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50 per cent of all romances start on the internet

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Twenty years ago I worked in an office where people dictated letters and memos, and handed them to a secretary to type up. Our department was considered high tech; as well as a secretary, the five of us shared a PC. It wasn’t networked. The internet didn’t exist. I honestly have no idea how we got anything done.

Now the entire world is ‘online’. My ten-year-old niece and nephew send me poems they’ve written, pictures they’ve taken or songs they’ve created, electronically, from a variety of devices scattered around their house. They visit ‘virtual worlds’ where they create and take on the persona of ‘monsters’ and meet other children of the new millennium. And only occasionally does this hi-tech world fall short of their expectations. Like when my nephew recently expressed some frustration when he couldn’t connect to Nana’s WiFi.

“Nana doesn’t have WiFi,” said his dad.

“No WiFi!” replied my wide eyed nephew.

When it comes to finding love in the 21st Century, I’m a big believer in the Internet. In How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting I actually claim that 50% of all modern day romances probably started online. Now how on earth did I come up with that figure? Buckle up people. Prepare to be nerdified.

Let’s start by looking at Online Dating Websites, specifically how popular they are. Below is a list of the fifteen most popular websites, according to eBizMBA.com. This information is ‘correct’ (or so say eBizMBA) as of October 2014. And in case their website ever disappears off the face the www you can download a PDF of the page I’m looking at here.

  1. match – 35,000,000 unique visitors per month (31.9% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  2. pof – 23,000,000 unique visitors per month (21.0% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  3. zoosk – 11,500,000 unique visitors per month (10.5% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  4. okc 10,150,000 unique visitors per month (9.2% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  5. eharmony – 7,100,000 unique visitors per month (6.5%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  6. badoo – 6,000,000 unique visitors per month (5.5%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  7. christianmingle – 5,500,000 unique visitors per month (5.0%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  8. ourtime – 3,500,000 unique visitors per month (3.2%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  9. datehookup – 3,000,000 unique visitors per month (2.7% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  10. blackpeoplemeet – 1,200,000 unique visitors per month (1.1%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  11. howaboutwe – 1,000,000 unique visitors per month (0.9%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  12. seniorpeoplemeet – 900,000 unique visitors per month (0.8% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  13. speeddate – 850,000 unique visitors per month (0.8% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  14. chemistry – 550,000 unique visitors per month (0.5% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  15. jdate – 500,000 unique visitors per month (0.5% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)

Wowsers. That’s a lot of people.

eharmony claimPay close attention to number 5: eHarmony. As of today they claim they are responsible for almost 4% of all US marriages (This is based on a survey they commissioned in 2012).

Now, if we assume that eHarmony’s stats were correct in 2012, and are still correct today, and that all dating websites are equally effective (!!!), then mathematically the top fifteen websites are responsible for a whopping 61.8% of all US marriages!!

That seems… unlikely. Fortunately I can list the reasons why:

  1. eHarmony’s survey was possibly a little optimistic back in 2012 (given that they commissioned it)
  2. And it’s almost certainly out of date today (given that there are many new players in the online dating website community)
  3. Some dating websites are definitely better than others, whilst others are worse.

But if we adjust our numbers assuming that eharmony’s newley wed statistic is actually only a quarter as impressive, ie. that they’re only responsible for 1% of US marriages – and that whilst some websites are less effective than eharmony, some are also better – this still means the top fifteen websites could be responsible for, approximately, 15.5% of all US marriages.

So what if we take marriage out of the equation? Here’s an interesting statistic taken from the 2002 paper snappily entitled Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States published by the CDC: The percentage of US women, in co-habiting relationships, that turn to marriage within 5 years are 75% for white women, 61% for hispanic women, and 48% for black women.

Let’s pretend all American women are black for a moment, and that cohabiting couples that don’t tie the knot in five years go their separate ways, This means you can assume there’s one unmarried couple cohabiting for every two married couples, and that the top fifteen dating sites are therefore responsible for 23.1% of US people cohabiting and/or married. But this figure rises when you remember that there are white and hispanic women, and that some couples co-habit for longer than five years.

Add to that number those people who aren’t shacked up together, who are *just* dating (whatever that might mean), and that number might easily double again: 46.1%

And what about all the dating websites that didn’t make the top fifteen? Actually, forget dating sites, what about the likes of twitter, facebook and all the other social media sites that actually do a far better job of introducing people than the sites that are supposed to be about introducing people!? Suddenly that initial guesstimate that the internet is responsible for 50% of all relationships seems somewhat low!


Online Dating can seem daunting – but it needn’t be a nightmare. Get How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting today, follow the Action Points and you too can find someone special.


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The Wisdom Of Fay

fay's goalsReader Fay dropped me a line via facebook to let me know how she’d got on with her 2013 goals, but what really impressed me was how she’d written them.

Fay had three goals, all written in the present tense, each with a deadline, a penalty attached (ugh!), and saved on her phone where she could see them daily. Now that’s the way to write goals!

So how did she do?

I’m happy to report that during 2013 NO penalties were required – Fay has been dating someone since Oct, she’s running a marathon in May (it’s not Paris, it’s Edinburgh but I think that counts!) and she’s expanded her culinary skills with many a Mary Berry recipe.

The ‘Harrison fix up’ penalty intrigued me. Apparently it refers to her married friend who had a habit of inviting Fay to dinner, where upon she’d discover that the whole thing was a ruse to try and fix her up with another singleton.

If ‘romance’ features as one of your goals, I might be able to help! This month saw the launch of my new book How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting.

It’s available now in paperback, as an ebook, and (once I’ve finished recording it), as an audio download from audible. Pop along to amazon and select the format of your choice.

Alternatively, why not try the shorter, quirkier, companion guide, first; From Invisible To Irresistible – check it out on amazon


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Start Dating, Stop Waiting. 5 Dating Tips

heart-love-romanceBefore I started on my quest for happiness, I was using my problem solving skills to figure out what actually works when it comes to courting the opposite sex. From the pen-pal clubs of the early eighties, to the lonely heart newspaper ads of the nineties, from postal dating services to the more formal introduction agencies – there hasn’t been a dating service that I haven’t tried!

And after many, many years of seemingly making every dating mistake there is – scouring every scrap of scientific research I could get my hands on – I finally cracked it. There’s love in my life. And it wasn’t an accident.

If love, lust or romance feature in your goals for this year let me see if I can impart some of my dating prowess to you now. Here are my top five tips for dating success.

Dating Tip Number 1: What do you want?

Figuring out who it is you’re looking for is probably the most effective thing you can do to kick start your love life. You might think (as I used to) that you can’t afford to be picky, that finding someone who doesn’t repel you too much and is content to remain in your company might be the best you can hope for. I’m here to tell you that the reverse is true.

After months, possibly even years, of less-than-satisfactory relationships with long periods of nothing in-between, I sat down and wrote out what I actually wanted. A list of qualities that I hoped for in my ideal person. And about six weeks later I met my wife, Kate.

Now – that’s not the whole story, obviously. There were a few stages between writing my ‘perfect woman shopping list’ and choosing to sit next to this beautiful blonde I spied from across the room, but a few months into our relationship I looked back at that list and I was amazed at just how many of the criteria Kate met. Coincidence? Perhaps. But for the time it would take you to create your own list isn’t it worth the effort?

Dating Tip Number 2: Go online!

By my calculations online dating websites are responsible for one in five marriages. Include relationships that haven’t got as far as the altar, throw in the likes of facebook and other social media websites, and I estimate 50 percent of all romances probably start on the internet. Which means that simply using your computer to meet people could double your chances of dating success.

Dating Tip Number 3: Pick a good dating website

There are a LOT of dating websites out there – finding a good one can be a challenge. My current feelings are the free-ones can be just as good, sometimes better, than the paid-ones. For extra oomph pick a site that does some form of compatibility matching!

Dating Tip Number 4: To meet ‘the one’, you must first meet ‘the many’

Very, very few people go on one date and hit the jackpot first time. In fact, in the years I’ve been chatting to people about this stuff I’ve never met anyone who has. Dating is a numbers game. If you find someone you like online send them a message. If they respond toss a couple more messages back and forth. If you still like them arrange to meet. Meanwhile; continue to browse the dating sites, continue to send messages, continue arranging dates. Exclusivity should be reserved for that special someone you’ve dated more than once, in real life, and even then only if you want to.

As well as a numbers game, dating is a skill. The more dates you go on the better you’ll get.

SDSW drop shadow colour smallDating Tip Number 5: Have fun!

Dating is tough. It has to be said. Some days it can feel like a slog. But if it always feels like a slog, if it’s tough without being the slightest bit pleasurable, well, then you’re doing something wrong!

Try changing your mindset. Dating can be a fun. An adventure. Exciting. It’s a little like a lottery; Sometimes it’s just OK. Sometimes it’s better than OK. Occasionally it’s a total disaster, but every now and then it’s magical. And those moments make up for everything.

Secondly, make sure you’re doing things you actually enjoy. For me, a good first date takes place in a coffee shop, if it’s going really well I might suggest wandering across to the pub over the road. Dinners and first dates don’t mix well. But that’s just me. Maybe you’re into bungy jumping, or white water rafting or long walks in the countryside. Picking an activity you enjoy will significantly increase the chances of your first date going well.

Want More Tips?

If you want to delve into the detail behind the five tips above, pick my brain for more nuggets of dating gems, or need a little more hand holding, then I have some very good news. How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting, my third self-help book, is available today in paperback and as an ebook. An audio version – which includes the companion guide From Invisible To Irresistibleis also available at audible (co.uk and com)

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


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Common internet / online #dating abbreviations, shorthand & TLAs (how many do you know?)

These are some of the more common TLAs (three letter acronyms) and abbreviations you’re likely to come across in dating profiles, messages or ‘chat’ sessions. There are others, and new ones are being invented all the time – if you think I’ve missed one add a comment at the bottom or drop me a message.

2NITE
tonight

420
refers to the use of cannabis

ADN
any day now

AFAIK
as far as I know

AFK
away from keyboard

AKA
also known as

AML
all my love

ASAP
as soon as possible

ASLP
age/sex/location/picture

AWYR
awaiting your reply

B4
before

B4N
bye for now

BAK
back at keyboard

BBL
be back later

BBC
big black cock

BBW
big beautiful woman

BCNU
be seeing you

BDSM
bondage & discipline/domination & submission/sadism & masochism

BEG
big evil grin

BF
boyfriend

BFF
best friends forever

BFFL
best friends for life

BFN
bye for now

BRB
be right back
(as in, “I’ve got to answer the door” etc)

BS
big smile/bullshit
(that could make for an interesting misunderstanding!)

BTAIM
be that as it may

BTU
back to you

BTW
by the way

BWK
big wet kiss

CBL
come back later

CIO
check it out

CU
see you

CUL
catch you later

CWYL
chat with you later

DDF
drug and disease free

DIKU
do I know you?

DILIGAS
does it look like I give a sh*t?

Div
divorced

DLN
don’t leave now

DLTM
don’t lie to me

DTE
down to earth

EG
evil grin

F/ship
friendship

FAQ
frequently asked questions

FOTCL
falling off the chair laughing

FTF
face to face

FWB
friends with ‘benefits’
(‘benefits’ being sex)

FWIW
for what it’s worth

FYI
for your information

G2G
got to go

GAL
get a life!

GF
girlfriend

GFAK
go fly a kite

GIO
get it over

GL
good luck

GMAB
give me a break!

GSOH
good sense of humour

GTSY
glad to see you

H&K
hugs and kisses

HAGN
have a good night

HAK
hugs and kisses

HB
hurry back

HIG
how’s it going?

ICBW
I could be wrong

IDC
I don’t care

IDK
I don’t know

IDST
I didn’t say that!

IGP
I gotta pee

IMHO
in my humble opinion

IMO
in my opinion
(no humility)

IRL
in real life
(e.g. “let’s meet IRL”)

ISO
in search of

J/K
just kidding

JAM
just a minute

JAS
just a second

KIT
keep in touch

KWIM
know what I mean?

L8R
later

LDR
long distance relationship

LJBF
let’s just be friends

LMAO
laughing my arse off

LOL
laugh out loud
(or, very occasionally, ‘lots of love’,
but that’s actually a mistake made by newbies)

LOLA
laughing out loud again

LTR
long term relationship

M/F
male/female

M4M
man for man

M4MW
man for couple (man & woman)

M4W
man for woman

M8
mate

MILF
mother I’d like to f***
(or more generally; an attractive woman in her 30s / 40s)

MOTOS
member of the opposite sex

MOTSS
member of the same sex

MRS
meet real soon

MW4M
couple (man & woman) for man

MW4W
couple (man & woman) for woman

MWBRL
more will be revealed later

MYOB
mind your own business

N1
nice one!

N2S
needless to say

ND
non- drinker

NOYB
none of your business

NP
no problem

NRN
no response necessary

NS
non-smoker

NSA
no strings attached (sex)

NTTAWWT
not that there’s anything wrong with that

NW
no way!

OBTW
oh, by the way

OIC
oh I see

OMG
oh my God!

OT
off topic

PDA
public display of affection

PLS
please

POV
point of view

PMSL
peeing myself laughing

PTB
part time boyfriend

PTG
part time girlfriend

R/ship
relationship

RBTL
read(ing) between the lines

ROTFL
rolling on the floor laughing

ROTFLMAO
rolling on the floor laughing my arse off

ROTL
rolling on the floor laughing

RUOK
are you OK?

SD
social drinker

SOH
sense of humour

SOL
sooner or later

SOMY
sick of me yet?

SS
social smoker

STD
sexually transmitted disease

SWAK
sealed with a kiss

SWALK
sealed with a loving kiss

SYS
see you soon

TAFN
that’s all for now

TAH
take a hike!

TBDL
to be discussed later

TDH
tall, dark & handsome

TG
transgender

THX
thanks

TIAIL
think I am in love

TLC
tender loving care

TMI
too much information

TNTC
too numerous to count

TS
transsexual

TTFN
“ta ta for now”
(bye)

TTYL
talk to you later

TTYS
talk to you soon

TV
transvestite

TX
thanks

TYVM
thank you very much

VGL
very good looking

VM
voicemail

W/E
well endowed

W4M
woman for man

W4MW
woman for couple (man & woman)

W4W
woman for woman

W8
wait!

WIIFM
what’s in it for me?

WGTG
well, got to go

WLTM
would like to meet

WRU
who are you?

WTF
what the f***!?

WTGP
want to go private?
(as in; online private ‘chat’ mode)

WUF
where are you from?

WWJD
what would Jesus do?

WWPD
what would Peter do?
(not always the same as Jesus)

WWTMM
who was that masked man?

WYS
whatever you say

WYSIWYG
what you see is what you get

XOXO
hugs and kisses

YNK
you never know

YW
you’re welcome


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From Invisible To Irresistible

SDSW drop shadow colour small

Last week we talked about Goals and how to identify what yours should be using the ‘Vision’ method.

When I do this exercise in workshops there are a handful of Goals that come up time and time again. I blogged about the number one Goal of all time a few months back, but there’s another popular goal that easily takes the number two slot.

Even in this day and age of social media and online dating it seems that more people than ever find themselves sitting at home on a Friday night, with nothing more than a packet of crisps and a cat to keep them company. For some people that might sound like absolute bliss, but I’ve met many others who were hoping for a little more. At the very least someone who would sit between them and the cat, share the crisps, or bring their own bag for the occasional swapsie.

If finding and starting ‘a new relationship‘ made it into your Goals List then you’re in luck! Over the next few weeks I’ve got not one, but two books coming out on the subject.

How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting, my long awaited third How To book, will be released in paperback, audio and as an ebook, on the 14th of February this year; Valentines Day. If you enjoyed How To Do Everything And Be Happy, if you’ve ever found any of my advice useful, if you’re fed up with being single and would like 2014 to be full of love, lust or romance… well, this might just be the book for you. Subscribe to this blog (top right hand corner of this website – it’s FREE), or LIKE the facebook page, and I’ll be sure to remind you know when it’s available.

Fed up with being invisible?In the meantime, do you remember how I met Kate? (You can find out here, or listen to the radio interview I gave to BBC Broadcaster Matthew Bannister below). When I tell people the story of how I met my wife they nearly always get the short version. The one paragraph version. But there was quite a bit more to it than signing up for a flirting course and sitting myself next to the prettiest girl in the room. I also underwent something of a self imposed image makeover. I did anything I could to turn myself into a ‘accidental relationship’ waiting to happen.

Now, I’m not about to start handing out fashion advice or makeup tips. That’s not my bag. What definitely is my bag however is a slew of ideas based on my own experience and/or scientific research, on how you can influence and improve how people perceive you. Think of it as a step-by-step personal re-branding exercise, all wrapped up in a mini-book.

From Invisible To Irresistible is the shorter, quirkier, but none-the-less completely gorgeous companion guide to How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting. Through a series of twelve anecdotes I highlight (and fix) those underlying problems, that make otherwise attractive, charming people invisible to those they’d like to date.

Chapters include:

  • Changing Your Mind – How you can think yourself more attractive, and why a little back-to-front logic might work wonders.
  • Changing Your Image – Why it might be a good idea to cut off your hair (or grow it back again), how to shed pounds without spending a fortune, and why hiring a professional image consultant could be a waste of money.
  • Changing Your Environment – Why sitting at home in front of the TV isn’t a dating strategy, why some of your friends are holding you back, and why it’s vitally important to have the right sofa.

How I met Kate

Finding a wife wasn’t quite the breeze I always assumed it would be. It required a little effort, some planning, and a somewhat unorthodox approach to problem solving. You can find out more in this short audio snippet taken from a BBC interview with Matthew Bannister. Click the big play button in the middle of the image (or here if you’re reading this in an email).

You can listen to the full length interview here.