Dating Gets Dirty

About Last Night’ Red-Band Trailer: Dating Gets Dirty.

Long before Rob Lowe, James Belushi, Elizabeth Perkins and Megan Mullally were staples of TV comedy, they starred alongside Demi Moore in the 1986 film About Last Night – which is getting a more “colorful” remake starring Think Like a Man cast members Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall, along with Joy Bryant (Parenthood).

The story follows two friends (Hart and Ealy) whose lives are changed when they become involved with two girls who also happen to be friends (Hall and Bryant). Bad advice and hilarity ensue – or does it? Watch the trailer above and decide for yourself.
Clearly this red-band “trailer” is more of a teaser reel for the film – which doesn’t even hit theaters until Valentine’s Day 2014. Both the original film and remake are based on the play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” by famed writer David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross); the ’80s film was directed by Edward Zick (Last Samurai, Love & Other Drugs), while the remake has a pretty solid helmer in the form of Steve Pink, director of Hot Tub Time Machine and writer of films like Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity. Handling the script of the new version is Leslye Headland, who wrote the very divisive femme-comedy Bachlorette, as well as the cult-favored TV series, Terriers.

For their part, Hart, Ealy and Hall have all proven themselves to be entertaining and charasmatic actors, while Bryant is surely a sexy leading lady. Whether or not the overarching story will be entertaining and effective remains to be seen… in about a year’s time.

Category Dating Gets Dirty, Tags

The Ideal Match

San Diego dating service The Ideal Match faces lawsuit.

A dating service that was the target of a Team 10 investigation in 2010 is now facing a new lawsuit.

The Ideal Match dating service was the focus of a Team 10 probe after customers complained to Team 10 that they were not getting what they paid for.Nick Puno is one of three clients that is a part of the new lawsuit. He said he signed up for San Diego and Palm Desert base dating service to find “the one.”

“I was hoping to find, like I said, potential marriage,” said Puno.Puno said the salesperson sold him on their expertise and a patented matchmaking service.”They had a huge cliental base with the qualities I was looking for and it wouldn’t be a problem matching me up,” he said.
Puno paid $2,000 for the service and said he was promised to receive 10 matches.He requested women who were fit, driven, with a degree and good personality. Puno was also looking for women who were good with kids.

Puno said very few of his matches were what he requested. He said one of his first matches brought her father on the date.
“She brought her dad on the date, yes,” said Puno.

Attorney Sean Vent represents Puno and the two other clients named in the lawsuit. He filed a lawsuit against the company in San Diego Superior Court for unfair business practices.
Vent said all three of his clients were misled, and he told Team 10, “The only thing they had in common with the people they were matched with is the genuine feeling of being misled by the company.”Team 10 went to The Ideal Match’s offices in Mission Valley, but an employee told Team 10 investigators to contact the owner.

Bryan Lindahl, vice president of operations for The Ideal Match, told Team 10 over the phone that at least one of the clients in the lawsuit provided good feedback about the service.He showed Team10 a feedback response form where the client requested her membership be put on hold so she could date one of her matches.Lindahl said the plaintiffs were probably just frustrated they didn’t fall in love.

“We never promise that someone is going to fall in love. We can’t do that. We look at a physical, emotional, intellectual level. The last piece of the puzzle is chemistry and we have absolutely zero control over that,” said Lindahl.

Category Great time, Local victim, The Ideal Match, Tags

Status

Dating website info being used in divorces.

People who sign up for dating websites should provide accurate personal data because “lack of honesty could prove costly” in court cases, U.S. lawyers advise.

A recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said 59 percent of the nation’s top divorce attorneys have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence taken from dating websites during the past three years.

Sixty-four percent of respondents said Match.com was the top website cited in online dating website evidence, followed by 9 percent who said eHarmony and 27 percent who listed other choices.

Relationship status was the most common evidence item mentioned at 57 percent, while 15 percent cited salary and occupation and 7 percent said parental status.

“Dating website users can often face temptation to embellish some personal information on profiles, but this lack of honesty could prove costly for someone in the middle of a divorce or child custody case,” Alton Abramowitz, president of the AAML, said in a statement. “Identifying yourself as single when you are not, or listing that you have no children when you are actually a parent, can represent some key pieces of evidence against you during the divorce process.”

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is comprised of the top 1,600 matrimonial attorneys throughout the nation, who are recognized experts in the specialized areas of matrimonial law.No further survey details were provided.

Category New Rules, Online dating, Online dating service, Overseas Business, Perfect happiness, Population, Promote adoption, Status, Tags

Overseas Business

Offaly Tourism on ‘Speed Dating’ workshop to gain Overseas Business.

Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, this week kicked off a series of ‘In Ireland’ workshops in the Greenhills Hotel Limerick.

Tourism business owners, senior managers and marketing executives from Offaly were there to gain an overview of the critical issues to consider and actions to undertake in preparation for attendance at Meitheal – Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair.

‘In Ireland’ events such as Meitheal offer a cost-effective way of marketing Offaly to overseas buyers without ever having to leave Ireland at face to face meetings, a format similar to “speed dating.

Key international buyers from over 20 countries are expected to attend this year’s event in April over two days with almost 17,000 scheduled one to one business meetings taking place with a view to negotiating business for the future.

Dr Dean Panter, Fáilte Ireland’s Client Services/Business Development Manager said:

“The best business is always conducted face to face and Meitheal will be a unique opportunity to show the best of our Offaly tourism product to an international audience and to highlight what we can offer to make the Irish holiday experience a truly memorable one. Meitheal is a valuable opportunity to forge even stronger commercial relations between Irish tourism and the international travel trade. By providing these workshops it is our hope that Offaly’s tourism trade will close deals and generate business for the future.

“Interest in visiting Ireland is growing, and our appeal remains strong as we can now offer better value for money than for many years. There is more potential out there than in previous years and, hopefully, through events such as Meitheal – Irish trade fair, we can tap into this and win our fair share of overseas business for Ireland. This year looks set to be a particularly interesting event as, along with exhibiting the best of Irish, we will also highlight The Gathering 2013.”

Category Great people, Great time, Inexperienced, Local victim, Looked, Lucky, Marketplace, Match, Modern, Overseas Business, Tags

Tracking

Pippa Middleton Reportedly Dating Nico Jackson After Mustique Photos Surface.

Tracking Pippa Middleton’s love life is a full-time job. Just last month, the almost-royal was spotted on a hunting date with Belgian billionaires. Before that, she hopped the pond to cozy up to New York’s Andre Balazs.

Now, it looks like Pips is getting serious with someone. Want proof? She brought him along to meet the family on the now-infamous Middleton Mustique vacation.

The Daily Mail reports that the mystery man snapped holding hands with Pippa on the beach last week is Nico Jackson, a 35-year-old stockbroker, aka a fellow commoner. The British publication got the scoop from a so-called “friend” of Ms. Middleton:

“Nico comes from a totally different background from Pippa’s other boyfriends. But he can run well with the best of them. He is tall, good-looking and has the most amazing piercing blue eyes. He is incredibly charismatic and stands out from the crowd. He is a really good catch. Everyone is after him.”Pippa’s past love interests include banker (and cricket player) Alex Loudon and George Percy, son of the Duke of Northumberland. Obviously, the 29-year-old knows how to pick ‘em. Mr. Jackson isn’t such a stranger to the upper classes either — he dated Alice Farquhar, daughter of Captain Ian Farquhar, for two years. The pair were regulars on the social scene.

So is Nico the one for Pippa? Meeting the parents is pretty promising, but the party-planner has become known as quite the charmer. Perhaps she still has more flirting to do before she finds her prince… Either way, we have to give Pips a big thumbs up for her latest flame. Here’s hoping what happens in Mustique doesn’t stay in Mustique!

Category Communicating, Create and read reviews, Criteria, Dating, Divorced woman, Domestic, Dreams, Emotional, Eventually, Flaunt It, Freelance, Tracking, Tags

Promote adoption

Syracuse doggie speed dating promotes adoption.

One year old Georgia, a spotted black and white bulldog mix, ran back and forth through the lobby of Strong Hearts Cafe, her tail wagging furiously. Georgia was found tied to a tree in Syracuse when she was three months old and has been in puppy foster care ever since.
The Cuse Pit Crew held an event on Sunday outside Strong Hearts Cafe to promote adoption and awareness.. Canine foster groups like Recycle-a-Bull and Loki Girl brought abandoned and homeless dogs to meet with people looking to adopt.

People met with dogs to get to know their temperaments through a “doggie speed dating” process. The event focused on what are known as “bully breeds,” such as pit bulls, Staffordshire terriers, bulldogs, and boxers.
Dogs like “Tiny Tina,” an American bulldog and “professional cuddler,” were brought from various foster care groups to meet with potential parents. The hope was that by getting to know the dogs through a match-making process, people would be able to see that the dogs are friendly and not the “bullies” they are made out to be.

“The bully breeds are a tough sell for people,” said Debbie Rahalski, volunteer and foster parent for Loki Girl.
The event was organized by the Cuse Pit Crew, an advocacy group for bully breeds.
The group also holds programs such as training classes for low income families who own bully breeds and humane education for children in schools, and promotes animal adoption.

According to Stephanie Health Higgins, co-founder of the Cuse Pit Crew, the group is collaborating with Dewitt Animal Hospital in an effort to change the fact that they hospital euthanizes adoptable animals. Of 910 stray dogs picked up by the hospital in 2012, 573 were euthanized.”Ultimately, we really want to see adoption go up and euthanasia go down,” said Higgins.

Category Looked, Match, Promote adoption, Tags

Up All Night

Speed dating adds flair, romance to Up All Night experience.

Whether they were looking for their soul mate or to experience something new, students at West Virginia University had the opportunity to do both last Friday night at the Mountainlair.

WVUp All Night hosted a speed-dating event at 9:30p.m. in the dining area of the Mountainlair, and it was open to all students.
Jackie Riggleman, an advertising student at WVU and employee at WVUp All Night, explained the process of speed dating – Mountaineer style.

“Since it’s Valentine’s Day weekend, we decided to do speed dating for the students,” Riggleman said. “Each round, they get two minutes to talk to the person; after the two minutes are up, the announcer announces the time, then they have 30 seconds to exchange numbers. Then, at the end of that 30 seconds, they have to switch seats.”

Riggleman said they planned to do three rounds – hopefully enough for participants to meet a special someone.
“A lot of people enjoy it; they like having the experience. You know, we are in college, so new experiences are good, and students can be like, ‘Hey, I actually participated in speed dating,’” she said.”It’s definitely a fun experience, and I was very pleased by the amount of people who showed up for the first round.”During the event, the females stayed stationary in their seats, while the males moved around.

Moses Ajemigbitse, a petroleum and natural gas engineering student, came to the event to see what speed dating was all about.”I think everyone is special, but I don’t think I’ll connect with anyone; I am more interested in why people come to speed dating. I have never done it before,” Ajemigbitse said.

Ajemigbitse used the experience as an opportunity to ask strangers an important question, he said.”I’m actually doing an experiment through speed-dating to talk to as many people as I can to see how they think, how they interpret life and actually to find out what they think about a very interesting question – who is Jesus?” he said.Glenn Hess, another speed-dating participant, said he was at the event because he wants to fall in love.

“I may meet my possible soul mate, but then again, I may have many soul mates. It’s hard to say,” he said. “This is just an exciting experience that I think
everyone should try. I think my opportunity of pure love, unrestricted by normal boundaries, is about to happen.”
Shannen Athey, a recreation, parks and tourism resources student, said her experience with speed dating was illuminating.”I have to say, it was a lot of fun. I just did it to find friends. If I run into anyone on campus, I can be like, ‘Hey I saw you the other night and got to know you,’ and it was a great experience,” she said.

But she didn’t walk away empty-handed.
“I did get a phone number. His name’s Tyler, and he’s an accountant; I’m going to text him and see if he wants to unicycle sometime,” Athey said.Take-away items from the event were teddy bears, roses and pictures couples could get taken together in a photo booth.

Category Take marriage, Talking, Timeless, Topic, traditional dating, Up All Night, Tags

New Rules

The New Rules of Online Dating.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, two books reveal the secrets of e-romance. Lizzie Crocker and Abby Haglage on how to flaunt your stuff, game the system, and emerge unscathed. If you’re not already in a relationship, the roses, chocolates, and oversize cards of Valentine’s Day can be a heart-shaped reality check: it’s time to get back in the game.And if you’re one of the 90 million singles in America, you can do it online. Just in time, there’s a whole bunch of new research on the topic, from Amy Webb’s Data, a Love Story, in which the author games the system to find her match, to Dan Slater’s Love in the Time of Algorithms, a naked account of the pluses and pitfalls of online dating.

To save you time (you’ve got a profile to make!), we perused the latest manuals and lovingly present this roadmap to the world of e-romance.

1. Stay Weird (In Other Words, ‘Do You’)

Online dating sites thrive on individuality—specifically, yours. In Algorithms, Slater discusses the shift from the “bookend theory” initially used by pioneer sites like Match (aiming to win over every “book” on the shelf) to the prevailing “niche” dating sites that now dominate the market. With an estimated 15 million users in North America by 2011 alone, niche dating sites have proved triumphantly effective. Not simply because they create “culturally relevant communities,” Slater writes. More importantly, sites like Urbancougar.com and Large and Lovely Connections create “judgment-free zones where the like-minded can mingle freely and furtively.” Convinced you’re a vampire? Same. Living the single-farmer life? So are we. Sci-fi’s your name, geek your game? Ditto.

From goth dating to plus-size, prisoners to gold diggers, these sites revolve around one thing: honesty. Slater contends that it’s partly this trait, the cornerstone of any relationship, that has made the world of online dating so successful. “It doesn’t matter who you are … there is bound to be someone in the cloud of faces who’s interested in whatever it is that you’ve got.”

Category Absolutely, Flaunt It, Freelance, Local victim, New Rules, Tags

Looked

2. Fake It Till You Make It

Online dating takes guts, so the more you have (or can feign), the better you’ll do. In Slater’s book, he sits down with the man many refer to as the Ray Kroc of dating, Ross Williams. Williams, chairman and CEO of Dating Factory—a platform that helps companies to build new dating websites—says the key to online dating begins with recognizing that everyone else you’re interacting with is in the same boat. “We’re all a bit nervous. We’re all a bit shy,” he says. The goal, then, is to rise above the insecurity and present the best version of yourself. It’s not easy. “Some are better actors than others,” Williams admits.

Textbook example: Andrew, a 31-year-old architect bruised from an eight-year relationship that went sour, gained confidence after more than 1,000 women looked at his profile. Mojo restored, he added a witty ultimatum to his OkCupid profile: “Contact me if you can ride a horse.” Sure enough, Jennifer, a 30-year-old horse trainer, sent him a message. After their first date, she asked if Andrew wanted to come see her barn and her apartment. “You had me at barn,” he said. Six months into their relationship, Andrew is proof that a little moxie goes a long way.

Category Looked, Retailers, Take marriage, Tags

Flaunt It

3. If You Got It, Flaunt It

Christian Rudder, co-founder OkCupid, is brutally honest. The cardinal rule of online dating, he says, is to be “really, really hot.” In fairness, “hot” is subjective. But it’s likely you know your own hottest look, so use it. OkTrends, a complementary blog to OkCupid that explores the data of online dating, presents powerful evidence to back up Rudder’s “hot” rule: a woman deemed hot by one study received four times as many messages as an average one—and 25 times as many as an ugly one. Of course, Rudder admits there are more pieces to the puzzle. “The more of your personality you show, the more there is for someone to grab onto and get excited about … Describe yourself in as much quirky detail as possible.” (Match and OkCupid are owned by IAC, the parent company of The Daily Beast.)

To be sure, men put more emphasis on looks. “For them, pictures come first, because they’re so visual, and for good adaptive reason,” says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and Match chief scientific adviser. “For millions of years, a man needed to size up a woman to see if she could give him healthy babies. Women could see if a man was a good hunter, but she had to do more than look to see whether he would hunt for her.”

Category Flaunt It, Local victim, Prospective date, Tags

Prospective date

4. If You Get Stuck, Game the System

To play the field, you’ve got to understand what you’re up against. Webb, author of book Data, a Love Story, is a self-declared expert. After a series of “comically bad” dates, she felt defeated, as though online dating “only made it easier to meet a whole bunch of wrong men, the kind who lied in their profiles or who had major character faults.”

But instead of giving up, she got mathematical. Webb developed a detailed rating system, awarding points for each criterion that a prospective date fulfilled. Then, she crafted 10 distinct online male personae to understand the dos and don’ts of the digital dating game—in this case, that of JDate, which caters to Jewish singles. She switched teams, allowing herself to study her female competitors through the eyes of a man. Webb studied 96 women in all, an experiment that allowed her to unearth “a trove of insights.” Some statistics were less insightful than others—for example, Webb found that half the women she observed used the word “fun” in their opening sentence. But one universal goal of every online dater emerged: to “get offline as quickly as possible.”

In other words, online dating is survival of the fittest. Webb’s takeaway was that you need to “look as good as you can, be relatable to the widest possible audience, and then throw in a memorable point or two that distinguishes you from the rest of the crowd.” Read between the lines: be aggressive.

Category Local victim, Prospective date, Tags

Perfect happiness

5. Beware the Business Scams.

Remember, there’s a reason online dating sites exist, and it’s not to find you true love and perfect happiness. These are businesses designed to make money, and dating sites lose when you take yourself out of the game; ethics can get muddied when users are also paying subscribers. For instance, a new user may receive emails from a site indicating men are interested in her profile when, in fact, no one has even looked at it. Sites like Match benefit from users who aren’t active on the site but still have a profile (think about it, you might be one of them). In online-dating speak, these inactive users are known as “date bait.” Their presence on the site inflates the number of messages sent. It’s a fine line, one that users should continue to question: “What’s fair in love and business?”

6. Get Your Hand Out of the Cookie Jar .

It’s one of the biggest pitfalls Slater warns of in the e-dating field: choice overload. You’re dating five people and sleeping with three of them, until a sixth enters the mix who happens to tickle your fancy more than the others. Then, all at once, your heart literally aches when you don’t see her for, like, a day. You want to spend every waking and sleeping moment with her. As the relationship takes its natural course and dopamine levels come back down to earth, she says something that makes her look different to you. She seems less ideal, more needy, more like that girl—what was her name, Kate?—who gave great hand jobs. Suddenly you find yourself nonchalantly checking your OkCupid profile, and there she is—hand-job girl—along with a thousand of others, just as pretty, just as promising, just as available as when you left.

“Online dating is, at its core, a litany of alternatives,” Slater writes. “And evidence shows that the perception that one has appealing alternatives to a current romantic partner is a strong predictor of low commitment to that partner.”

The key then, is to know when to leave it all behind—the endless databases, the date bait, those “fun” opening sentences—and learn to love the one you’re with.

Category Absolutely, Create and read reviews, Perfect happiness, Tags

Dreams

Our Advice From TV’s Loveliest Ladies.

Sometimes you just need to sit down and channel your inner television character to find the right dating advice.
We thought long and hard on this and we’re 90% certain that this is what our favorite fictional females would say to you if you asked them for dating advice.

Penny from Happy Endings

Look: Dating is rough. I should know. There’s absolutely no surefire way to land a guy or keep him. All you can do is make sure that you always look a-MA-zing every single time you go out. Also, don’t be afraid to tell a little white lie or two to help nab that guy of your dreams. Sure, right now you may not actually like camping. But cuddling in a sleeping bag and staring up at the stars just might change your mind.

Edith from Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey’s Edith and Anthony

Customarily, no — a woman should never chase after men. However, sometimes men need a little nudging… no matter how old they are. Don’t be afraid to put yourself in their way so they notice you. Near their house at tea time? Visit with some news from town (preferably real new and not the made-up variety). See his buggy or car stopped in front of the apothecary? Hop in and make sure your man is feeling well. Most importantly, though: Don’t let him or anyone else tell you he’s not right for you. It’s one thing if he just doesn’t love you, but no other excuse should do. Bonne Chance, friends!

Carrie from Homeland

Find someone who doesn’t judge you and never let them go. So what if they’re a little unstable — how sane are you? And don’t ever be afraid to go with the flow. Sure, it’s not exactly classy to have sex in the backseat of a car. But, we all have needs, right? Go with your heart, follow the whimsy. Just like jazz, life and love are unpredictable. That’s a good thing. Really. Whatever you do, though: Don’t forget to take your medicine.
Carrie from The Carrie Diaries

Carrie Bradshaw

Dating is overwhelming and boys are so unreliable. It’s my opinion that the only truly reliable thing you can count on is fashion. Sure, fashions change all the time. But, if you look carefully you can see the next trend coming from a mile away. I also strongly believe that you should put yourself first. I’m sure as I continue to grow up, I’ll probably really suck at taking my own advice. But right now, I believe you shouldn’t let any boy come between you and your goals (or your gals). Let them fall in line after that. They’ll respect your independence.

Category Absolutely, Advice, Dating, Dreams, Freelance, Modern, Neutral, Timeless, Topic, Tags

Inexperienced

Recognizing Signs of Abusive Dating Among Teenagers.

I wish February had been Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month when I was growing up. I might have realized that in the era before e-mails or cellphones, my boyfriend’s demand that we speak on the telephone every night was unreasonable. I was in college and my life revolved around those phone calls.

At 18, I thought his behavior demonstrated intense love for me. Young and inexperienced, it never occurred to me that he wanted to control me. In my mind, this was love and love always hurts, doesn’t it? All I had to do was listen to a pop song or watch a soap opera to see that a love worth having was often portrayed as painful, or at the very least, something mostly difficult to endure.

My partner’s extreme jealousy was not a sign of love, but a warning — one that many teenagers in dating relationships mistake as caring or even flattery. Domestic abuse among teenagers is a phenomenon not readily understood within an adult framework. And confusing possessiveness with love is among the most common teenage mistakes leading to dating violence.

Category Absolutely, Advice, American woman, Communicating, Create and read reviews, Criteria, Dating, Divorced woman, Domestic, Dreams, Emotional, Eventually, Freelance, Inexperienced, Tags

Domestic

In the past few years, domestic abuse in teenage relationships has been recognized as a public health issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page on its Web site dedicated to underscoring the seriousness of teenage dating violence, which it defines “as the physical, sexual or psychological emotional violence within a dating relationship, as well as stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and may occur between a current or former dating partner.” According to the C.D.C., almost 10 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Add to this the emotional and verbal abuse that can occur in teenage relationships and the rate is even higher.

The hallmark of an abusive teenage relationship is always isolation — an isolation that becomes increasingly unhealthy until it is dangerous. I mistook my own teenage isolation as romantic. I thought I had been singled out as the object of my partner’s affection. Not only did I decline other social invitations, I spent much of my time figuring out how I would pay for train trips down to his college. My schoolwork suffered and I turned down opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities like taking a semester abroad. Instead I went as an exchange student to his college in an unglamorous city. I used to joke that I was majoring in my boyfriend.

Category Domestic, Great people, Great time, Local victim, Lucky, Marketplace, Match, Modern, Neutral, New friends, Online dating, Online dating service, Population, Tags

Emotional

Thirty years later and in a happy marriage, I still remember that time as one that inhibited my physical and emotional growth. When I recently read through the New York City mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence’s Web site on the dangers of teenage dating abuse, I was shocked to realize how much of my development had been disrupted and my confidence shaken by trying to please my boyfriend. My identity became enmeshed with his until I, an English major, thought that his application to medical school represented our future together. He once told me that he resented my lack of direction while at the same time he expected me to bide my time taking care of him. It was also my fault that we weren’t happy as a couple, he said.

I finally broke away from this boy in my senior year. Along the way, I had miraculously collected a supportive group of friends who coaxed me into going out on Saturday nights. After all, it was my last year of college and it was time to enjoy myself. My peers were my salvation.

TeenSafe, a Boston-based program run under the auspices of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, bases its teenage relationship abuse prevention program on those all-important peers. High school students are trained to recognize signs of dating abuse and act as peer counselors. They also learn to make presentations to parents and educators.

Category Emotional, Lucky, Starts, Take marriage, Talking, Timeless, Topic, traditional dating, Uncategorized, Tags

Lucky

Elizabeth Schon Vainer, program director of TeenSafe and Journey to Safety, the group’s response to domestic abuse, says they’ve found that the majority of teenagers would far rather talk to a peer about an abusive relationship than to an adult. Peer influence is also at the core of Start Strong, the largest national initiative aimed at preventing relationship violence and abuse among young people. A number of public health agencies across the country have promoted the program whose mission is to “stop teen dating abuse before it starts by using older teens to educate pre-teens.”

I was lucky in many ways. I didn’t drop out of school, and I didn’t experience the physical abuse that sometimes happens in abusive teen relationships. But I missed opportunities, and I gave up a part of myself for a time, and those are things I don’t want for any teenager. I’m thankful that my daughter and her friends are growing up in a time when there is growing awareness of domestic abuse as a bona fide public health issue. I hope that Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month does for February what Breast Cancer Awareness Month has done for October — that it puts domestic abuse on everyone’s radar and makes our children aware that healthy relationships are paramount to having a fair start in life.

Category Advice, Communicating, Criteria, Eventually, Great people, Lucky, Tags

Criteria

How online dating lost its stigma.

As our lives get busier with work, it seems that love is harder than ever to find. But as our world becomes more digital, online dating is proving to be a useful tool. What’s more, it’s a tool that many are becoming more open about using.

So what can online dating offer? For starters, it’s often easier to approach someone online, and a profile view might aid a decision to meet someone for coffee. Online dating provides the tools for screening, to some extent, before sharing a phone number with a total stranger. To some, that’s preferable to propping up a bar in the search for love. “Everyone’s criteria are laid out – as long as they’re being honest,” says psychotherapist Nikki Green.

Dating site Lovestruck offers a recommendation panel of potential likes, based on recent searches. It’s a bit like Amazon recommending a book. The new version of Lovestruck rolls out next month, and will include live chat features. “A live chat with someone quickly cuts the wheat from the chaff,” says founder Brett Harding. He says about 5 per cent of Lovestruck users marry someone they met on the site.

With a free initial sign-up, the hesitant can browse and “Wink” at other users before committing, but to make real contact, there’s a subscription fee.

As in the British version, only white-collar workers can register. Harding says this is a way of targeting people from similar backgrounds who will hopefully have similar motives. A verification app checks Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

Hong Kong Cupid is available in both English and traditional Chinese. While the site has video and live chat features, the user interface is cluttered and overwhelming. The initial account set-up is easy but requires drop-down questions such as weight, appearance (average, attractive, and so on), and deeper issues like children or relocation will put some users off.

Site run in English, mimics Facebook in that you can add “friends” to your account. Your dating profile will tell you whether you’re popular, based on the number of views, e-mails and chat requests you’ve had.

Zoosk can be used either for free, or under subscription, and is set up almost like a game. Users can buy “coins” to use features like “gifts” (graphics such as flowers and drinks that show in the receiver’s profile). They can pay for a “boost”, placing them higher in search results.

Category Criteria, Local victim, Neutral, Reposition, Retailers, Tags

New friends

For those who simply want to make new friends, flirt and have fun, a simple app may appeal more. Developed by Tencent, the company behind QQ and Tencent Weibo, WeChat is available for both iPhone and Android, in English as well as Chinese. Similar to Whatsapp, added functions include video and the restless can shake the phone to activate the Look Around function and a list of other online users nearby will appear.

Momo is a similar to WeChat, developed in China and available in English as well as simplified Chinese. These chat apps show the trend towards mobile usage, as dating sites also develop good, usable mobile apps.

“Our mobile usage has grown by about 10 per cent, but online remains more stable,” says Harding.

One issue with using proximity and GPS to meet people is what to do next. According to Harding, while GPS options seem fun, Lovestruck employs a default setting of off. “Girls do get stalked,” he says, so caution is recommended.

Co-founder and consultant of Da One da-one.com Renee Wong, says traditional matchmaking services like the ones their company provides offer a more secure, confidential environment than that of online dating.

“Our research shows that online dating is time-consuming and it’s hard to build trust. People also worry about their reputation, if a friend finds out about it,” Wong says. Da One targets those who are looking for marriage, so that all candidates are in a similar position. “Within six months of launching, we already have three couples dating exclusively and thinking about the future. Half of the dates we set up go on second dates.”

Instead of relying on computer matches, they meet with clients personally to understand their needs. “Our candidate base is by referral, so we understand where each candidate comes from,” Wong explains.

While Da One’s personal touch might seem more natural, Harding believes that in the future, online dating experiences will also become more intuitive. “People love serendipity, so there must be a way to pull that into a website function. Imagine using social media sites to see who knows who and suggest friends of friends, like in the outside world,” Harding says.

“Dating is a numbers game, and you should meet as many people as possible,” says Green. “Don’t make any commitments until you know someone enough to make ‘exclusivity’ worthwhile. That takes time.”

Category New friends, Starts, Take marriage, Timeless, Tags

Local victim

Dating violence victim speaks out.

Purple ribbons are placed throughout Downtown Tupelo to recognize Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
One local victim of dating violence talked to us about her experience.
Joni Johnson says the emotional, verbal and physical violence she suffered from her boyfriend of just eight months was so intense that she was forced to move away from her home state of Texas.
Johnson said, “At first I thought he just cared about what I was wearing and things like that. I realized once I couldn’t talk to my friends and family it wasn’t that he cared. He was trying to control every aspect of my life. The violence then started.”
In the middle of the night, Johnson and a friend from here moved her away from Texas.She said at the time she didn’t even realize places like S.A.F.E., Inc., in Tupelo existed to help victims of violence.
Johnson said, “My friend’s mother is actually a volunteer here, and I found out there are places that help. I wanted to be a part of it and help spread the word there are places to go to get that help.”Experts say teenagers and young adults often are embarrassed to tell someone they need help.

It is available to them.
Amelia Parkes with S.A.F.E., Inc., said, “You can talk to a parent, a counselor or a teacher. We have a counselor here they can call and speak with her.”The numbers show females are generally the victims of dating violence but it does affect men.

Parkes said, “A lot of males don’t want to report they’re being abused in a relationship but it does happen.”
Whether male or female, people like Joni Johnson emphasize a loving relationship never includes abuse of any kind.Johnson said, “They want to see you do good and succeed in life. Your whole world shouldn’t revolve around one person.”

Joni is currently pursuing a degree in social work to help those who go through what she was able to leave behind.A domestic abuse awareness run and walk is coming up Saturday, February 16 in Tupelo’s Ballard Park to help bring about more awareness.

Category Great people, Local victim, Marketplace, Match, Tags

Awareness

Teen Dating Violence Awareness.

He loves me. He loves me not. Many of us are familiar with this childlike game of plucking petals from a flower deciding if a guy (or girl) reciprocates the affection you have toward them. As you pluck each petal, you think of all of the wonderful ways in which the other person has displayed their feelings toward you.

However, teenagers often mistake unhealthy behaviors displayed by their significant others as “love.”

Teenagers, just as adults, may have a misconception of what a healthy relationship looks like. Behaviors such as jealousy, neediness, and the overbearing desire to spend time with a partner, often viewed as signs of caring, may be red flags of an abusive relationship.

Dating violence, defined as controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship, occurs in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

In a 2011 study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 13.4 percent of females and 10.7 percent of males in the commonwealth of Virginia reported being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey.

The adolescent stage is a very trying time in life. Along with balancing a demanding academic course load and extracurricular activities, young adults must also deal with body changes and trying to fit in. Adding an unhealthy relationship on top of these obstacles can be overwhelming.

Abusive relationships have significantly negative impact on teenagers. As a result of these unhealthy relationships teens are more likely to pay less attention to academics, have an increased exposure to drugs and alcohol, and a greater likelihood of pregnancy.

With one in three students reporting experiencing some form of abuse and only 33 percent of them telling anyone about the abuse, it is important for our community to create opportunities to talk about the issue of teen dating violence. It is important for teens to know they have the support of their family and community.

They should know that they deserve a partner who treats them with respect and they have the right to set boundaries in their relationships. Teens also have the right to gain an understanding of what “love” is; abusive behavior is not an indication of love.

In 2010 Congress approved February as National Teen Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in an effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen relationships and promote programs that prevent it.

Let’s get to work.

The James House provides support, advocacy and education for people in the Tri-Cities area and surrounding counties affected by sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking, to empower them to become healthy, safe and self-sufficient.

The James House is the proud recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Organizational Management Award and the 2008 Cleveland A. Wright Award from The Cameron Foundation.

Category Awareness, Emotional, Match, Modern, Tags

Great time

10 signs you’re dating a deadbeat.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to ask yourself a few questions about your sweetheart.
I’m very fortunate that the Honeybee and I rarely have a disagreement regarding money. In fact, I can only remember it happening once in more than 16 years of marriage — and it was all due to a silly misunderstanding.
A recent study discussed in The Wall Street Journal affirms the conventional wisdom that money is the most likely point of conflict in a marriage. This is especially true when one spouse tends to be a spender while the other is a saver.
When a married couple have different philosophies regarding the importance of financial responsibility, big problems are likely somewhere down the road. Many times, the solution ends up being a messy and expensive divorce.
Of course, that’s why it’s important to know if your partner is financially compatible with you before you tie the knot.
So, does your current steady have his or her financial act together?If you don’t know, you had better find out — especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner. Just because your flame is spoiling you doesn’t mean that he (or she) can afford it.
True, your lover may seem to be financially well-off, but will he be able to maintain his lifestyle after you get married? And if not, does he possess the discipline required to throttle back on the spending pedal?
Unfortunately, folks who fail to ask those simple questions often end up being led into a financial quagmire.Thankfully, there are warning signs for those who choose to pay attention.
In “Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey,” co-authors Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar offer five indicators that may signal you’re dating a deadbeat. I’ve listed them here, along with a few additional ones of my own.

Category Great time, Online dating, Online dating service, Real, Reposition, Retailers, Starts, Talking, Topic, Tags

Eventually

Column: In online dating, love isn’t a battlefield, it’s a marketplace.

When a Harvard student named Gerry filled out a questionnaire for a new computer dating service in 1965, he was matched with six young women. He went out with two who lived nearby but didn’t contact the others.

One of them — Nancy, an English major at Mount Holyoke — sent him a postcard that read simply: “Dear Gerry, Do you exist?”
That note blossomed into weeks of correspondence and eventually a relationship. Nancy and Gerry married two years later, had a son and eventually divorced.

Their child, Dan Slater, grew up to become a journalist who, in his new book, “Love in the Time of Algorithms,” traces the history of computer-mediated matches, from the clunky system that brought his parents together to the sophisticated models of today’s dating Web sites.

Slater’s parents were ahead of their time; online dating didn’t explode as an industry until the 1990s and only recently shed its social stigma. Now, with about a third of singles dating online, it’s pretty clear that these daters do exist — even if they’re 20 pounds heavier or six years less educated than their profiles suggest.

So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, an updated version of Nancy’s question might be: Are you the best I can get?
I hope daters aren’t directly asking this of their matches. But two new books, Slater’s “Algorithms” and Amy Webb’s “Data, a Love Story,” suggest that succeeding in online dating, whether you’re the Web site making the matches or the person looking for them, is all about staying competitive.

Category Eventually, Real, Retailers, Talking, Timeless, Tags

Marketplace

It’s a tough marketplace out there. If you’re going to compete with these legions of singles, you ought to do some research to understand how your competitors are marketing themselves. And if you’re not a great date, or if the spark of marriage is fading, the Web promises plenty more where you came from.

On the business side of things, if a particular site doesn’t provide an enticing selection of singles and a type of matching that’s unique — such as OkCupid’s match percentages or eHarmony’s arduous screening process — daters will quickly move on.

Slater explains how competition affects dating on a macro level — how, for example, online dating companies market themselves and their algorithms to attract different kinds of daters. He delves into the world of niche sites, illustrating that, whether you’re an inmate, in the military or treating your sexually transmitted disease, there’s probably a site specifically for you — such as Meet-An-Inmate, MilitaryCupid or PositiveSingles. Locals, take note: The biggest market for the site Ashley Madison (slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”) is Washington.

But are these sites helping us settle down or keeping us uncommitted? The growth of sites promising to help you find The One, Slater reports, can make it harder for people to get into — and stay in — relationships. Think about it: Dating sites woo users by convincing them that their databases hold thousands of desirable people, and that courtship of the customer has a flip side, a tendency to make us wonder, “Hey, can I do better?”

Slater speaks with a young man in Portland, Ore., who met his girlfriend on Match.com and confesses that he’s “95 percent certain that if I’d met Rachel offline, and if I’d never done online dating, I would’ve married her.” He adds: “When I sensed the breakup coming, I was okay with it. . . . I was eager to see what else was out there.”

Another dater, whose OkCupid travails in New York are interspersed throughout the book, ends up in a relationship with someone she really likes, yet she sometimes finds herself “itching” to get online and browse through potential boyfriends. “The thought/fear/curiosity of someone better around the corner is always there, Internet or not, especially when you live in a big city.”

Category Marketplace, Neutral, Online dating service, Population, Real, Tags

Neutral

However, Erika Ettin, an online dating consultant based in Washington, doesn’t think the Web threatens our relationships. “If someone is inclined to settle down,” she told me, “they won’t be logging on to see what’s out there.”

Although he’s one of computerized dating’s first poster children, Slater stays almost gratingly neutral on it. Is there a conflict of interest between sites that want us to keep paying dues and customers who want to pair up and log off? Will our willingness to share every last detail of our lives on Facebook and Twitter lead to online dating profiles that are less anonymous, with real names rather than screen names attached? Slater poses fascinating questions about how online dating is transforming our pursuit of love, sex and commitment, but he lets only his sources answer them. I often found myself thinking: Smart question, but what do you, son of Gerry and Nancy, think?

Webb, on the other hand, has very strong conclusions about online dating. Her success story is a little un­or­tho­dox — and since it’s been all over Web and print media in the past month, you may be familiar with it.

After more than a dozen bad dates — which she catalogues in detailed spreadsheets tallying the men’s high-fives, stupid sexual remarks, misused vocabulary words and other offenses — Webb sits down and lists the 72 attributes she’s looking for in a mate.

Some are broad (smart, funny, successful); others are laughably specific (“must weigh at least twenty pounds more than me at all times,” “likes jazz only from the 1920s to the late 1940s” and “appreciates the beauty of a well-crafted spreadsheet”). It makes you wonder if Webb’s real soul mate might not be a man but Excel.

After figuring out just who she’s seeking, Webb rejoins JDate, the Jewish dating site, as a man — creating 10 male profiles that she would want to date, with stock images and character sketches so elaborate you’d think she were outlining a novel. For example, we learn from the spreadsheet she makes for LawMan2346 that he and his younger brother, Mark, “didn’t get along great as kids, but they’re best friends now. Mark is the total opposite of him — plays sports, drinks beer. Typical man’s man kind of guy.”

But she’s not Catfishing, she’s doing opposition research. For a month, she corresponds with 96 female JDaters through these fake profiles, never meeting these women but interacting just enough to collect data (more spreadsheets!) on how they present themselves. Then, she can mimic them and hopefully snag a better catch.

Category Freelance, Great people, Match, Modern, Neutral, Online dating, Online dating service, Population, Real, Reposition, Retailers, Romantic, Starts, Take marriage, Talking, Timeless, Topic, traditional dating, Uncategorized, Tags

Starts

“My goal in this experiment wasn’t just to observe other women on JDate. It was to understand them deeply enough so I could model their behavior,” Webb writes. “I didn’t want to try to hide who I was or to pretend to be someone else — I just needed to learn from the masters and present the best possible version of myself online.”

Her retooled profile has more relaxed and revealing photos. She swaps out the resume-speak — earlier, she referred to herself as a “future thinker” who adapts “current and emerging technologies for use in communications” — for language that’s fun, sassy and a little generic: “My friends would describe me as an outgoing and social world traveler, who’s equally comfortable in blue jeans and little black dresses. I’d say they’re right.”

Then she starts to score the men with whom she interacts on the site, giving them points based on how many of those 72 attributes they possess. As a journalist turned management consultant, she writes that “data was what I knew. It wasn’t emotional.”

Spoiler alert: Adhering to her self-tailored algorithm, Webb meets her future husband.

The story of her journey certainly sells well in a big-data, Nate Silver world. But I’m not sure she needed to “hack the haystack,” as she puts it, to find her soul mate. A little self-awareness, and some editing help from a trusted friend or two, might have helped her mold that “future thinker” into a more desirable dater without spending a month stalking the competition.

Additionally, her belief that women should barely mention their jobs in their profiles — it isn’t LinkedIn, after all — will be tough for Washingtonians to swallow. Still, Webb’s willingness to expose how she transformed from clueless to keyed-in shows just how manufactured and unnatural it can feel to look for a mate the way we shop for shoes or electronics.

Competition has always been part of the mating game, says Glenn Geher, a psychology professor and co-author of “Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love.” But in online dating, “the bar is much higher,” he says, than when first impressions are forged in real life.

“Deception detection” is heightened, Geher says, when people meet online. Everyone is putting forth a polished, aspirational version of themselves, pushing daters to think: “I have to dig deep to find out what this person is really like.”

In that context, Webb’s instincts, while a little creepy, make perfect sense.

Category Absolutely, Advice, American woman, Communicating, Dating, Divorced woman, Starts, Tags

Create and read reviews

Lulu, the girls-only mobile app, has launched across the U.S. this week after a success invitation-only period at Florida State University and the University of Florida. In the trial month at the universities, over 60,000 female students downloaded the app. The iOS and Android app for “dating intelligence” enables girls to create and read reviews and recommendations of guys they know.

Described as “the first database of men, built by women, for women,” Lulu shows numerical scores across a number of categories such as appearance, humor, manners, ambition, first kiss, sex, and commitment. Girls can choose a photo of a guy and add his name to the database along with hashtags so other girls can see what’s good about him and what to watch out for.
Lulu is committed to providing a secure platform for its female users. Girls register via their Facebook accounts but Lulu never posts to the social network and users are anonymous on Lulu. CEO and founder Alexandra Chong said:

My vision has always been to create a discreet, private space for girls to talk about the most important issues in their lives: their relationships. We provide the essential intelligence about the guy who is both #SweetToMom and #BelievesInLove and yet may also be #RudeToWaiters and #CrazyJealous. This is the stuff you need to know when you’re checking out a guy in Econ 101, at a party, or even on a dating site. Lulu puts the girls in control.

While the app could help a girl avoid a bad date, could it have potentially harmful effects on a guy’s reputation? Girls aren’t known for being particularly level-headed after a bad breakup, which translated into a review, could skew other girls’ opinions of the guy.

Category American woman, Communicating, Create and read reviews, Tags

Online dating service

It’s Not Just a Mouse That Has to Click.

It was a Saturday night in early February when I first checked out YanikaBrides.com, the online dating service my ex-husband used to find his partner, eight years after our divorce. “Try it,” he said. “Just stay vague in describing yourself, like ‘I am a professional East Side woman.’ ”

I was 31 when I married my first husband. Much has changed in 15 years, including the advent of online dating. This time, I was looking for a mature middle-aged man. Would online matchmaking rub against my quiet, contemplative nature?

Like the Humane Society,YanikaBrides.com allowed me to skim its site free, look at photos and read short descriptions of each entry. I had been clicking my mouse for 10 minutes when a guy who reminded me of my brother caught my eye.

This made sense. Research tells us that as we age, we are more strongly drawn to familial looks. Youth wants adventure while age wants comfort. I was in the middle: a guy with whom I was comfortable having adventures would be ideal.

His username was “earthyman.” I pictured a smart, kind, family man: a guy who looked sexy in worn jeans; grilled out with neighbors; and drove a battery-operated car on camping trips. All from a photo and a username.

Category Online dating service, Tags

Freelance

Should I write him? A hopeful inner voice said “Yes.”
To do so required that I take on a particularly tough freelance writing assignment: a personal ad. I had never backed down from an assignment and wasn’t about to begin now. The first stage was solid research, checking out how men and women described themselves online.
The men wrote simple, declarative sentences like “I like to laugh” and “I like food.” One loved summer. Another loved fall. But they didn’t explore the issue. It was headlines only.

What was the rest of the story? I like fall because the crisp dry weather makes me feel energetic? I like fall because the first frost puts an end to my seasonal allergies? I like fall because I find it easier to hide the corpses under the freshly fallen leaves?

Many of the men put their friends up to the mic to speak on their behalf. Not surprisingly, the friends gushed that their pal was trustworthy, confident, caring, zesty, considerate, interesting, sexy.
I didn’t care what the friends had to say. I wanted to hear from the ex-wives. And the doctors. I wanted LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels, because I wasn’t hooking up with anyone whose arteries were so choked with plaque that he was going to code out on me in five years.
Was I hopelessly Neanderthal in thinking that spelling still mattered?

Many of the ads had not been proofread and were riddled with typos and grammatical errors: “beleive” instead of “believe,” “doe’s” instead of “does,” “gotee” instead of “goatee.” The capitalization seemed random and nonsensical: “I am Relaxed but Playful” and “I am an agent of the LORD.”
I wasn’t sold. Why give up a perfectly good Saturday night with my dog to meet a sexy, fall-loving agent of the LORD at a coffee shop four towns away (so he wouldn’t know where I lived, stalk me, kill me and arrange my body in his trademark ritualistic pose) and who doesn’t know to drop the “e” before adding “ing” in his taunting notes to the police as they investigate my murder?

I moved on to the next phase of my research: sizing up the competition. On Match.com’s home page, I typed that I was a man seeking a woman and waited for results. The personal ads of women filled the screen and my heart sank as I read them, because the women at Match.com all claimed to be “positive,” “happy,” “fun” people who “enjoy life to its fullest.”
I couldn’t compete with that.Or could I?

Category Freelance, Tags

Divorced woman

Unlike most women posting ads, I was a professional writer, comfortable in this communication method. I could create a typo-free ad that was honest and more meaningful than those of my competitors. The right man (one who wanted to share deep thoughts more than simple-minded fun) would notice, I told myself.

I wrote a first draft: “Divorced woman, 46. One child, one dog. I don’t consider myself fun in the extroverted sense, but I enjoy the company of those who are. To a point. Friends and family suggest I am too goal oriented. Other bad traits include a hurried attitude and a mild compulsion to arrange magazines at right angles on my coffee table. There are probably more of which I am not aware, as I have lived without adult supervision and behavioral editing for eight years.”

I read it aloud and knew this was one writing assignment for which I was particularly unqualified. I began to edit. When I was done, I was left with: “Quiet, 46-year-old divorced woman, one dog, one child, excellent proofreader.”

For a moment, I balked; dating at 46 scared me. But the idea of being 64 and ritualistically arranging my magazines at 90-degree angles for my dog scared me more.

At 7 p.m. on a Saturday, I phoned my friend Kristina, who told me to come over immediately so she could edit my ad. At 8 p.m., with Kristina’s help, I became a member of the eHarmony community of middle-aged daters.

Category Divorced woman, Tags

Match

The free site started by showing photos of several happy couples who had met through its service. A 60ish-looking woman had her arms around a 60ish-looking man, as if to show she could not believe she had found her true love at this stage of life. It was a sweet photo, and I wondered how long they would enjoy the good times before he suffered his first transient ischemic attack or had a diagnosis of cancer and she became his caregiver.

“You deserve a great guy,” Kristina told me on her front porch as I prepared to leave. “You’re going to do this, right?”
I promised I would even though dating in my 40s was beginning to remind me of eating spinach in elementary school. Others insisted it was good for me, but I found it fairly nauseating.

I stayed at the table. Like a skilled dinner party hostess,site introduced the men and women to one another. Within hours, they sent me an e-mail informing me that Jeff and I would be a good match and encouraging us to start communicating. The e-mail read as follows:
“Dear Carolyn and Jeff,
“Site Compatibility Matching System has found that you two are a highly compatible match, based on our rigorous 29 Dimensions scale.

“With this level of compatibility, we believe you two will have a lot to talk about and may even find true love together.

“Remember, your match has been carefully selected from millions of candidates because you share extraordinary levels of compatibility in the areas proven to create relationship success. So we encourage you to consider this match with care and find out what lies beyond your summary profiles.

Category Match, Tags

Communicating

“The next step is simple — just begin communicating today!”

It took only hours to discover that Jeff wanted sex with beautiful, clean women. His “10 Must Haves” included: “I must have a partner who is considered very attractive by most current standards” and “I must have someone who is mature and experienced as a potential sexual partner and is able to express himself/herself freely.”
Under “Can’t Stands,” he checked, “I can’t stand someone who is not clean.”
IN the end, I met Alex the old-fashioned way: through mutual friends in Milwaukee. Friends who knew I was quiet, goal-oriented and overly critical. Friends who knew Alex to be thoughtful, brilliant, politically astute and uncompromising.

He lived far away (258 miles), and while we both had tried eHarmony, we had checked off that a match must live nearby.
Our first date, to a documentary movie and coffee, was calm, thoughtful and, dare I say, fun. On our second date, Alex revealed a trait (smoking) that I would have considered a deal breaker on a computerized checklist. I didn’t criticize.
On our third date, we proofread signage at a mall equidistant from our houses. Alex would later say that he knew proofreading was the way to my heart.

We were married the next year, which was when he fully realized, very much to his discontent, that I chattered over breakfast. He pretty much hates that trait in me. But many mornings he compromises, an indication that the whole story of compatibility is more than the sum of our descriptors.

I hope online dating never replaces one of the oldest professions in the world: in-person matchmaking. No computerized program can beat the intuition and good intentions of friends who are willing to introduce two middle-aged singles, step back and let them figure out if they “share extraordinary levels of compatibility in areas proven to create relationship success.”

In other words, if they can fall in love.
Carolyn Bucior lives in Milwaukee. She recently completed a memoir about being a single parent.

Category Communicating, Tags

Advice

Bullish Life:Is Dating Dead?

Jennifer Dziura writes life coaching advice weekly here on TheGloss, and career coaching advice Fridays on TheGrindstone.

Apparently, dating is dead. Except that I’ve been on hundreds of dates, and so have many of you.

It’s kind of like saying that sushi is dead. I mean, a lot of people don’t eat sushi. But you can still totally get some if you want.

Last week, I wrote Bullish Life: Hanging Out With People In Real Life Is Now Like Herding Cats. Cats That Suck. The in-person meetup is not what it used to be.

And a couple of weeks ago, Bullish Life: When Guys Just Want to Be Friends, I talked about meeting Rebecca Wiegand of WTF is Up With My Love Life? and being horrified at the post-dating world she described (one in which spineless man-boys send you late-night texts and you’re supposed to be grateful for the attention!)

I’ve since followed up with Rebecca and Jessica Massa, author of The Gaggle: How to Find Love in a Post-Dating World, both of whom tell me that my categorization of the post-dating world is unfair. Let’s get right into it.

Rebecca and Jessica, you conducted a funeral for dating. So, you pretty much think it’s dead. But dead for who? Everyone under 30? Urban people under 30? Urban, college-educated people under 30?

Category Advice, Tags

Traditional dating

Dating is dead for anyone who is trying to find love these days. Whether you’re 18 or 29 or 55, you may go on dates from time to time, but that is now just one very small piece of the puzzle that makes up your love life. So if you’re thinking of your love life only in terms of traditional dating, then you’re shutting your brain and emotions off from the multitude of ambiguous-but-still-exciting romantic possibilities that are actually surrounding you in this post-dating world at all times every day.

Maybe you have a date on Friday night. Great! But we ask, what are you doing the other six days and nights of the week? You’re probably non-dating. And once you stop stressing over dating and start opening your eyes to the post-dating world, you realize that those non-dates are just as rife with romantic possibility as that Friday night “date” is.

People are connecting and failing in love via an extraordinary variety of unexpected and untraditional means these days, all over the country, in every age group.

Okay, so, if dating is kaput, what are people doing instead? What are these “untraditional means”? I’m imagining Harold and Kumar texting you at 10:30pm asking if you want to “hang out,” which at best means an offer of weed in exchange for sex. I think you should ignore those offers (unless you like weed and no-strings-attached sex, in which case, no judgments!) Are you trying to tell me that there are men who don’t want to go on dates (even if you split the expenses) who are actually worth spending time with, or is this as bad as it sounds?

Category traditional dating, Tags

Absolutely

Yes! Absolutely. We as women have to stop judging the quality of men based on whether they’ve asked us on a nice, Rules-approved date or not. In fact, we’ve had the nicest, most wonderful guys tell us that the guy who asks you on the perfect date and wines and dines you like a pro is probably the last guy you actually want to be dating – because, well, he’s a pro.

(Jen here: Okay, I see your point – a guy who’s really, really smooth at dating could be someone to avoid. Or he could just be someone who practices things and improves at them, which I recommend!)

Often that funny guy on your soccer team, or that supportive co-worker, or that friend-of-a-friend who keeps commenting on your Facebook status is at least as good a catch, and at least as “into you,” as that guy who is super forward with his traditional date offers.

Instead of dating, women and men are now exploring the promising connections in their lives by ambiguously cultivating their own gaggle of romantic prospects, crushes and ego boosting entanglements. And yes, guys are living in this same confusing post-dating morass as we girls are, and are experimenting with how to approach and connect with the many types of women who are coming into their lives. When a guy meets a girl who he thinks is out of his league, or forms a solid friendship with the cute girl in his office, or bumps into his old college pal and realizes that she’s gotten really hot, he now has the option of avoiding rejection and testing the waters in any number of ambiguous ways. He might Facebook friend request her, or text her on a Saturday night to see if their groups of friends want to meet up, or send her long, thoughtful emails to establish some common ground. Girls have to realize that these overtures are just as legitimate as dates. Modern men are still great. They’re just a little confused by us modern ladies and are avoiding outright rejection whenever they see that opportunity.

FYI, Harold & Kumar sound like the Super Horny Guys in your gaggle. We recommend NOT hooking up with them – but we think you should enjoy their company and appreciate the fact that they are men who find you attractive!

Category Absolutely, Tags

Talking

OK, let’s talk about these guys who don’t want to go on dates. Now, first off, I’m not talking about guys who are broke. They should ask you on a date at their place at which they make spaghetti, or to a free thing helpfully listed in the Free section of Time Out New York; many such free daytime events have food carts that sell food for $5. I’m talking about guys who, despite being able to afford going on dates, refuse to commit to calling something a “date.” (They usually also refuse to plan anything with you more than a day in advance.) If you are looking for an actual boyfriend, or the love of your life, I think you should run away from this as fast as possible. I mean, I need (and have!) a man who will agree NOW to drive me home from chemotherapy in 20 years, should I need it, and who I can trust with a joint checking account; I really have no patience for some dude who texts, “let’s hang sometime, i’ll text u.”

If some guy isn’t treating you the way you wish he would, then kick him out of your life (and your gaggle). Who needs constant disappointment? Don’t waste your time.

That said, whether a guy is willing to take you on a date is NOT a reliable metric of his character or where the connection between you two one day could lead. If you ax every guy out of your life who doesn’t take you on a traditional date right off the bat, then you are severely limiting your options in today’s ambiguous, tech-infused world. And besides, we’ve met tons of couples through this project who didn’t realize that their first “date” was actually a date until long afterwards. Couples who wandered around a park eating ice cream on a whim, or sat together day after day in their corporate cafeteria, or met at a bar and got drunk and made out, and only years later could say “I guess that was our first date!” If someone wants to talk to you and spend time with you, regardless of the exact terms, you should see that as a good thing.

Instead of looking at each guy and asking “has he taken me on a date yet,” the key is to look at him on his own individual terms and think: what role is this guy playing in my life? What do I like and/or appreciate about him? What are his downsides? How can we cultivate and expand on our connection? Taking away the weight of traditional dating expectations and focusing on the core connection can absolutely bring you a guy who will be there through all the chemo and checking account issues down the line.

Category Talking, Tags

Dating

Is this just a New York thing? Dating-wise, New York is a notoriously bad place for women. The population of college grads who move here is (obviously) self-selecting and contains many more women than men. A lot of ambitious men who move here are concentrated in finance, so if you’re in NYC and employed in an artsy or cultural field (and I’m not even talking about ladyblogs or publishing), you can absolutely live in a world FULL of beautiful, fashionable, successful young women who cannot get a date. But if any one of those women moved to Seattle or Portland or Indianapolis, she’d probably get a lot of dates, right? Or are you arguing that this is a national (nay, global!) phenomenon?

It’s nationwide! We had that same question, so Jess hit the road for a year and traveled all over the country to do interviews for The Gaggle book and find out what was going on in other big cities (e.g. Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Houston, etc.) and smaller areas (Louisville, Baton Rouge, Boulder, Green Bay, etc.). Everywhere we went, we heard the same story – women weren’t going on dates as much as they thought they should be, and blissfully happy couples were connecting and falling in love via untraditional means.

The roots of this post-dating world are much more based in generational changes than in location. We’ve found that, whether you’re living in Maine or Texas or Colorado or Wisconsin, your love life has been fundamentally impacted by technology, shifting gender roles and evolving romantic expectations about how love and connection should look and feel. The sooner you can own that, and not be scared by it, the sooner you can find real love.

Category Dating, Tags

Online dating

As you know, I met my fiance on site. Online dating kind of demands …. dating. Isn’t that a way to circumvent the “dating is dead” paradigm? If you meet someone on an online dating site, you usually go on a date with them, no? In fact, usually guys put some effort into talking you into going on that first date. Like, you trade 5 or 10 or 20 messages, and the guy says, “Let’s take this offline. Drinks?” or even, “I hope I’ve [by typing so much that my man-fingers tire of this tiny keyboard] earned an in-person meeting with you.” It’s a little bit old-fashioned, even.

A lot of people pursue online dating because they are craving the supposed clarity that comes with overt and more traditionally minded dating culture. They’re confused by the weirdness of the post-dating world, and they’re not sure what to do about it, so…might as well make an online dating profile! So yes, in many ways, online dating is the last bastion of actual dating. It’s actually funny, that online dating has now become one of the most traditional paths you can pursue.

However, even online dating sites are starting to realize that connection often arises from less strategic, algorithm-defined opportunities. More and more of these sites are throwing off-line events that feature a more spontaneous, “who knows who you’ll meet tonight!” feel (as explained in this recent NY Times article). So even the last bastion of dating – the online world – is realizing that traditional dates and expectations and checklists are often not the best way to foster authentic, exciting connection these days.

Becky here – I also met my boyfriend on an online dating site. He messaged me. I took one look at his message and profile and decided not to write him back because there were “dealbreakers.” Then I thought about the rest of my gaggle, which was at its height at the time, and I realized that a lot of guys I connected with in real life actually had a lot of similar qualities to this man. I decided I should at least write him back. A year of blissful, unbelievable happiness later, it drives me crazy thinking that if I hadn’t had the gaggle mindset I NEVER would have met this man who is so wonderful for me. That’s why we support online dating, but say that it has to be just one PART of your ongoing, 24/7, online and offline love life.

Category Online dating, Tags

Great people

As you were talking about all these great younger guys who avoid rejection by making contact on Facebook, I’m kind of thinking — well, they might be great people. The kinds of guys I’d like as friends. But as a romantic partner? I, personally, want someone who is part of the same system of rules and expectations that I am a part of. And obviously that doesn’t work for everyone (most obviously, for same-sex couples, for instance). I feel like a guy who asks you on a traditional first date is also a guy who’s just going to understand (without being painfully told) that, after a year and a half or two years, he should be thinking about proposing, or he can expect that you will extricate yourself from a relationship that’s going nowhere. Obviously, plenty of women do NOT want that and would find such a man’s traditionalism trite, oppressive, etc. But I’m feeling like the form of dating/non-dating you first engage in will likely set the tone for the rest of the relationship.

If you start (non)dating someone in a sort of free-form, casual way, you really can’t expect that guy to transform into a man who performs too many other of the traditional gender roles, right? I’m not for or against this for other people — just an observation.

Totally understand your point! That said, we believe that even if you want the traditional romantic endgoals – the suitably-timed proposal, the marriage, the kids, the growing old together – then you are hurting your chances of finding them by limiting your prospects to only men who ask you out on a “date” in a traditional way, with a particular plan in mind. This is because, increasingly in our crazy post-dating world, both men and women seem to not really KNOW what they want, until it’s right in front of them. We blame this on the confusing societal messages that men and women are constantly receiving about all these romantic traditions and expectations. But just because a guy might not immediately approach you like he wants to marry you, doesn’t mean your connection won’t eventually move in that direction and he’ll be just as present and committed as that guy who’s been picturing his kids’ faces for the past five years. He might just be taking a different path to get there, and for the moment, he might just be more focused on connection than on some sort of later goal.

Category Great people, Tags

Take marriage

For example, let’s take marriage. This is Jess – I met many married men during my interviews who, at some point, hadn’t thought they’d ever want to get married. Maybe their parents had a horrible relationship, or they’d watched all the sitcoms that made marriage look like boredom and drudgery, or they just couldn’t imagine wanting to spend their lives (and let’s be honest, have sex) with only one other person.

But then, they would meet their future wife and think she was really great. That doesn’t mean they would suddenly become traditional suitors, asking her out on dates and preparing timelines of marriage and kids. Usually, they would just focus on their connection and enjoy their relationship, in whatever ambiguous ways made sense. Often while still declaring “I don’t believe in marriage!”

[Jen here: OMG! If you want to get married, do not get to the taking-off-clothes point with someone who declares he doesn’t believe in marriage! This makes it look like you don’t know what you want at all and can't stand up for yourself. This is classic self-destructive wishful thinking. See Bullish Life: 3 Romantic Mistakes That Young Women Make That Cause Weeping Among The Angels And Kittens.]

And then, eventually, they would realize that marriage could be shaped to look however made sense for them as a couple, and that it was really about lifelong love and commitment, as opposed to fulfilling a set of expectations or rules. And they would propose, and get married, and that woman would get the guy of her dreams. But if she’d dismissed him at first for not being super excited to travel the traditional path ASAP, then she would’ve missed out.

[Jen here: For every lady with that happy love story there have to be a dozen other women for whom that guy never changed his mind. Reporting bias alert! Reporting bias alert! And you’d have only yourself to blame if your boyfriend who said he didn’t believe in marriage continued to not believe in it.]

Category Take marriage, Tags

Romantic

Romantic norms are changing, both in and out of relationships, and we would all benefit from realizing that we might not be exactly sure what type of connection, relationship and LIFE we really want. The more we’re open to all the possibilities – and all the guys we’re meeting – the more we can find the right fit for us. That still might end up looking very traditional. Or it might not. We think it’s best to open up those options and just see what happens.

Do you think this has something to do with how many people of our generation have divorced parents? Like, our parents couldn’t commit, so we won’t even commit to dating? My parents have been married since 1976, my fiance’s parents have been married much longer, and I feel like there’s a shared cultural capital that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Of course, there are also many people who suffered through their parents’ painful divorce and are determined to do better. Thoughts?

Yes! And even more than that – we think it has a lot to do with how people feel about their parents’ relationships even when they’re still married. On the interview tour, we were shocked by how many people with “happily married” parents STILL didn’t want those relationships, and were unimpressed with marriage on the basis of what they’d seen from their parents. Very few people who we interviewed said that they wanted to replicate their parents’ marriages, still together or not.

But again, that doesn’t have to equal a romantic doomsday. We met many married couples where one or both people came from very negative family situations – divorces, cheating, multiple spouses, bitterness, etc. They often thought they “didn’t want to get married” because of what they’d seen. They didn’t believe in the institution. But then that often changed when they finally found someone who they wanted to build a life with – and instead, they’d just set out to not repeat their parents’ patterns, and to build something new entirely.

But, these people were never setting out to “date” at first, with the purpose of finding a partner and eventually getting married. Because they didn’t think they wanted that! But by opening themselves up to people and to possibilities that they hadn’t expected, their lives took a different path and they actually ended up married. That’s why we say that we can’t all set out assuming that we know exactly who and what we want. We need to experiment a bit – with our gaggles, and on non-dates, as well as in more traditional settings – and find out.

Category Romantic, Tags

Topic

Thanks, Jessica and Rebecca!

You know, Jessica and Rebecca and I have been going back and forth about this topic for a couple of weeks, and I was thinking about why I care so much. Part of it is that I hate to think that women in my age group nabbed the very last crop of men who know how to go on a goddamn date, which really isn’t that complicated. I hate to think of options closing off for young women.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that last month in the Atlantic, Hanna Rosin wrote that hookup culture was actually good for young women. Clearly, it serves a purpose for many ambitious twentysomethings. In Bullish Life: Should You Slow Down Your Career for a Guy?, I answered a question from a young woman wanting to put her needy boyfriend on a bit of a back burner. Most of us have different dating priorities in our twenties than in our thirties.

But also, I hate to think of a world in which making an effort, romantically, is no longer a thing.Making an effort is my favorite quality in a man.If you’ve ever rejected a man for “trying too hard,” well, you really should have introduced him to me. I love men who try hard. (I find it hilarious that “tryhard” is a hipster insult. Why did the hipster burn his mouth on his coffee?He drank it way before it was cool.Ba-dump-bump.)

Why am I such a staunch defender of The Date? I believe that good behavior and concerted effort are much more important than “being real.” As I have often expressed (here and here, for instance), I’m okay with fakeness. No one was born knowing how to shake hands at a job interview and send a thank-you email later. That’s totally fake behavior, and it’s also correct and basically mandatory.

Category Topic, Tags

Timeless

Milan Fashion Week: Jil Sander spring/summer 2013.

Jil Sander illustrates her timeless talent with her hotly anticipated return to her eponymous label.
Hard to say who was the more nervous: Jil Sander or her audience, who retain a strong affection for the woman who was the first to apply the minimalist codes of the Japanese wave to the needs of a 90′s woman, making them wearable, streamlined and even sensuous.The quietly spoken Hamburger gave working women a template that was pared back, understated and masculine in inspiration, but womanly in execution – the Phoebe Philo-at-Celine of her day, but without the accessories, which weren’t such a big deal back then. Sander paved the way for Helmut Lang and, it’s fair to say, Raf Simons, who took over when she left her own house for the second time in 2004. Eight years is a long time to be away from fashion, away from the algorithyms of its cults and fads.

Of course she wasn’t entirely absent. From 2009-11 she brought her rigorous cutting and colour palatte to Uniqlo. Fashion editors swooned. The public…well it was always hard to get a handle on how much of it sold at full price. Anecdotally, there often seemed to be plenty left in the sales.

So could this 69-year-old woman, returning to her label for the third time, possibly be a worthy successor to fashion’s current darling, Simons? Haven’t women’s requirements for every day changed beyond recognition since her high water mark in the mid 90s?

Before the show began, there was a palpable sense of expecations being managed, of antipations being primed for disappointment. Then came the first look: a russet-brown, V-necked, sleeveless wool pinafore with a slightly tulip shaped skirt cut from below the bust, over a white sleeveless shirt; deceptively simple, confident and to the point. A good start, it was rapidly followed by a succession of loose cotton and wool mix dresses and jackets, some with wide, raglan sleeves. Waists were marked, rather than cinched, and cut high. And while embellishments were confined to the saucer sized plastic spots on white, V-necked ‘cocktail’ dresses, nothing felt austere. Partly this was thanks the slouchy cut and the side pockets that came with many of the clothes (showier flap pockets were just that: for show) and the way A-line tops were designed to flare over the tops of waistbands. Skirts were either skinny or fuller, with inverted kick pleats. Her colour mixes – white, navy, orange and that russet-brown – sound simple enough, but like the controlled voluminousness of her silhouettes were extremely sophisticated.

Category Timeless, Tags

Real

You know what happens when everybody’s “real”? We don’t say please and thank you. We forget people’s birthdays and then get angry at other people for forgetting ours, because selfishness is actually pretty “real.” If you’d been being “real” since birth — instead of being taught by your parents to act appropriately, in ways that were totally not genuine to three-year-old you — you’d just be a monkey flinging shit at other monkeys. Men who rub their dick against you on the subway are acting authentically. I assure you that that’s how they really feel.

I’d prefer we all behave ourselves.

Personally, I’ve found that it’s easy to end up on proper dates because I don’t “hang out” at all. If I want to spend time with a friend, I want 100% of the friend’s attention. I think the depth and quality of a conversation are generally inversely proportional to the number of people participating in it. (Exhibit A: Panel discussions.) So, if a guy wanted to get to know me, he’d really have to get on my schedule. He’s not going to run into me around town. I am never “around town.”

Here in Bullish-land, I try not to tell people what they should want. I just want to make it really clear which things will lead to the things you want and which things won’t.

As dating (or non-dating) goes, I think you set the precedent -–if a guy is used to enjoying your company without having to make an effort, why’s he going to want to suddenly start acting all different? If you don’t like tryhards, then that’s for you! If you want a guy to try hard, well … the way it starts is probably the way it will keep going. So however you want it to end up, you should make sure it starts that way.

Category Real, Tags

Modern

The only time Sander almost dropped the baton was with a series of long sleeveless waistcoats, worn over cropped trousers – an obvious nod to last season’s Prada. But she’s hardly the first designer to borrow from Miuccia. High cut, square toed bi-coloured boots and small cross-body bags helped this collection look not just contemporary, but in some ways, ahead of much of the competition. There was never any question that Sander knows how to cut clothes that remain current long after their season, and reveal their interesting details and quirks gradually and subtly. One of her long term PRs, wearing a pre-Simons cornflower blue Sander dress from eight years ago that still looked completely modern, made that point – as will many of the pieces in this show. Have women’s needs for beautifully engineered, slyly luxurious coats and separates changed so much since the 90s? Maybe less than we thought.Nonetheless, having thrown her lot in with the democratic high street, she has to demonstrate, as she acknowledged backstage after the show, “why you have to pay so much for some clothes. I’ve worked for eight months on this collection,” she added, “with two Sundays off. But having my recent experiences in Asia where there are 40 million people in some of the cities, made me realise that we all need to nurture what’s beautiful and artisanal…”.

Looking tense, she said her return had been “far more emotional than I expected, but I feel great to be here. I hope you enjoyed the first step,” she added, before being dragged away to oversee the second show. She’s back on the fashion roller-coaster: but so far, so in-control.

Category Modern, Tags

Retailers

Demand from plus-sized women spawns fashion category.

For years, fashion advice for larger women has come in one size: wear black and avoid stripes. Now, many women are embracing their curves and demanding that retailers cater to them, not the other way round.

Hot Topic and Fifth & Pacific Cos’s Lucky Brand are among several retailers selling clothes — including striped skirts — to women who want to be just as fashionable as their skinnier sisters. On blogs and social media, millennials —who are aged about 18 to 34 — have appropriated the F Word and dubbed the new looks “fatshion,” a rebuke to an industry that still employs waif-like models to sell its wares.

Torrid, Hot Topic’s plus-size brand, has introduced figure- hugging Stiletto skinny jeans made extra stretchy, boosted its selection of intimates and added a “Look Book” section to its website, highlighting such trends as fashionable work clothes and pops of colour.

“For so long, women have been told by the fashion elite that they can’t wear horizontal stripes, everything they wear should be loose and they should steer away from anything that’s form-fitting and tailored,” said Catherine Moellering, executive vice president of Tobe, a New York-based fashion retail consulting firm. “This younger generation isn’t interested in their rules.”

Retailers are betting that new fabrics and styles will help lift US sales of plus-size women’s apparel, which grew one per cent in the year ending June 2012 to $15.4 billion, while the overall women’s apparel industry grew three per cent to $108 billion, according to NPD Group, a Port Washington, New York-based market research firm.

Category Retailers, Tags

American woman

Risk leeway.
The potential market is worth chasing because the average American woman is a size 14, and plus-sizes, often classified as 14 to 34, account for 67 per cent of the population, according to Houston-based Plunkett Research Ltd.

Retailers investing in fashion-forward plus-size apparel appear to have the leeway to take on additional risk. Hot Topic trades at a 25 per cent premium to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Retailing Index on a price-to-earnings basis while Hennes & Mauritz AB, which has introduced an H&M plus-size line, trades at a 13 per cent premium. Fifth & Pacific also trades at a premium to the index.

Signs of a shift in attitudes toward plus-size women are rife in the popular culture. Grammy-award-winning singer Adele Adkins and actress Queen Latifah, both full-figured women, urge fans to embrace their shapes. Meanwhile, pop star Lady Gaga, a slighter woman, has made acceptance a cornerstone of her image with the hit album “Born This Way.”

Big girl.
Each month, fashion magazine Marie Claire exposes its 15 million readers to such subjects as “fool-proof layering” and figure-flattering winter coats in its “Big Girl in a Skinny World” column. InStyle magazine is introducing a “Great Style Has No Size” page starting with its October issue.

The rise of a sharing culture where anyone can be a celebrity is key to promoting fatshion and removing the stigma associated with plus sizes, said Nicolette Mason, the 26-year-old who writes the Marie Claire column.

“Every single person with an iPhone or an Instagram account or Internet access can create a platform,” Mason said in an interview. “It’s kind of normalising and making things more visible for the average person.”

After becoming Hot Topic’s chief executive officer last year, Lisa Harper ditched Pinkerton, a canine mascot for the retailer’s Torrid chain. The bespectacled dog wore a bowtie and suit and told customers what to wear, which seemed “patronising” and “totally inappropriate,” she said.

Category American woman, Tags

Reposition

Sultry images.
The 11-year-old brand replaced Pinkerton with an “I am Torrid” campaign to reposition the chain as a fashion destination for sexy, voluptuous young women. The campaign features sultry black-and-white images of plus-size women wearing intimate apparel and denim that’s tailored to their bodies. Its Facebook page shares popular fashions, such as chiffon tops and seasonal colours, without emphasising that Torrid targets women sized 12 and up.

“These girls that we’re finding are independent and have a point of view and a voice and they’re becoming more bold,” Harper said. “We’ve reworked the brand to refocus on fashion, pure and simple, without the apologies, without the curvy conversation, the body type or any of that.”

Retailers may find it challenging to jump into the market because it’s expensive to make clothes for plus-size women, as bodies tend to change in more ways above a size 14 than below that. For designs to suit those changes, they require more research and often additional and different fabrics. Eloquii, a plus-size brand started last year by closely held The Limited, offers five different body “shapes” on its website, of diamond, teardrop, heart, infinity and emerald.

Contemporary clothes.
Researching fabrics for curvy women is a departure for designers of contemporary clothes, who have less experience in this area than their counterparts at such athletic-wear companies as LuluLemon Athletica, said Liz Crystal, chief marketing officer at Lane Bryant. The chain, which has long sold plus-size fashion, is introducing a “Fashion, Fit Right” marketing campaign this month to stress it has the latest trends and best fits. Established in 1904, Lane Bryant has more than 700 locations.

Waistlines in the US have long been growing, as more than one-third of adults and 18 per cent of children are obese, according to the Atlanta-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The total rate may rise to 42 per cent by 2030.

Category Reposition, Tags

Population

Age range.
“Fifteen years ago, when I started, it was just older women’s fashion,” said Marita Aikonen, who oversees an online- only plus-size line for Gap’s Old Navy brand. The full-figured population now includes a range of ages, said Aikonen, who started a similar collection at Levi Strauss & Co.

Rising numbers of larger women helped The Limited CEO Linda Heasley pitch Eloquii to investors. Since rolling out inside the company’s namesake stores, Eloquii has proved sufficiently popular to expand to standalone locations next year, Heasley said.

“This customer has a significant voice and a lot of that’s been aided by social media,” she said. While women of all ages are showing interest in plus-size fashion, “there are these wonderful young women that are helping to remove the stigma associated with it,” she said.

Hot Topic, based in City of Industry, California, is opening 45 Torrid stores this year and increasing its strip-mall locations, CEO Harper said. The chain, which will end the fiscal year at 192 stores, may ultimately be a 600-store concept, she said.

“We definitely see that opportunity,” she said. “The overwhelming message that comes out is: Be comfortable with yourself and dress yourself to your best advantage.”

Category Population, Tags