Speed dating comes to mobile – on your schedule!

Man and woman with smartphones

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We’re glad to see another app that bypasses the potential for endless online back-and-forth in favor of bringing people together in real life to find out if they’re truly compatible:

MiniDates joins Cheek’d and Coffee Meets Bagel in pushing a real-life connection much harder than a virtual one, by simply scheduling dates (or MiniDates) for you based on your schedule and suitor preferences. No messaging, no browsing, just a real-life blind date at a neutral, public location.


Interestingly enough, MiniDates is a mobile-friendly HTML5 app, not a native mobile app for the iPhone or Android. How this will affect functionality is up for debate, but one commenter at TechCrunch has already pointed out the screening effect of excluding Internet Explorer users.



New (almost) free mobile dating app for Jewish singles!

While JDate.com has been the go-to web and mobile app for the Chosen People, many have balked at paying recurring subscription fees for dating apps in the post-OKCupid world. Enter Jewish Dating:

Screens from the iTunes app store for Jewish Dating

Built on the Dating DNA platform, the Jewish Dating app costs $.99 to buy (with a premium version for $4.99) with no ongoing fees.

While it’s still too early to tell if this model will attract enough customers to make the app worthwhile, it’s always good to see new options.

Shocking user-created content on dating sites!

Laptop photoshopped into a painting

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Sites like OKCupid let potential daters upload their own questions for themselves and others to answer. But what happens when the questions reveal more than the answers? Teresa Johnson at The Horn shares some doozies:

“No means NO!”

To me, this isn’t a question up for discussion. And the only user response I consider acceptable is “Always. Period.” But there are three other possible responses that chill me to the bone:

-“Mostly, but occasionally it’s really a Yes in disguise.”

-“A No is just a Yes that needs a little convincing!”

-And “Never, they all want me. They just don’t know it.”

I would hope that the site she’s referring to allows her to see which user uploaded this question, so she can steer FAR clear of him – and suggest other women do the same.

Have you ever seen something on a dating site that made you say “oh HELL no”? Share it with the crowd!

How strong is your online dating password?

Secure Password of the Week

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The hacking of military dating site MilitarySingles.com has been examined, and while the crux of the security weakness came from the site’s upload architecture and poorly protected data, customers made themselves especially vulnerable by using weak passwords:

Visualization of MilitarySingles.com passwords

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How secure is the password you’re using on an online dating site? Test yours on the How Secure Is My Password? site, and if you get a poor rating, try adding numbers or other special characters, or try another tool.

Dating online is hard enough without the world finding out that your OKCupid.com password is “loveskittens”!

5 essential tools for safe dating

Circle of 6

Circle of 6 app screenA simple, two-touch way to create a circle of trusted friends who can pick you up if you need a ride, interrupt a crappy date, or apply the clue-by-four when you need it. They even won the White House’s “Apps Against Abuse” challenge last year:

Cost: Free.

Availability: iPhone only.

The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de BeckerIt seems strange to include a dead-tree book in a list of “tools”, but this is one of the best resources for women to keep themselves safe, whether you’re dating or not.

Cost: Used copies sell for $5, or you can check it out from your local library for free.

Availability: Libraries and bookstores.


Streetsafe appWhen was the last time you were walking to your car or waiting for the train somewhere sketchy, and just wanted the safety of having someone on the phone? While I haven’t talked to anyone who’s shelled out the $20 a month for this app, Jezebel has.

Cost: $19.99 per month, or $149.99 per year.

Availability: Wherever your cell phone works.


Life360 app screensAnother app that uses your phone’s GPS for good instead of evil, Life360 uses data and SMS to let you check in with your family, and even has a panic button and a sex offender registry.

Cost: Free, although there’s a premium version as well.

Availability: iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

Bad Date Rescue

Bad Date Rescue appMore of a laugh than a serious safety app from eHarmony. Still who doesn’t like the idea of being able to set a “rescue” timer for a date quickly going downhill?

Cost: Free.

Availability: iPhone and iPad only.

How important is “compatibility”?

Stuff I like/ stuff you like Venn diagram

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I recently participated in a spirited Facebook discussion about the differences between what men want from an online dating app and what women want. The topic of compatibility became an integral difference – to wit, women care about it, men not so much.

One male friend of mine defended the typical male “shotgun” approach to dating sites – sending messages to as many women as possible in hopes of defeating what he said was a meager 10% response rate. When asked why men send messages to women they’re not actually compatible with, this was his response:

Most men are of the opinion that women in their mid-20s and earlier don’t really know what they’re looking for (versus what they say they’re looking for). Whether or not this is true is a different question, but the result is that men don’t care about compatibility so much as they care about not being filtered out.

This was a real eye-opener for me as a woman, and it got me thinking about different types of “compatibility” and how important they really are to a successful relationship.

Good on paper

Sites like OKCupid and eHarmony have made a crapton of money matching people based on “paper” compatibility – beliefs, hobbies, and personality traits people have in common. The more you have in common, the more likely you’ll be pushed at each other. But who really wants to date a copy of themselves, except for narcissists?

Some of the longest-lasting, funnest relationships I’ve had have been with people who liked radically different music than I did, or came from wildly different backgrounds. I love learning about new things from my friends – why would I want to date someone who only likes the same things I do?

The pheromone challenge

For me, the best indicator of whether I’m into someone enough to stick around and make a relationship work is if we have physical compatibility. Not just sex, but that pheromonal compatibility that I think of as “chemistry”. When someone just smells right.

So until someone builds a scratch-and-sniff web site, the only way to figure out if I’m truly compatible with someone is to meet them in the flesh. And, if it doesn’t seem too weird, smell his neck when he’s not looking.

Hey boy – why you didn’t call me?

The best song ever about the Houdini. Also, the story behind the song is hilarious.

A. You’re gay.

B. You’ve got a girlfriend.

C. You kinda thought I came on too strong.

D. I just wasn’t your thing (no ring).

What do women want from online dating?

Hot-ass red shoes

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It’s pretty commonly accepted at this point that when it comes to dating, men and women are different. We have different priorities, different criteria, and above all, different concerns.

A man might be afraid that the woman he meets online turns out to be ten years older and twenty pounds heavier than her photo. Women are afraid of violence, stalkers, or worse.

That’s why I bang my head on my desk (or the bar) every time I read a male app developer talking about how women will love his app because it’s purple.

Honey, if that’s all it took, Nordstrom would be full of Barney the Dinosaur purses.

Online dating sites and apps succeed or fail on whether or not women use them. So what do women want from a dating site or app? Here’s what my anecdata holds, and what app developers can learn from it.


Women tend to be more cautious about how exposed they are than men. When the excrement hit the air conditioning over the Girls Around Me app, the women I knew split into two distinct camps – those who were younger, more jaded about online privacy, and less worried about what potential stalkers would do with this information; and those who make a habit of periodically locking down their Facebook privacy settings as a matter of digital hygiene. The lesson for women is that any app that encourages you to “check in” probably uses an API (application programming interface) that allows developers of other apps to display that information in whatever way they see fit.

Takeaway: Let women control who can view their profile information, including photos, no matter how innocuous that information may seem to men.


A friend of mine called it the “Preparation H problem” – no one is going to “Like” the Preparation H page on Facebook because they don’t want their friends to know they have hemorrhoids. Similarly, no one – especially women – wants their friends and family to know that they’re trolling for tail on the internet.

Takeaway: Don’t force users to log in to your app using Facebook, even if you promise not to post to their Facebook walls.


Craigslist is the shortbus of online dating. That’s because there’s no quality control, no requirements, and no guidance on what daters should include based on best practices and research. Women spend more than 50% longer than men reading profiles, yet most of the “m4w” ads on Craigslist lack basic information. The more data we have, the more comfortable we are – and there are already too many horror stories about women being harmed by their online suitors.

Takeaway: Encourage all users, but especially men, to fill out their profiles thoroughly with completion bars and percentages or “badges” or other gamification tools.

What lies have you told in an online personal ad?

Liars sign

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If you’re online dating, it’s a safe assumption to add 20 pounds to a woman’s weight and subtract 2 inches from a man’s height. Brian Moylan at Vice agrees with me. Best quote:

Dating websites are like reality shows: no one is there to make friends.

I’ll admit to exaggerating how social I am, but haven’t (had to) lie about my weight, cultural cred, or penis size. Ahem. Although, Brian? I actually do listen to Mozart, so there.

What’s the most inaccurate thing you’ve ever put in an online dating profile?

Should women have all the control in online dating?

Necklace that reads "Pussy Power"

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A new dating site in South Africa has launched with the express goal of putting women in the drivers’ seat. AdoptHim (does anyone else get a whiff of incest off the name?) claims to go beyond letting women block stalkers.

A man can’t see a woman’s profile or contact her until she adds him to a “whitelist” of approved members, encouraging greater profile completion by the men on the site. Men can also send virtual gifts (paid for with actual currency, of course) to show interest.

Back in the days of Spring Street Networks, I appreciated being able to have a profile that was only visible to members I contacted first. I haven’t found an existing online personals site with this feature, so maybe the AdoptHim guys are on to something.

In any event, get a new name. I can’t help but think the site is for male adult babies.

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