of stepping you into an upgrade. Most however are monthly subscription supported. The app people have a great gig. They tease you with a guy or girl’s photo and a brief description, however to explore the candidate’s profile further and make a connection you have to pay for the privilege, credit cards accepted.
Pick and Choose
So what app works for you, assuming you’re on the prowl? Many seem similar, but some are what one might call “specialized apps.” BeLinked pairs LinkedIn participants. Coffee Meets Bagel, which is a so-called Jewish “ladies choice” app, uses Facebook login profiles and claims to cater to college grads.
Clover is a versatile app that lets you “order a date like you would a burrito.” Like eHarmony and Match.com, Clover uses algorithmic matching. The Uber of dating apps, it even suggests meeting places. Clover is primarily for millennials willing to take their chances on a surprise date paired according to their computer profiles.
SugarDaddyMeet and SeekingArrangement were launched for the single girl or woman in search of security. AgeMatch should be called “Age Gap” because it’s specifically designed for older women seeking younger men, or for a senior guy on the prowl for a cutie pie to change his luck.
The dating app business has further evolved in this age of specialization:
For the visually handicapped there is BlindDatingService, and for the hearing impaired, DeafPassions, KissofDeaf and Deaf Singles.
Tallfriends speaks for itself, but certainly not for those who fly economy. Wingman is a natural for gregarious singles traveling on the same flight. Great idea! Just wave. Would your neighbor mind changing seats?
WooPlus- Finally an app for “beautiful and handsome” plus size single women and men. Note: The assumption is that at least one of the candidates will be overweight. Sweat is for exercise devotees (showers advised), and Equestrian Cupid pairs up people who love horses. Question: Is this app for people who ride em or bet em?
Miss Travel matches people who love to travel. Take your choice, gals with guys, gals with gals, guys with guys. Doesn’t gel? Jump ship.
MeetMeOutside pairs up singles who want to share some hyper-challenging outdoor activities (i.e. skydiving, rock climbing, or bungee jumping) on their first date. Not for sissies. Then again, MeetMeOutside could be an invitation to leave some noisy tavern for a little one-on-one in the parking lot.
POF (Plenty of Fish) was one of the early publicized (movie and TV show) websites. It uses detailed personality tests. It’s basic service is free, but upgrades cost $$.
New specialized apps seem to pop up every day. Some are pretty far out. Hater matches people based on things they both hate. (Donald Trump fits.) Forget about privacy; Boompi is a ladies’ dating app that permits friends to eavesdrop on their cyber conversations. Sorta like an old fashioned telephone party line.
BikerKiss is the first online site for the guys and gals in the black leather jackets, and Skyecandy randomly selects and sets up short 5-minute video dates via Skype, after which players rate each other based on personal preferences.
For the elite there are such snobbish apps as Raya, supposedly for famous people only, and The League whose candidates must fit a particular profile (i.e. education, vocation, physical appearance, etc.) Their slogan: “We do the scouting and the vetting, you do the matching and the petting.”
Gay and Lesbian Dating Options
The dating game has become a highly specialized business. Grindr was the first and is today the largest and most popular gay dating site for men. It occupies an entire floor in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Scruff is for masculine Bi, Gay and curious men. Guyspy is a free dating app for men on the go. MrX qualifies players around the world by a list of core values. Growlr matches so-called “manly men on the prowl.” Hornet is a free app especially for guys new to town.
Her, Pink Cupid and Click are “lesbian apps for queer, bisexual and gay women.” Her tries to be more than a dating site. It’s free and includes news of common interest and photo sharing. Pink Cupid claims to offer ladies a choice of 30 different dating sites. Click’s members are paired based on shared interests and values.
Racial and Interracial Apps
The black dating market virtually exploded with the advent of the cell phone. BlackPeopleMeet was joined by such newcomers as SoulSwipe, which is a casual dating app that connects through one’s Facebook account. Meld, for black professionals, is listed in LinkedIn. Bae is one of the newest and hottest dating apps for black millennials. The choices go on: Black White, Melange, Mingled, Swirl Dating and Color Dating are all popular options.
Fetish Dating Apps
As one might expect, and certainly in California, so-called fetish dating sites are gaining popularity. Whiplr is a dating app in which participants share fetish information. It’s anonymous and private. Just pick your favorite kinky sport before you start chatting. Initial search is free. BDSM’s acronym whips and cries for itself. Cougar Life growls for older predatory women stalking the “jungle” for younger men. LadyboyKisses for crossdressers is big in Southeast Asia. We will leave DailyDiapers and Heels Dating to the blog reader’s imagination.
Apps for Friends, No Romantic Conditions Attached
Believe it or not, some apps are designed simply to connect people with others who share interests in common. Sporty for example matches people who enjoy a particular sport or outdoor activity. It could be an avenue for two nice people to meet, get acquainted, compare lives, perhaps explore other possible areas of compatibility, and who knows? On the other hand, according to a survey conducted by a website named “Bustle,” (not a dating app), some 38% of men and 44% of women who use dating apps play the game with a permanent relationship in mind.
Just a plain old ordinary app for a happily married woman who wants to meet and make new acquaintances. How about that? It’s associated with Facebook and marketed as “Tinder for Mom Friends.” Their tagline is “Meet as mamas, connect as women.” The app is ideal for mothers with families as well as single women who have recently relocated.
How does a parent control access to online dating apps? Big problem. Yellow and MyLOL are both referred to as “Tinder for teenagers.” Yellow is linked to Snapchat so it’s more secure. MyLOL, on the other hand, is considered the #1 teen dating app in the U.S. with 300,000 members. Parents beware, it’s open season for pedophiles.
With the success of Match.com, eHarmony and the other computer dating sites, followed by the introduction of the cell phone into the game, the emergence of the hookup app was inevitable. Imagine this senior’s surprise when he discovered that 40% of cell-connected hook-ups involved men and women in search of perhaps nothing more than a little sex.
Adults enter into a “hookup” app with the understanding that if the chemistry works the players will wind up in bed. Sure there are surprises and sometimes disappointments, but both players recognize it’s the luck of the draw. It’s a tempting option for the traveling husband who needs more lovin’ than he’s getting at home.
Who needs a little black book? If he’s feeling lonely and only in town for a night all he does is dial up Tinder or Blendr or Down or TikiTalk or 20 more one-night-stand options. If she’s not his type, doesn’t measure up, the right date could be just another hookup app away.
No commitments here, no long-term relationships, just one evening of his life and nothing to lose. Call it an adventure. Sure beats watching TV alone in his hotel room. Geoff Nate’s question? When do these hookup sites or apps or whatever qualify as what the law considers “sexual solicitation?” For ladies of the night cyber dating apps are certainly a lot safer than walking the streets. Both the ‘hooker’ and the ‘John’ can pre-qualify each other, warts and all. Pimps are cryin’ the blues.
Certainly contemporary advances in disease prevention and birth control play a large part in facilitating the proliferation of dating apps. None are accident-proof however. That’s the tricky part about the one night stand game. The sport is a crap shoot. It will never earn the medical profession’s seal of approval.
So-called “Awesome Apps” for the One Night Standers
Tinder is one of the match game’s oldest and most popular dating options. It has morphed into a site that specializes in easy hookups with both parties expecting more than an old-fashioned greet and meet. They claim to have made over 6 billion matches, and that their average patron spends 35 minutes a day on their app. It is said that 42% of Tinder players are married or have a steady partner. Ladies using those apps on a regular basis are called “Tinderellas.”
Actually, for some people online romance is merely a game. They say that one-third of dating app players never actually meet face-to-face. Feeld is Tinder for threesomes, an interesting novelty. Don’t knock it till you try it.
TikiTalk is a gateway for players who share various interests and activities (i.e. bowling, coffee or just “Netflix and chill”). Choose your sport. The app will provide you with a list of other players in your vicinity. Badoo like TikiTalk is a novel way of introduction to an attractive stranger nearby. Great for traveling singles… thanks to GPS. This app also tracks someone you might have “bumped into,” let’s say at a coffee shop, earlier in the day.
MeetMe- A great way to locate people of the opposite sex with whom you share similar interests. Like most other dating apps members send out private chat invitations. The use of its so-called “Discuss” tab enables players to meet in an online group setting. Sort of like ‘spin the milk bottle’?
Some apps are for information only. Stud or Dud provides detailed background data on prospective dates, whereas Zipskee fixes up candidates with a local guide who will pair up participants. (Note: There is a four-letter word for those guys.) Like Zipskee, Hitch enables a third party to play the role of matchmaker. If there’s a “referral fee” involved, it’s against the law.
Mimitate- Guys and gals take selfies while independently watching Netflix or some other TV show alone. The app makes the connection and if they like the show and each other’s looks… who knows? It’s referred to as another “Netflix and chill app” and is usually for one night stand candidates.
Diskreet- Serves as a locker for sexy photos. Partners can share a locker which can be accessed by encrypted passcodes. Veat goes one step further than photo sharing. This app can include a seven second video profile.
Happn– For singles who may have crossed paths several times and locked eyes but never connected. They say it’s like a Craigslist for dating. So how do you make the connection?
Blendr is a chatting app for heterosexual singles. It matches you by location for no-strings-attached fun and games. Subscription- $90/year, scaled down to $13/month. Whim says forget about back and forth texting. Simply enter your profile and Whim will set up a time and place to meet. All you have to do is show up.
Pure- Definitely for hookups. Simply download your photo and user profile. Chat it up for as much as an hour. Pure’s moto: “We promote a sex-positive attitude free of social constraint,” whatever that means. Down takes it a step further. It profiles match possibilities based on location. Candidates decide if they want a traditional date or if they just want to “get down,” In other words, swipe down if they are interested in a one night stand. Other so-called “hot” one-night “quickie” apps include Steam and Naughty Meet.
Big Ticket Game
With the advent of the cell phone, so-called computer dating has become big business. If you have a clever idea for a new mobile dating app be prepared to bring your bank book. Cyber-engineering and design talent don’t come cheap. This game is no hobby. If you want to play with the big boys figure a million for starters.
The dating app field is crowded and highly competitive. Siren won dating app of the year in 2015 at the Seattle Geekwire Awards. Siren billed itself as a “dating service for empowered women.” Ariana Huffington was one of the founders. Despite the fact that it was Facebook connected with a big name board of directors and a $500,000 capitalization, it never got beyond Seattle and New York City.
The Ashley Madison Story
Certainly one of the most creative cyber-dating sites “was,” Ashley Madison, an online Canadian dating service for married husbands or wives. They claimed to have over 30,000,000 members. Unfortunately the site was hacked in July of 2015 by some entity calling themselves “The Impact Team.” These bad guys demanded $2500 in bit coin fees from individual Ashley players, threatening to release their names to the public, or else. Instead of going out of business, Ashley simply switched from serving the unfaithful to traditional matchmaking, and according to ABC TV News, enjoyed an increase of over 4,000,000 subscribers. Go figure.
About a ‘Bot’
A ‘Bot’ is a phony online robot masquerading as a human on any dating site. You may be trying to date a computer generated respondent. Believe it or not some sites cater to lonesome cyber-geek voyeurs whose desires can be satisfied with no more than a sexually stimulating robo-chat to explore their fantasies via cell phone. This of course could open up a user to harassment or even blackmail. Some of scandalized Ashley Madison’s characters were Bots.
On the other hand, you don’t have to wine and dine ‘em. They’re low maintenance and they never complain. Call it Love at First Bot or Bot-U-Love. Hey, whatever turns you on!
Perils of Cyberdating
Sounds great. Geoff Nate is blown away by all of this love-at-your-fingertips-for-dollars business. I thought there were laws against play for pay love making. Assuming there’s no vindictive husband or wife at home. What have you got to lose? It’s just one evening or even one lunch or no more than a drink or two. On the other hand, there are risks to be considered.
Players are advised to be careful with whom and what they email or text, and to be cautious about giving out personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, etc. Parties can communicate with each other by handle. Trolling the internet incognito using fake photos and/or profiles is called “catfishing.” But sooner or later they will have to reveal their true identities. Until they decide to cross that boundary, all communication is app to app and personal details are protected.
Google Voice is a call forwarding service that provides you with a temporary phone number if you wish to remain anonymous. Some dating sites, Match.com‘s “matchPhone” for example, enable members to talk, text, and email or otherwise get acquainted anonymously.
Be careful! Your cyber paramour could be an undercover cop or blackmailer on the prowl. Your promise or commitment, regardless of how casually made, could be legally binding. The courts have ruled that any financial pledge made by text under $5,000 is considered enforceable in small claims court. At the very least you could be opening yourself to some unwanted online or cell phone harassment.
As for pregnancy and disease… if their adventures evolve beyond cyber-play, participants are advised to take the usual precautions. Unprotected sex has its consequences. You are on your own, though it sure would be nice if a bartender could mix a contraceptive cocktail.
Enough with the negatives. We’ve come a long way. Adventure awaits the adventurous. If you’ve got the time and want to have some fun. Go to it.
So when is Geoff Nate gonna bite that apple? “Hey Siri, can you find him an app for a beautiful young woman with a super-senior fetish and a passion for Single Malt Whisky?”