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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Interview with Dave Evans, Onilne Dating Industry Blogger

When it comes to setting up online dating sites companies do have a responsibility to be open and honest about what real opportunities their sites can offer individuals. Research to date has found individuals can develop trust with others fairly quickly online1. Given the pace that trust is developed and the greater amount of self-disclosure that takes place online, such dating sites do need to take care with how they are introducing and matching people. Introducing and matching people refers to more than simply compatibility testing and search functionality – it refers to the broad messaging and methods the company uses to attract members, build an effective community of online daters and foster website activity. In other words, individuals using online dating sites are paying for a service and hence have some expectation that the service will deliver what it promises.


Aside from, there is one major resource that consumers can use to help them evaluate whether certain sites deliver as advertised, as well as receive candid insider opinions and updates on the latest trends in the industry. I’m referring to the “Consumer Reports” of the online dating blogging world – Online Dating Insider and its moderator, Dave Evans: I recommend that all readers regularly visit his blog and read his views on diverse topics ranging from business practices of online dating services to new sites and features offered by these sites. Unlike other blogs and resources that mainly present news releases, Online Dating Insider is all about frank commentary about what seems to work and what doesn’t for customers.

Dave recently answered some questions that I felt were highly important to our readers. Dave doesn’t sugar coat anything – his responses are pointed and succinct. You’ll also notice that Dave has practical point of views about online dating, since he is not only an industry insider, he’s also an actual user of these sites. Enjoy!

About how many of your readers are actual consumers? And what value do online daters get from reading industry blogs?
70% come from Google, the rest are industry people. Online daters get a better understanding of how the industry operates, the personalities behind the companies, the future of online dating and how to make the most out of their online dating experience.

In your view, where does a dater have the best chance of finding someone for a real relationship -- a large, established site or a niche site?
Large sites all the way, unless you can find a niche site that has lots of people in your area. This is pretty rare unless you’re gay, black, Asian or Jewish – which all have robust niches communities online.

What are the coming trends or features in online dating that consumers should be aware?
New Jersey legislation coming up this week that will require websites to disclose whether they conduct any background screenings. Background checks, identity verification and video speed dating are all important things happening in online dating.

The issue of online dating safety continues to make the news. What’s the industry's reaction to the recent legislation and how will this all help or hurt consumers?
I have yet to meet a dating site owner in favor the current legislation. The bills have been poorly written, the issues framed improperly, they are difficult to enforce and worst of all the entire legislative push is driven by a single company who has no business pushing legislation as a business model. The hypocrisy of the situation is absolutely ridiculous.

What don't online daters do well? I mean, what are they doing or not doing that undermines their success? 
Online daters are not truthful about themselves in their profiles. Sometimes this is the fault of the dating site, as the state-of-the-art profile has not changed in years.

Singles can't rely solely on dating sites to find a mate. That's like putting your resume on a job site and sitting back and waiting for the offers to pour in. It doesn't work that way. Singles should still be going out to cultural and sports events, joining clubs, going to bars, anything to put them in front of other singles.

Many couples are introduced by friends, so put your friends to work. Give them a link to your profile, tell them the kind of person you want to meet and be persistent.

Men send email to too many women, and women, inundated by emails, are never able to respond in kind, which upsets the men, who leave the service and complain that online dating doesn't work. It's a cycle of failure that online dating sites have been unable to break, even with the best intentions.



1 Whitty, M. & Gavin, J. (2001). Age/Sex/Location: Uncovering the social cues in the development of online relationships. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 623 – 630.

Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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