Informative & Thought-Provoking Posts From Around The Web – March Edition

Continuing our post from last month summarising the best informative and thought-provoking articles from around the web, here are six posts from the month of March covering the hottest topics related to love and relationships.

Is Big Data Dating The Key To Long-Lasting Romance?

Paul Rubens at the BBC investigates whether “big data” is the key to finding long-lasting romance and if modern technology can assist us all in finding our true love (or even just a highly compatible partner).

Love Machine: How Gen Yers Used Technology To Transform The Dating Game

“Sex and romance online was for freaks and geeks until young people came along. Nothing would ever be the same again.” In another post on love in the modern world and the use of technology, the Guardian looks at how Generation Y is going about the quest for love – their ways might seem outrageous to other generations, but it appears that the nature of the beast is still the same.

Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal As First Couples Wed In the UK

The first same-sex weddings have taken place after gay marriage became legal in England and Wales at midnight on March 29. Politicians from the main parties have hailed the change in the law. Scotland passed a similar law in February; the first same-sex marriages are expected there in October. For those who missed it last year, check out Find Keep Love’s post on Why Gay Marriage Is A Step Forward For Humanity.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law Challenged In Court

On the other side of the world, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed an anti-gay bill last month toughening penalties for gay people, including life sentences for gay sex and same-sex marriages. Some of the outrageous punishments include:

  • Life imprisonment for gay sex, including oral sex;
  • Life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive;
  • Life imprisonment for living in a same-sex marriage;
  • Seven years for “attempting to commit homosexuality”;
  • Between five and seven years in jail and/or a $40,700 (£24,500) fine for the promotion of homosexuality; and
  • Businesses or non-governmental organisations found guilty of the promotion of homosexuality would have their certificates of registration cancelled and directors could face seven years in jail.

Protests are ongoing from groups like All Out and LGBT groups around the world, and the law is currently being challenged in court in Uganda.

Am I Really Ready For This? Pre-Wedding Jitters

A good number of engagements happen during the month of love – Februrary – but what happens when the excitement dies down and reality hits. Here is some advice for those who have recently popped the question (or have been asked to marry) and the enormity of the situation has just sunk in.

Cat Café Opens In London – Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

And, finally, taking after the craze in Japan, a cat café has opened in London: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. At Lady Dinah’s – a home for rescued cats – visitors can kick back and relax with a cup of tea and spend time in the soothing company of our purring feline friends. This article provides more information on the cat café and its opening.

Informative & Thought-Provoking Posts From Around The Web – February Edition

February’s always a hot month for love with Valentine’s Day falling right in the middle. Here are a summary of posts from around the web this month that are informative and thought-provoking, covering various topics related to love and relationships. There’s something for everyone in this collection of news, articles and videos.

The History Of Marriage – Alex Gendler (A TED Talk)

“Marriage has always been shaped by society, and as a society’s structure, values and goals change over time, its ideas of marriage will continue to change along with them.” With marriage being a hotly discussed topic of late with increasing divorce rates and same-sex marriage legislation being debated by governments around the world, here is a brief history of marriage (via TED-Ed – Lessons Worth Sharing) in The History Of Marriage – Alex Gendler.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Polyamory But Were Afraid To Ask

Some of the estimated 1 million to 2 million Americans who choose to openly love more than one person share wisdom and advice for people who are considering “going poly,” or who are just curious about the practice in Everything you wanted to know about polyamory but were afraid to ask – inside the sex positive world of multiple partners.

10 Stubborn Sex Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked

Perhaps you’ve heard that size matters, women are naturally more bisexual than men, or that tantric sex means everlasting orgasms. The fact is, none of these things are quite true. Sex has been around forever, but we’re just starting to understand it. Lifehacker debunks 10 of the most common sex myths to set the record straight in 10 Stubborn Sex Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked.

Canadian Actress Ellen Page Comes Out As Gay At Time To Thrive Conference

Canadian actress Ellen Page made the brave decision to come out as gay at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Time to Thrive Conference in Nevada, Las Vegas. Check out the post over at the Human Rights Campaign’s Tumblr page and watch the Juno star’s moving coming out speech below.

Facebook Offers Users 56 New Gender Options

Facebook announced this month that it will allow users to customise their gender, after consulting on the subject with gay and transgender advocacy groups. Facebook now offers users 56 new gender options and here’s what they all mean over at The Week.

In The Mood For Love (10 TED Talks On Love)

Love: it’s what makes the world go round. And also: all you need. As well as that thing, in addition to war, in which all is fair. Here, watch TED Talks about this most basic of human emotions in In The Mood For Love.

26 Of Hollywood’s Most Romantic Movie Moments In One & A Half Minutes

Watch 26 of Hollywood’s most romantic movie moments in a minute and a half in The Most Romantic Movie Moments Mashup by Fandango.

Philosophy Of Love Course On MIT’s OpenCourseWare

The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) OpenCourseWare is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity. This course,  titled ‘Philosophy of Love,’ explores the nature of love through works of philosophy, literature, film, poetry, and individual experience. It investigates the distinction among eros, philia, and agape. Students discuss ideas of love as a feeling, an action, a species of ‘knowing someone,’ or a way to give or take. Authors studied include Plato, Kant, Buber, D. H. Lawrence, Rumi, and Aristotle. Find out more and go through the course materials yourself here.

New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life

Many of us make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year, but how many of us actually end up turning them in action, let alone achieve them? Now that we’ve had some time to get over New Year’s Eve festivities, reflecting on 2013, what were your best and worst moments of the past year? If you made resolutions last year, did you come close to achieving any of them? I managed to achieve 5.5 out of 7 of my resolutions, but I didn’t read nearly enough books as I’d hoped, and I lost some excess weight, but not nearly as much as I’d set as a goal. Starting and maintaining this blog was one of my resolutions last year and I’m looking forward to continuing and expanding it this year. It now has its own web address, too: findkeeplove.com.

Thinking about what we might like to achieve in 2014, let’s look at the resolutions you might have made. Many resolutions are made without serious intent and are too vague to actually achieve: “lose weight,” “find love,” “be happier,” and so on. Making resolutions for the right reasons and that are achievable give you a goal to aim at throughout the year, something to look forward to, a personal challenge, and/or a new start. We feel better about ourselves when we set personal goals, no matter how small, and then end up accomplishing them.

So how can we set realistic New Year resolutions and set out to achieve them? First, don’t think of a resolution as something silly you make up on New Year’s Eve, but as you would any other goal or challenge you might make on any other day of the year. If you have trouble taking a “New Year resolution” seriously, call it something else, like “Goals for 2014.” Then follow these simple steps:

1. Pick the right resolution(s)

Think about what you really want to achieve this year and how you will benefit from it.

2. Set an achievable goal

Unrealistic goals are doomed to fail and a goal is more achievable if you can quantify it in terms of numbers.

3. Set a time line for the goal

and if possible, break the goal up into steps. This helps you review your progress against tangible performance metrics. A resolution made without thinking of the steps necessary to achieve that resolution will most likely fail. If you want to lose weight, for example, try “exercise for 30 minutes a day,” “replace crisps/chocolate with a piece of fruit,” and so on, in order to lose weight (e.g., lose x kilograms).

4. Review your progress towards the goal

This helps you stay on track… and remember to try as hard as possible not to move the goalposts, but also remain somewhat flexible – at the end of the day, you are only letting yourself down, but you are the main influencer of your own happiness! At the end of January, review the progress towards your goals and see how you’re going.

5. Achieve your challenge

… or part of it. Even if you don’t complete 100% of the original goal, you may have learnt a thing or two along the way. And there’s always a chance to make new resolutions in a year’s time.

Making New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life – For Singles

For singles looking to find love, perhaps you can set yourself the goal of one activity a month that allows you to meet someone new. This might be joining new club, group or organisation related to something that interests you or something you’ve wanted to try. One place you can start looking is Meetup. It’s always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself from time to time. You can use these activities as an opportunity of assessing others’ suitability as a partner (subtly, of course).

If you’re serious about finding love this year, you’ll want to have a look at Find Keep Love’s three step program to finding love:

If you want to try online dating, sign up to a dating website or two and start creating a profile. You’ll might also like to check out our series of posts on online dating:

Making New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life – For Couples

For couples, you can set goals individually or together. As an individual goal, for example, resolve to do a random nice thing for your partner once a month (or once a week if you’re feeling overly ambitious) or to take your partner out for a proper romantic date once a month. Find Keep Love’s post on 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner addresses this topic and will point you in the right direction. You could also aim to pay your loved one a compliment a day for the entirety of 2014. 365 compliments will gain you some serious love points, and you’ll form good habits to strengthen your relationship.

You can also set goals together – to learn something new by taking a course together (a new language or a cooking course perhaps) or to go on a romantic getaway once or twice this year. Resolve to spend more quality time together, particularly if work or family life gets in the way. Our posts on Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates, Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts and The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last discuss some of the common issues with modern relationships and some ways to overcome them. You may also find some inspiration from our two-part post on the 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love and on the 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – you’ll want to aim to do more of the former and less of the latter.

What are your New Year resolutions? What steps will you take to achieve them?

How To Flirt – Flirting Via Texting & Messages

This post addresses how to flirt with someone via texting and messages and to perfect your writing style to win the interest of the object of your affection. In today’s busy world, texting and short messaging is the most common form of communication. Therefore, knowing how to text appropriately, including flirting with others, has become ever more important.

Use appropriate language

There’s nothing worse than someone attempting to use language outside of their age bracket. I’ve seen parents, for example, try to text their children with modern-speak (think LOL, LMAO, and so on) and just look inappropriate and lame. There is a whole group of people out there who think LOL stands for ‘Lots Of Love’. Not only is what you say in your text important, but the language you use tells the recipient a lot about you. Don’t come on too strong or use overly sexual language, which along with sending explicit sexual photos, is a big complaint from many women (see our post on 10 Things Men Want Women To Know & Women Want Men To Know. Your photos can be forwarded onto others at the click of a button, and can embarrass you in front of your friends, family and colleagues. Sexting scandals have ruined relationships, families, careers and reputations.

Check your spelling and grammar

Along with the style of language used in your message, make sure you check your spelling and grammar. Sending messages that are incomprehensible or inarticulate with sloppy grammar or incorrectly spelled words makes you look like a fool and makes the recipient feel like you don’t care about them enough to put in effort for them. Your writing doesn’t need to be perfect prose, but at least give your text a once-over before sending it. Watch out for the auto-correct function on your phone, too – you may end up saying the wrong thing and end up on a website like Autocorrect Fail. And finally, before you press send, always check your text is going to the right person! These quick checks can avoid a potentially embarrassing situation – imagine a flirty message going to a family member by accident.

Choose an appropriate time to text

There are many good times to send a text, but there are also a few times when you should NOT text someone. One such time is inappropriately late at night or early in the morning. Many phones have silent or ‘do not disturb’ functions on them, but be aware of your recipient’s schedule, and when might be appropriate to text them. Another time not to text someone is when you are incredibly drunk – drunken text messages usually end in embarrassment or hilarity (see Texts From Last Night for some examples) – but not very often do they result in a positive impact on your love life. A couple of drinks can give you the courage to message your crush, but any more than a few and you should keep your phone in your pocket. Try not to message someone – particularly someone you like – when in a highly emotional state (angry, sad, annoyed) as you may say something you regret and turn them off seeing you. No-one likes supporting emotional baggage in the early stages of a relationship. Finally, for safety’s sake, don’t text and drive. Texting requires a decent amount of concentration, using both your eyes and hands, which will distract you from driving and put you, your passengers and other road users at risk. Use a hands free kit with a text-to-speech facility or use an app for your phone like Siri, Skyvi (Siri for Android), SMS Reader, and so on. Although, there are studies that show this is still distracting and risky behaviour.

Be casual, be cool, be creative

You should never go too overboard or come on too strong in a text message, so try to be as natural as possible. So many people over-think what they’re going to say that the text or message feels forced and unnatural. Some of the rules of flirting via texting or messaging are not so different to those in real life, and the best flirts come across as easy going and natural. Subtlety and balance are crucial, but also try to be creative. It is a much greater skill to be creative and come across as interesting when using only words as your medium, and they’ll be impressed if you can pull this off. Make them laugh, make a clever or interesting observation, or just be original in the best way that you can be (don’t try to be someone that you’re not). Don’t try too hard, though, and don’t try to be too funny or seem too eager or enthusiastic – it can be a major turn-off.

How to begin your conversation

One of the best ways to start a text conversation is to ask a question. It can keep a conversation going and you can learn more about the other person. Keep the questions simple and open-ended, which gives them more opportunity to answer, but don’t be too open-ended or philosophical in a way that might puzzle them. Ask them their opinion on a new movie, restaurant, band or news item (news that isn’t too controversial). Be thoughtful, too – if you know they were doing something important (a sports competition, a test or exam, or a job interview), ask them about it and show that you care. If they’ve been sick, ask if they’re feeling better. You could also write about an observation or something else that made you think of them. It may have been a place you visited or something you ate or a conversation you had – it informs them that you were thinking of them without being too direct.

Taking flirting to the next level

A little naughtiness or teasing can be a great way to take the flirting to the next level, but it requires subtlety, indirectness and MUCH CARE. As mentioned above, sexting can turn off many women, particularly sending in-your-face sexually explicit photos. Learn to read the nature of their replies to gauge whether or not a particular topic or level of conversation is appropriate at that point of time. Something like ‘TMI’ (= Too Much Information) as a response is good indication you’ve already said enough. Tease your crush lightly and be a little playful, but not too much. Sometimes an overly sensitive recipient, mixed with a lack of forethought, can end up with them being offended – see 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 2. Keep it light, make it clear that you’re joking, and show that you don’t take yourself too seriously. You could think about a silly nickname for them and use it when you contact them. Don’t forget to complement your crush either – find a subtle way to let them know they looked cute or nice, or that you like their new haircut or outfit.

Do I call or do I text?

Some people really don’t enjoy the cumbersome effort of typing out a message and prefer the relative simplicity of talking on the phone. On the other hand, some people find texting more preferable and hate talking on the phone. With texting, they can answer in their own time and can text more easily in certain situations, like when with others, when on public transport, when in a class or lecture, and so on. Try to gauge your interest’s preference early on and communicate with them in the way they prefer.

Treat texting for what it is – a casual form of communication

Remember texting and messaging for what they are – a casual, short form of communication – and don’t expect to build a meaningful, deep connection. It might be a great way for a little flirting, to learn a little more about each other or to make plans, but you can’t beat the connection that can be made in person. There’s less chance of a miscommunication via texts and messages, too, because you can read their body language and judge the tone of their voice.

With these tips at hand, it’s your turn now to try some of them out yourself. Good luck! And stay tuned for the next post on How To Flirt – Flirting In Person.

Online Dating – Creating A Successful Online Dating Profile

In this post, Find Keep Love looks at how to create a successful online dating profile, to give you the best possible chance of attracting possible suitors and finding the most suitable person for you. Here are our three biggest tips for perfecting your profile:

1. Choose your best, most appropriate photo(s)

The photo(s) you choose for your online dating profile are crucial. Your first impression, as in real life, is a visual one. Within the first few seconds of seeing someone new, we make a number of subconscious decisions and judgements based on what we see. Are you someone to engage with or avoid? Are you similar or different? Will you have compatible tastes? Do you appear friendly, trustworthy, competent and likeable? The world of online dating can be cut-throat and your profile picture(s) make a significant first impression one way or another. Think hard about how you want to be viewed. How you are perceived by others can be related to who you attract and an inappropriate choice of photo might attract undesirable suitors. Make sure your photo truly represents who you are and is recent. Some photos to avoid posting include:

  • Retro photos (from 10 years ago when you may have been younger, slimmer and more carefree).
  • Photos with ex-partners (who may be present or cropped out),
  • The bathroom mirror self-shot (with or without the modern day ‘duck-face’ pout),
  • Photos with others (particularly if which one you are is ambiguous), and
  • Party photos (you might like to advertise that you’re fun and exciting, but not many bar/nightclub photos bring out the best in us, often making us look tired, drunk and/or sweaty).

2. Be honest

It is fairly obvious that if you lie about your physical characteristics on your profile, you’ll be found out eventually when you meet for a date. But you’d be surprised how many people describe themselves as a little bit taller, slimmer or even younger than they actually are (good, recent photos can avoid this temptation to overstate reality). When filling out your profile, try to give as much information about yourself as possible, while avoiding some of the security issues with releasing personal information on the internet (see our post on Online Dating – Tips & Advice To Stay Safe Online). In particular, if a site uses a matching algorithm, you have more chances of finding a good match if you have a complete profile. As described in The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last, without honesty, you might find your partner falling in love with the person you portray to win their affection, and not your true self. Being yourself from the outset can avoid this later on, and this starts with your profile.

3. Sell yourself

One key advantage of online dating is that you can browse profiles without having to interact with anyone and do so in the privacy of your own home, but this allowance for anonymity can make it feel harsh for those who are overlooked with a simple scroll of the mouse. So, whilst honesty in your profile is laudable, you mustn’t forget to sell yourself and paint yourself in the best possible light. How can you set yourself ahead of the competition?

  • Treat your dating profile as you would your resume when applying for a job (without listing all the juicy/gory details of your past experiences, of course). Keep your profile, including your relationship needs/wants, goals, and so on, up to date.
  • Create a profile heading that’s catchy and grabs people’s attention. Something ideally that stays in the reader’s mind, even after reading dozens of other profiles.
  • Be original and creative. By all means use other profiles for inspiration, but focus on what makes you, well YOU. Try to avoid clichéd interests like ‘socialising with friends,’ ‘reading,’ or ‘watching beautiful sunsets’. What are the things in life you’re really passionate about? Write about these.
  • Avoid negativity. Although you may have had bad experiences in the past, or your luck in love might be down, try not to express this too much in your language on your profile. Avoid talk of horrible relationships, cheating ex-partners or how desperate you are to find love.
  • Ask friends/family what they see as your positive characteristics. Sometimes they can see something your own judgement cannot. You could also ask them to review your profile – an extra pair of eyes can make a world of difference.
  • Keep your profile simple and succinct. Simple doesn’t have to mean dull if you’re wise with the words you use.
  • Do one final spelling and grammar check. You wouldn’t send out a resume with spelling and grammar errors in it, and you shouldn’t do the same with your online dating profile.

Following these three steps will put you in the best possible position to get and maintain interest in your online dating profile and take the first step in finding love online. Now you can use some of the suggested tools and websites in our post on Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love to start perfecting your profile.

Online Dating – Tips & Advice To Stay Safe Online

The internet offers so many different and exciting opportunities to explore, share information, and meet new people. In Part 1: Find Love. Step 3. (Where To) Start Looking For Love., internet/online dating was introduced as one of the common places to look for love, which was then extended in Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love. Find Keep Love also covered the potential of Facebook as a dating tool in Online Dating – Could A Facebook Dating App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site?

But using the internet can put you at risk of illegal activities or abuse, including bullying, fraud, cyber crime or something more serious. Unlike seeing someone face to face, people aren’t always what they first seem in the digital world. In this post, Find Keep Love looks at how to stay safe online, so that you can utilise the huge potential of the internet to enjoy meeting new friends and date safely.

  • Protect your privacy on social networking sites. Almost everyone nowadays is connected via one or more social network, such as Facebook, Google+, Sina Weibo [Chinese], LinkedIn, Bebo and so on. Check your social media privacy settings and the information you are allowing into the public domain and to your connections. The abundant personal information available on such sites is a predator’s dream come true. Set up privacy restrictions to give only trusted people access to personal information and activities. Do not give strangers access to your social networking sites, but if you must connect with strangers for some reason (some games encourage you to build a large social network), make sure you restrict their access.
  • Understand the settings for your GPS and geolocation services on your electronic devices, as well as your social media networks. Consider turning off the GPS on your mobile phones and cameras, unless you want people to know where you are. You may be inadvertently be posting your location when you post photos, status updates, and so on. To keep your location private, avoid sending or posting images from GPS-enabled devices.
  • Don’t give out private personal information online. Unless you are 100% sure of the person you are giving it to, of course. Use discretion when deciding what information to reveal about yourself, but never, ever disclose private information such as bank details, your passport number, account passwords, and so on.
  • Keep your login information and passwords private and secure. Your passwords are the most common way to prove your identity when using websites, email accounts and even your computer itself (via User Accounts). Avoid public or shared computers where login information can be saved or cached, and avoid automatic login features and do not save passwords to avoid entering a password. The use of strong (varied and difficult) passwords is essential to protect your security and identity. The best security in the world is useless if a malicious person has a legitimate user name and password. Here are some tips for choosing the best passwords:

Password Dos:

  • Choose a password with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols such as @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +. For example, SP1D3Rm@n – a variation of Spiderman, with letters and numbers, upper and lower case. But be aware that some of these punctuation marks may be difficult to enter on foreign keyboards.
  • Choose a password containing at least eight characters. Longer passwords are harder for criminals to guess or break.

Password Don’ts:

Don’t use the following as passwords:

  • Your username, actual name or business name.
  • Family members’ or pets’ names.
  • Your birthday or the birthdays of family members.
  • Favourite sports team or other words easy to work out with a little background knowledge of your likes and dislikes.
  • The word ‘password’ (you’d be surprised how many people use this as their deafult password!).
  • Numerical sequences.
  • A commonplace dictionary word, which could be cracked by common hacking programs.
  • Protect your computer from viruses, malware and spyware. Use software, such as free software like Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast, AVG or McAfee’s free virus removal tools.
  • Make sure you’re using a reputable online dating service, chat site or phone app. There are many, many dodgy internet sites, and a number of these are dating sites wanting to exploit those seriously looking for love. For our recommended websites and phone apps, check out our post on Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love. Make sure you read the dating site or app’s terms of service and privacy policy. This can be difficult at times, because many privacy policies seem to be written in the most confusing language possible. Here are some things you should look for:
  • A dating site should provide online security – HTTPS
  • It should delete all your personal data after you close the account.
  • It should be upfront about how it shares your personal information with other members.
  • It should be upfront about who else gets to see your data.
  • It should indicate whether the dating site shares your e-mail address with third parties.
  • Does it give you a chance to opt out?
  • Does it provide the name of a real human being to contact if you have questions?
  • Use an email address without your full name or use a pseudonym or nickname. If you use a work or personal email account, your full name may appear on any email you send. With your full name and location, someone may find your address and even phone number via people search websites like 192.com. To get around this, we suggest you get a free email account (for example, from Yahoo Mail, Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com) and avoid using your last name. You may even want to use a different first name – try making up a fun nickname like “StaticKitten”. This nickname doesn’t need to be your screen name.
  • Take your time and don’t rush into things. Do not feel compelled or pressured to do anything you are not completely comfortable with. The online world allows for anonymity, which can work for you and against you. Start with a few emails back and forth or use online chat (some dating websites offer this as part of their package), then a few phone calls, before meeting in person. A highly recommended alternative to the phone is Skype, which offers free video calls over the internet and cheap calls to phones. There are also a number of smartphone apps, like Line, WhatsApp*, ooVoo, Viber and Tango that offer various combinations of free messaging and audio/video calling.
    *WhatsApp is now a paid service.
  • Be aware that webcams and Skype calls may be recorded. Be extremely wary about removing clothes or doing other private things in front of your webcam, which could be used against you, even if you feel comfortable with and think you know the other party. It is really easy these days to record both video and audio using a number of different software packages. Some chat websites, for example, cache live images to show on your profile. Webcam blackmail is becoming more commonplace, where fraudsters record your webcam then use the recording to extort money. Emails, messages, screen captures and so on can be forwarded to others at the click of a button, so be careful what you do and say.
  • When you do meet your new date (especially the first time), do it with a friend and in a public place. If you can’t arrange a friend to be there physically with you (or nearby), at least tell a friend or family member and check in with them at some stage during the date.
  • Never leave or go home with them. Be wary if they suggest going somewhere more private (unless the date is going well and heading in that direction). If you begin to feel uncomfortable (in a more serious way, not those normal dating jitters) or unsafe, leave the situation as soon as possible.
  • Report any attacks or threats to the police immediately.

Are you as safe as you should be online? Have you ever had a bad experience with someone or something online?

With these tips – and following the dos and don’ts in our post on Part 1: Find Love. First Date Dos and Don’ts – you’ll ensure your date is both safe and enjoyable.

A special thanks goes to Alastair at CitizenArc for providing a number of useful tips for this article. CitizenArc is a West London-based computer support service offering technical support and professional training for individuals and businesses, specialising in Apple Mac and iOS.

For more information on staying safe online, check out Google’s post on How you can stay safe and secure online.

The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last

The roles of men and women have changed in Western society over the past few decades and it’s now estimated that up to a half of all marriages end in divorce. Why has this happened? Are people more immoral than they used to be? Are modern couples not as strong-willed as ones in the past? No, divorce rates are now higher because the laws have changed, the stigma attached to a being a divorcée has been reduced, and society has placed a higher premium on individual rights. We all have a greater awareness of the fragility of life and that life really is too short to be unhappy and stick in situations that are no good for our mental and/or physical well-being. People are realising the importance of individual happiness against sticking together for some other reason (because they “said till death do us part” or to do so “for the kids” and so on) and enduring a life of unhappiness. An interesting post on the reasons for divorce can be found here, but in this post I’ll be discussing relationships that didn’t break down due to infidelity, a traumatic, life-changing or significantly stressful event, domestic violence or addiction(s).

There aren’t too many couples who aren’t madly in love when they first get married (with the exception being arranged marriages), so how does a relationship end up in such a state? People do change with time – not just physically, but their personality, likes and dislikes, and even beliefs. Think about the person you were five years ago, or even a year ago, and how much you have changed since then. The pace of modern life means these changes occur at a faster rate than ever before. If you don’t keep up to date with your partner’s thoughts, feelings and activities, you may end up loving the person they once were, and not who they’re becoming (and then feeling like you don’t know them anymore). This is one reason why couples ‘drift apart’ or feel like they ‘don’t know each other anymore,’ but is this because the relationship hasn’t been maintained properly? By maintaining your relationship (see our post on Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts) and by keeping the love strong by doing an occasional nice thing (see 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner), your love for your partner will change dynamically with time and be continually refreshed.

Perhaps the relationship just wasn’t meant to be? People – friends, as well as lovers – come into our lives to help form new chapters of our lives, some can be brief (a seasonal love), others longer, but there are some gems that last a lifetime. Sometimes we misjudge relationships – we can hang onto the wrong person, trying as we might to make things work, or we can give up the right person prematurely. It is incredibly rare for two people to find themselves exactly on the same page.

Or perhaps you weren’t being honest from the very start? Perhaps your partner fell in love with the person you portrayed to win their affection, and not your true self. Being yourself from the outset can avoid this later on. The longer you date someone, the harder it is to fake who you really are. As someone who’s been there before, and told a white lie or two to gain someone’s interest – in the early stages of dating, meeting someone say once a week or month, you can almost be anyone you like. This reminds me of the movie There’s Something About Mary, where each of the guys vying for Mary’s attention create their own fake persona to win her over.

The proliferation of romantic movies, including romantic comedies, can also share the blame as many of these give a false sense of hope and aren’t treated as merely a form of escapism. Treating them as realistic can give unrealistic expectations of your partner and your relationship, particularly when times are tough in a relationship and the parties involved think a quick and amicable solution can be reached immediately. Hardly ever are the normal, everyday parts of the relationship portrayed in a 90 minute movie (well, it wouldn’t sell movie tickets, would it?). This topic is also covered in Romantic comedies make us ‘unrealistic about relationships’, claim scientists and Romantic Comedies Are Ruining Real Life Relationships. However, there are a few movies that do keep it real – It’s Complicated, The Change-Up (except for the switching bodies part), This Is 40, Crazy Stupid Love, and the latest release, I Give It A Year, which looks at the trials and tribulations of a newlywed couple during their first year of marriage. The trailers for these movies can be found at the end of this post.

There are also scientific explanations for why feelings seem to change with time and why we shouldn’t panic when they do, but I’ll save that discussion for another day… stay tuned for Scientific Explanations For Love (And Why Hearts Seem To Change).

Why do you think couples drift apart? If you’ve been in a long-term relationship before, did something cause your relationship to break down?

Realistic Rom Com #1: It’s Complicated

Realistic Rom Com #2: The Change-Up

Realistic Rom Com #3: This Is 40

Realistic Rom Com #4: Crazy Stupid Love

Realistic Rom Com #5: I Give It A Year

6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2

In the previous post 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1, we examined the first three of six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. In this post, we examine the second three of six secrets, and summarise what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

4. Show affection & intimacy

It is important to show your love in the form of affection and intimacy. As life goes by, and we become more comfortable in our relationship, we often forget to not only show our gratitude, but to express our feelings and attraction physically. The ‘good feeling’ chemicals in the brain (we’ll address the science behind love in another post) that made us so excited at the beginning of the relationship start to wear off with time and I’m sure there aren’t many longer term relationships that are as physically involved (read sexual) as they were in the first few months. The good thing is that if you’re a couple in this position, you’re not alone! The bad thing is that affection and intimacy requires a little more effort and motivation than before. Dating someone once or twice a week or month is very different to seeing each other every day and seeing their ‘ugly’ side (the morning breath and other bad smells, the bed hair, no make-up, and so on). But it doesn’t have to be too hard – be spontaneous, grab your partner and kiss them occasionally, be playful, have fun doing silly things together, hold hands, hop in the shower or bath together – but maintain some form of physical contact that keeps your love alive.

5. Maintain individuality (“us” time vs. “me” time)

It is essential to maintain a bond of togetherness with your partner with mutual interests. Going on dates together is important (and scheduling them if you’re busy people) and ensuring adequate “us” time, to learn and grow together. But giving your partner freedom to explore their own life is also critically important, by letting your partner have their own friends, their own hobbies and interests, their own “me” time. A relationship is a partnership in love and a journey through life together, but one should never lose their own individuality. The longer you spend with someone in a relationship, the more your lives become intertwined, which can leave you feeling dependent on your partner and depended on, upsetting your emotional balance and making you feel trapped and restricted. Think of the relationship as two individuals joined together by love on a journey towards a common goal (or goals). As Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “Love is not looking at each other, but looking together in the same direction.” You should both be able to do your own thing with or without others, without the other being jealous or thinking that they don’t love or enjoy spending time with them.

6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

All successful relationships are based on a healthy level of trust for without trust a relationship will not survive. Trust is a two-way street: you must have the correct combination of one partner being trustworthy and the other being trusting. A relationship just won’t last if one is trustworthy and the other untrusting, or one is trusting and the other untrustworthy. Trust is one of the most precious commodities in a relationship and is far easier to lose than to gain. It is earned over time and is built on integrity and confidence in another. Think about you and your personal relationships – do you think you are considered a trustworthy person? Do you have trouble trusting others? If you’re having trouble with trust in your relationship, you’ll want to read our post on 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy and More Trusting.

Practising these six things – along with the suggestions in Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates and Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts – will ensure you and you partner are well on your way to a happy and successful long term relationship. In summary:

1. Show your gratitude
2. Encourage your partner
3. Tolerate their flaws & habits
4. Show affection & intimacy
5. Maintain individuality
6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?

Online Dating – Could A Facebook Dating App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site?

Facebook-Dating-Apps

Something I’ve been wondering lately is why Facebook doesn’t get involved in online dating? One of the biggest problems with online dating is knowing whether or not a site is reputable (after all, you’d be giving them your personal information, including perhaps your credit card details), but another problem is working out how many of the users they claim to have are actually active (and REAL). Having a large and active user base is the holy grail for most dating sites.

There are a number of sites who exaggerate their numbers, but there are even worse sites who create fake profiles to seem more popular than they are (then disappoint their customers when they don’t get many replies!). This is more common with adult sites, and it’s even harder to tell on those kinds of sites, as people try to be as anonymous as possible, creating further doubt.

I’m sure someone else has already thought of this idea long before me (I know there are some apps already not sanctioned by Facebook themselves though), but with a database of users as large as Facebook’s why don’t Facebook themselves try their own dating service? Users could opt in to the service, which could be in the form of an app, and like other apps, users can choose their own privacy settings depending on whether or not they want their friends (and the general public) to know that they’re looking (you might get unwanted date invites from your friends and colleagues!). You could create a dating profile using the details from the user’s Facebook profile with the click of a few buttons… and if anyone’s used online dating before, you’ll know that writing an online profile is really tedious, and selling yourself in this respect is an art form in itself (there is a business in writing online dating profiles!).

Your Facebook page would already have quite a lot about your likes/dislikes, your interests, and maybe even more (like your religion if you have one, your political views, and so on). It would only take someone to write a smart matching algorithm to match potential mates using the wealth of information available on Facebook. Facebook users could opt in or out of the service at the click of a button. With reportedly over one billion active users, it could potentially be the biggest and most useful dating app/site in the world. Food for thought perhaps?

Imagine personalised recommendations, for a potential partner or even just a friendship, that partnered you with relevant people. For example: Matt, you and Belinda both enjoy mountain biking and hiking, watching action movies, travelling around Asia, eating at Italian restaurants, and are looking for a long-term relationship with a view to marriage. Much better than “Hey, you have 10 friends in common! How about it?”, I think.

Some existing Facebook dating apps include ZooskSpeedDate and Online People, but there’s much room for improvement (none of these are actually very good). For traditional online dating websites and smartphone apps, check out our post on Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love.

What do you think? Do you think a dating site spun off from Facebook profiles – like Facebook Dating – is a good idea?

6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1

As discussed in the post Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts, all relationships should be maintained to keep them fresh and mutually beneficial. Modern times are busier and more unpredictable than ever and sometimes relationships can suffer as life flies by (see Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates). In the next two posts, we’ll examine six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. Are you doing the right things in your relationship?

1. Show your gratitude

Be gracious for the things your partner does for you and never take anything for granted. Appreciate even the small things. As a thought experiment, imagine waking up tomorrow and not having your partner there. How would you feel? Think about the things your partner does for you or provides for you and your relationship. What would you miss? If you appreciate them, a few words of thanks go a long way. Tell them – or better still, show them – how you feel. For tips on how to do this, have a look at 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner. This is also a good opportunity to thank other loved ones in your life: your friends and family. Too many people leave it until the last minute – or until it’s too late – to tell the special people in their life that they are appreciated, and regrets like these can last a lifetime. It can be awkward at first – many of us are not confident or comfortable expressing our feelings – but start with something simple (thanks for a meal, for example) and work your way up to feelings of more substance.

2. Encourage your partner

Encourage your partner’s pursuits, hobbies or interests: the things that make your partner happy. As long as their interest does not harm others (or themselves), and keeps them happy/amused/sane, then you should proactively support their pursuit of happiness. Make them feel supported, and help them maintain their own individuality (see Maintain individuality in Part 2). We should all encourage each other to pursue happiness in our own unique way, express ourselves, and enjoy the journey of life, which can be harsh and challenging. Feeling supported and encouraged makes us feel safe, loved and important – no matter what life throws at us.

3. Tolerate their flaws & habits

You must be able to tolerate character flaws and bad habits – everyone has them, this is part of human nature (again, as long as these aren’t harming them or others). I had an ex-cricket team-mate who couldn’t be around his wife when she made a cup of tea or coffee because the rattle the spoon made when stirring her tea irritated him so much. This is something I’d suggest to tolerate. Guys, for example (in general), have a lower standard for cleanliness and organisation than girls do. We must tolerate and understand that these small differences exist. I, personally, have learnt to leave the toilet seat down. The benefits of doing so outweigh the effort required to put the seat back down after I’m done. With tolerating behaviour, remember the saying “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff“. Think about the things you and your partner might argue about – are they really that important? For the bigger issues – these can be financial, job- or career-related, or to do with another interpersonal relationship – it is important that you communicate with your partner about the issue. The smaller issues – dirty clothes on the floor, leaving things in what you deem to be their ‘incorrect’ location – can be sorted out with some compromise from both sides. For the perpetrator, can you make a slight modification in the habits or behaviour that annoys your partner without too much effort? For the annoyed party, can you see past and accept your partner’s ‘misbehaviour’?

Be sure to read the second part of this post, 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2, which examines the second three of six secrets, and summarises what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?