Top 3 Online Dating Sites 2014


eHarmony

eHarmony.com This site differs from most other dating sites in that they do the work for you by presenting you with matches based on a detailed questionnaire and their patented Compatibility Matching System. The web staff also controls contact until both members are ready to establish contact with one another. The main focus is on establishing serious long term relationships and the sites tag line claims to do this by using 7 degrees of compatibility.

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Match-Logo-Med-Res (1)

Match.com was started in 1995. The site is easy to navigate and provides you with all the tools you need to find a date. Subscription prices run similar to other sites and your chance of receiving matches and replies is statistically higher than with smaller sites. This is because Match.com is likely to be the biggest dating site in the world and carries a high Google page ranking, making it highly visible to the public.

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ZooskLogo

Zoosk.com It is now a subscription-based dating service which accesses many popular social media sites like Face Book, Bebo, Hi5, Tagged and MySpace. Unlike many dating websites, which require a great personal investment from new users, Zoosk capitalizes on the ubiquity of social networking, making the transition from socializing on the web to dating very easy.Zoosk encourages people to integrate their service with Face Book on their homepage.

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An Interview with Tastebuds.fm

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Discovering and sharing music can be a fun and intimate experience with a significant other. Why not leave the crowded pool of online daters and fish in sea of serious music lovers. Julian Keenaghan and Alex Parish (picture left) – founders of dating site, Tastebuds.fm - shared these exact thoughts. Connecting via music, whether it’s new friends, concert buddies, or new lover, should fun and effortless. Below the Tastebuds.fm team explain why you should give their new dating concept a chance.

Julian Keenaghan and Alex Parish - founders of Tastebuds

What inspired Tastebuds?

Why isn’t there a social site that lets me meet people who like the same music and have the same mindset as me? We asked ourselves that question and realised that we knew of services that were close but none of them seemed to behave like the construct we had in our heads – so we took a bold step forward and started working on it ourselves. We believe in the hypothesis that music can say a lot about a person and also people who have the same music taste might have a lot in common. We tested it. It works.

How does the site work?

Deceptively simple, really :) You register by adding your favorite bands in a few quick steps and straight away you’re shown people nearby who have the same or at least very similar music taste. You can message them privately, listen to your personalised radio to discover new music, check out what people are listening to in the global feed or take part in more in-depth conversations in our forums. Best of all its totally free.

How is your site different from similar and traditional competitors?

Our main difference would be our strong focus on music, connecting all users across the globe by their music taste and nothing else. Based on this one trait users can use the site as an open playground: browse for dates, talk to fellow fans, find gig buddies or get music recommendations. The experience is very, very open-ended, thanks to our friendly and rapidly-growing community.

Why is your site important to the industry?

We believe that the industry needs a change of blood and some much needed soul. Major dating sites and social networks can be ineffective and impersonal. Meeting new people should be fun after all! Breaking the ice by sharing music makes meeting new people fun rather than an uncomfortable experience. We also have the highest response rate to first messages in the industry meaning your message won’t fall on deaf ears.

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How long has the site been around and how has it grown?

We launched a beta version of the site in 2010 and have been working on it full-time since 2011. We’ve managed to nurture an active and diverse user base with more than a quarter of a million messages sent every week. We’ve built some really fun features including our crowd-sourced radio and great forums where users can discuss whatever’s on their mind [link to forums]. Additionally our music taste data lets us conduct interesting studies that we turn into great infographics and behavioural research.

Who is attracted to your site?

Anyone who can name at least 3 bands or artists they enjoy listening to! So far this adds up to hundreds of thousands of music lovers from all corners of the world. We’ve made an infographic to give some insight about our users – as you’ll see, most of them are into indie and rock, also with slight electro overtones. The majority of our users are spread across the US, the UK and Brazil. The one overarching characteristic of our users is their love for music.

Any favorite stories to share?

Oh, we have loads and we always love sharing them! The lovely couple who met on Tastebuds and still have the screenshot of their very first messages?  Or perhaps the moment Mark Ronson retweeted our study that showed his fans were the most likely to enjoy a good spanking? That was brilliant! Finding out that some of our users in Rome are doing Tastebuds meetups on their own? There are dozens and dozens of stories and we often post them on our blog!

Tastebuds Icon - DarkWhat’s next?

Well, we’ve teased some users on Twitter about doing some intergalactic filters so that you should soon be able to get matches from Alpha Centauri, the new Moon bases or Mars (obviously!) but that’s a whole lot of tricky technical work :( So, in the meanwhile we’re completely overhauling the site design (we’ve just launched our renewed dashboard!), organizing our own meetups in Central London and working on mobile apps that will give you the same Tastebuds experience on the go, but with a few funky twists!

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An Interview with Sparkology.com’s Founder Alex Furmansky

Sparkology President & Founder - Alex Furmansky Online dating can be a headache. Add fake profiles and meaningless encounters can be tiresome for the busy young professional. Quality matters. Alex Furmansky (picture left), founder and president of dating site, Sparkology, saw this need. Furmansky created an elite online dating option for young professionals too busy to sift through the nonsense. Below he explains why you should give his site a chance.

What inspired Sparkology?

I was a bit of a hopeless romantic at Penn. While most guys were doing keg stands, I’d show up with flowers and a bottle of wine. The sleazy pick-up culture of clubs and bars didn’t feel right. Online dating held such promise, yet the same exhaustive numbers games permeated through the mass-market online dating experience.  Look at OKCupid, Tinder, Match, etc.  They are good for what they are… but I see them more as addicting games rather than places to meet quality people for meaningful relationships.

People burn out from online dating.  Millions of profiles sounds great on paper, but today’s singles realize that this means there are millions of worthless and fake profiles to sift through (and hundreds of “hey girl!” messages in their inbox). If you play in the sewers, don’t complain about the rats.

We created a place for the silent majority: the well-intentioned professionals who don’t have time to play the bar scene.

Why only allow men who graduated from the “top tier schools” in the country?

 

We found that women only wanted to meet men who were intelligent, driven, and as one member comically put it “have their sh*t together”.  The university requirement is the best objective, verifiable method of ensuring the right caliber of men.  And remember, we aren’t limited to Ivy schools… we include a total of 100 national and international universities.  Let’s just say our women aren’t complaining.

The men are happy as well: they no longer have to overcome the barrier of proving they are actually worth a serious consideration… as they do on other sites where their messages get thrown in the same pile of 50 daily pickup lines from random riff raff.

How does the site work?

Most of our members are referred by existing members.  Those without friends in the community can request an invite and we release roughly 50 per week.  Once on the site, profiles are a cinch to complete and clients can browse matches either through our dashboard or through our newsfeed-like Discover interface.

Men use a virtual currency to start new conversations (no spam!) whereas women are free to start an unlimited number of conversations via messages or “smiles”.

We’ve had roughly 6,500 successful connections so far!

How is Sparkology different from similar and traditional competitors?

Where to begin?!?  How about:

a) Invite-only: Most of our members are invited by existing members; we also reserve a small lot of staff invites for those who apply for membership without a friend already on the site.  This invite-only model has ensured a high-quality user base even as we scale up.

Sparkology Sample Profileb) No spam: Men pay a nominal fee to initiate a conversation with a woman and then can continue the conversation free of charge once she responds.  It’s not much… but it’s enough to make messages meaningful.  Women appreciate the meaningful messages and men love knowing that their messages are actually getting read and responded to

c) We have a full service team of concierges who’ll do everything from help you write your profile to take you out on a photo shoot for your profile pics!  Our customer service rating on ZenDesk is at 95% positive… unheard of for the dating space.

d) REALLY simple profiles: young professionals are too busy to fill out useless questionnaires…

At the end of the day, our member base has no equal.  We have hands down the best singles in the 22 to 38 range.

Why is your site important to the industry?

We’re the first site to take an ethical stand.  We don’t buy profiles, we don’t sell profiles, we don’t sell any customer data, etc.

I personally left a high-paying six-figure job because of ethical concerns… so that was very important to me.  Even though that made it harder to start the community 1.5 years ago, that mantra has permeated the community with an unparalleled amount of respect and responsibility.

Sparkology Online Dating LogoWhen did the site launch and how has it grown?

We did our private beta in November 2011 and launched in full force in February 2012 when our iPhone app went live.  In less than 1.5 years, we’ve grown to over 8,000 invited, verified members.

Who is attracted to your site?

Men and women aged 22 to 38 with careers living in cities like NYC, DC, Boston, LA, and SF.

Any favorite stories to share?

I just got invited to our second Sparkology wedding!  It’s so exciting and gratifying to see the real impact of our work.  I attended our first wedding about 3 weeks ago… it was a surprise wedding… where the guests all thought they were attending an engagement brunch.  And then all the guests received “Save the Date” cards… for the same day… and the doors to an adjacent room opened to reveal a chuppah.  Needless to say, the crowd went crazy.  It’s a really novel idea that suited the couple well.  It’s certainly a departure from the typical grandiose yet stodgy NYC weddings.

What’s next?

We’ve had a solid iPhone app since we launched… but now we’re really kicking it up a notch.  Expect some cool photo-centric mobile-only innovations in the next 3 months!

luxury dating for luxury living

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An Interview with DogSociety.com Founder Tanya Hynes

couple-sitting-at-table-with-dogs1Are you single and have strong passion for man’s best friend? Well, dog enthusiast Tanya Hynes created a free website, DogSociety, for dog owners searching for companionship. And she explains why you should give this new dating site a chance to help you find love!

What inspired DogSociety?

There are so many dating sites out on the market, and they are all very similar to each other. I have noticed over the years Dog people seem to stick together and when Im walking my dog down the street fellow dog lovers will always stop to have a chat. Hence why I came up with the idea of Dog Society – a website were fellow dog lovers can meet like-minded people who all have the same passion – their love of dogs.

How does the site work?

Sign up on the homepage with your username & email address. Once you have activated your account you are able to upload a picture of yourself (or preferably one with your dog in the picture too) Fill in some details about you and your dog (age, a bit about you and your dog) and what you are looking for (Romance, friendship or a walking buddy).  Once your profile is all completed you are able to search for fellow dog lovers through which state they live in and what they are looking for.

dogsHow is your site different from similar and traditional competitors?

This website is purely designed for Dog lovers, so every member who signs up knows they are talking to a like-minded person who has the same passion/love for dog as they do. It’s really capturing a niche market and taking out that extra step to see if the person you are talking to likes dogs or not. Its helping the shyer or time-poor dog lovers create friendship which can lead to love. Dog Society is only valid for people over the age of 18 years.  it’s a national website and free to join!

Why is your site important to the industry?

Communication now is all online – majority of people are on some type of social media website. Dog Society is for a niche dog lovers market and is now connecting those dog lovers with each other.

How long has the site been around and how has it grown?

We launched the site in April 2013, already each day we are receiving more and more memberships, We have had feedback from our members which has all been positive and they are glad there is a website dedicated to dog lovers.

logoWho is attracted to your site?

Only dog lovers.

What’s next?

We are soon to be launching events in different areas throughout Australia, such as cocktail nights, doggie speed dating, fitness groups and a few more activities like this.

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An Interview with KissingGates.com founder, Jimmy Vestbirk

KissingGates.com Free Dating for FarmersLife in the countryside is obviously very different from a fast-paced urban life. And less people equals less interaction. But rural inhabitants long for love and connection, too. Jimmy Vestbirk’s online dating site, KissingGates.com, will help United Kingdom farmers and country-dwellers find love connections easier. Below he explains why you should give the site a chance.

What inspired KissingGates.com?

In 2007 I founded KissingGates.com after I returned to my family farm in rural Lincolnshire where I spent a year living and working in the countryside and realised there was a very practical problem meeting other like-minded country singles. As I began to research this [countryside dating] I identified that there were a lot of single farmers in my area experiencing a similar problem to me, so I set about solving this problem by launching a dating for farmers site and this has evolved into a broader countryside themed dating site. In essence the inspiration came from my own necessity to find a like-minded partner.

How does the site work?

At KissingGates.com we do not make assumptions about people or their circumstances, we tailor the site towards the countryside demographic however we simply provide the tools for country singles to find a partner that suits their individual requirements empowering our members in the best way we can. It is 100% free to sign up and have a look around and we always encourage singletons to sign up free, what have they got to lose!

How is your site different from similar and traditional competitors?

We do not work from large city offices and we live and breathe everything countryside and listen to our customers’ needs and requirements which are very unique problems to the countryside. For example there is a large focus on customer service with a free phone number for members to call and find out how to make the most out of their experience, this service is invaluable to some of our older members who have only just moved off dial-up. Beyond dating we also get involved with countryside societies, support local communities and campaign for faster internet in the rural communities – KissingGates.com stands for so much more than just country dating!

KissingGates.com Country Dating Site LogoWhy is your site important to the industry?

With several marriages under our belt we are confident that KissingGates.com is a site that is important to dating and I am so confident my picture with my girlfriend (who he met on KissingGates.com) is the main picture on the website!

How long has the site been around and how has it grown?

The site has been around since 2008 and has consistently grown month on month with an additional 40+ senior version launched in 2010 to serve a growing demand for an older demographic countryside dating, a video which featured KissingGates.com went viral this year with over 500,000 views which helped kick start 2013.

Who is attracted to your site?

There has been a lot of interest in recent TV shows ‘farmer wants a wife and ‘first time farmers’ which has attracted many female members looking at the idealistic countryside lifestyle. Interestingly this traffic source tends to generate a lot of female registrations from right across the age range which is pretty evenly split from 18 – 90.

Kissinggates.com Home Screen Shot Single Farmers SiteAny favorite stories to share?

A local farm gardener in the village our office is based recently got divorced so we naturally suggested KissingGates.com. When you get divorced you default to a fight or flight mode, either stay at home and feel sorry for yourself or go out and take advantage of your freedom. The gardener did the latter and two years later was married to his amazing new partner who he met through KissingGates.com, he still won’t cut the farms hedge for free though!

What’s next?

We are constantly looking at what we are doing and trying to do things better. We have softly launched in Australia and see this as a great area to move into in the third quarter of this year.

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An Interview with BoomerPremierDating.com’s President Elaine Rodino, Ph.D.

seniorcoupleDating for people age 50 and older is very different from singles in their 20′s and 30′s. But for older singles, finding a new love may be just as important. The online dating craze is now slowly extending its services to older singles. The professional staff of BoomerPremierDating.com and SeniorPremierDating.com have created dating sites specifically for this generation.

What inspired BoomerPremierDating.com?

I’m a psychologist and I’ve been in private practice for over 30 years seeing individuals and couples dealing with relationship issues, looking for relationships and ending relationships.  A couple of years ago my husband (an urban planner and developer) began to do research on senior housing and came across lots of very interesting information on Boomers and Seniors and the frequent reference to this age group as the Silver Tsunami.  His excitement in reading and learning about this age population spurred my own interest in realizing that this is probably an under-served group in the huge field of online dating.

People who are 50+ have very specific issues about dating or meeting someone new that are different than 25 year olds.

And, people who are 65+ also have different issues than those in the boomer generation.

Most of the people in these age ranges haven’t “dated” in many years.  They’re quite nervous about it.  Our articles and blogs are specifically attuned to issues such as: Am I too old to date, Safe Sex, Am I too fat? Gay, over 50 and dating… Etc., etc.

right_collageBecause of all these issues I thought it would be a wonderful thing to start a dating website just for people 50+ and for 65+ and focus on helping people resolve these issues and date or find someone with more ease.  To do this I gathered all professional people to form our company.  I am a Ph.D. psychologist and have practiced for over 30 years. Aileen Sirey, Ph.D. is a recently retired psychotherapist who practiced in New York City for many years. Bob Rodino, Ph.D. (my husband) is the urban planner who is also working on planning senior housing.  We also have Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna who are Emmy Award winning entertainers who have been doing relationship satire for their whole professional life, and are still actively performing and writing.  This team of professional partners is exceptional.  We all know and love each other and have a fabulous working relationship.

How does the site work?

We have 3 levels of membership subscription.  The fees are $29.95 per month if joined on a monthly basis, $17.95 per month if joined for 3 months, and only $15.95 per month for a 6 month subscription.

Subscribers can search around the site at all the other profiles. Our matching system will also match people on region, zip code and other characteristics. Subscribers can send messages, winks and communicate with others.  We have chat rooms and photo albums.

How is your site different from similar and traditional competitors?

left_collageOur site differs from other sites in that we use psychology and humor to communicate with and educate our members.  We understand the psychological issues of our age range served and speak to these issues by using psychology and humor.

We are more than a dating site.  I mean it’s more than just looking for a romantic partner or mate.  We also have matching for travel buddies, companions and even house sharing.  We more than welcome diversity.  We have articles and blogs written specifically for boomer and senior LGBT dating.

House sharing is becoming a more popular occurrence. Often, when someone loses a spouse or partner they may not want to leave their home. The concept of having someone compatible move in and join in the costs and upkeep of the home can be very helpful.

We’re probably more accustomed to the concept of looking for a travel buddy.  It can be lots of fun to find a traveling companion and have someone compatible to travel with and share hotel room expenses.

Finally, we have Heart-to-Heart. This is our way of having people sign up a friend or relative who may be a bit shy to enter the process, or not technologically savvy.  Picture a lonely 75 year old parent who doesn’t have the computer knowledge and may even be a bit shy about online dating.  An adult child or relative can help that person to complete the profile and work with them to find an appropriate match.  We called this Heart-to-Heart because of the caring aspect.

Why is your site important to the industry?

The truly professional level of our partners makes us not only different but important to the industry in elevating the knowledge and services to this age group.

Our site is important to the industry because the owners of our site are “real people”, not corporate executives.  We are all seniors ourselves.  We are professionals in understanding people our age.  I’m a psychologist and President of the company.  The Vice-Presidents include Aileen Sirey, Ph.D. (a psychotherapist), Bob Rodino, Ph.D. (an Urban Planner and Real Estate Developer), and Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna (Emmy award winning entertainers, writers, directors).  In fact, Renee can be seen in the role of the pharmacist in the new Tyler Perry film “Temptation”.

You may also remember Renee Taylor as Fran Dreshers mother (Sylvia) in “The Nanny”.  She has also been in this last season’s new Fran Dresher show “Happily Divorced”.  In this show she plays the friend of Fran Dresher’s mother (Marilyn).

logo2How long has the site been around and how has it grown?

We launched our site last June (2012). Since that time we have been adding profiles and reaching out to specific areas.

We added 2 funny videos, one on each site.  These videos are written and performed by Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna.

One on BoomerPremierDating.com, the other on SeniorPremierDating.com.  They are satires on issues of dating for Boomers and Seniors, and I think they are very funny.

We have also grown on SEO.  Search engines place us on the 1st four pages depending on search words used.  For some search words we’re on page one; and that’s very exciting of course.

Who is attracted to your site?

We have been attracting singles from a number of regions around the country.  We do have a greater cluster in Northern California where we did some heavier marketing from the start. We are now seeing more activity from places like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller cities and less urban regions.

Like other sites we’re attracting more women than men.  To attract more men I have written some articles and blogs focused for men and I will continue to do this.  My experience as a psychologist is that a while back about two-thirds of my patients was women.  Now it’s pretty even and sometimes I have more men in my practice than women.  I think this is because men are feeling more comfortable about getting counseling.  I think men are beginning to feel more comfortable about joining dating websites too.  The psychology part may also be important.  As I “matured”, I think I attracted more men into my practice because they feel understood and more comfortable with a mature woman.  That is also true of our website.  We are all seniors.  The articles are written by senior and boomer aged professionals.  People will feel understood on our site.

professional collageAny favorite stories to share?

This is pretty funny.  We started with our SeniorPremierDating.com site.  We printed flyers and cards and had them distributed at single dances in Northern California.  We immediately found that people who were 65+ were very happy to receive the flyers.  They showed interest in this new online dating specifically oriented to Seniors.  BUT…we found that those in the Boomer age range (50-64) were OUTRAGED!!!

logo3They were insulted to be given a flyer saying “SeniorPremierDating.com”.

They said “I’m not a senior!!”.  “Why are you giving me this flyer?”.

We heard their message…and within a couple of weeks we launched BoomerPremierDating.com.  We realize that the Baby Boomer generation is very different than “seniors”.  In fact…the baby boom generation will NEVER become seniors.  They will age to 90 and 100+ and still be referred to (and refer to themselves) as “baby boomers”.

Aside from being a funny story…this is the way we work.  We are always attentive to what our constituency is saying and how they’re reacting.  We want to serve the Boomer and Senior population well.  We want to provide what they want and what they need. We’re open to suggestions all the time….and we change our course accordingly.

What’s next?

We are going to focus more of our marketing efforts in the major metropolitan areas throughout the country.  We’re already doing quite well on Google searches; we come up on pages 1-4 most often depending on the search words used.  We’re also considering paid ads, but, we’ve been doing quite well “organically” because of the great content on our sites.

We are constantly working at streamlining the site to make it more and more user friendly.

 

BoomerPremierDating: Facebook | Twitter | Youtube | Blog

SeniorPremierDating: Facebook | Twitter | Youtube | Blog

Dinner Dates at Home

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.38.24 PMIt’s hard to hash out a good date that doesn’t involve a meal. Even if you’re hiking, checking out an aquarium, getting matching tattoos (not something we recommend) or heading out on a road trip, everyone’s gotta eat, and if you don’t make some of those meals an at-home event, your wallet won’t be quick to forgive you. The occasional at-home date night can be even better than hitting the town: no obnoxious crowds, loud bars or pricey bills to put distance between you and the one you love. But lo, this presents a new problem – how can one prepare a dinner worth talking about without having cooked anything that can’t fit in a microwave? Thank God for the Internet. We’ve assembled fifteen of our favorite online resources for dinner ideas, recipes and dinner date etiquette for anyone looking for an intimate night at home (and for those who can’t stand to see their wallets get any thinner):

 

First, Some Tips:

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.02.45 PMDon’t cook for the first date – Dinner at home is a wonderfully intimate date idea, but you’ll shoot yourself in the foot should you try it off the bat. First dates are notoriously awkward, and you won’t want to complicate the already uncomfortable conversations with the subtext of inviting someone into your apartment or house right away. “[Wait until] date #3,” says Marie Claire. “As for who should make dinner, don’t force another person to cook, please! If you want to do it, just go ahead and do it; it doesn’t matter what gender you are.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.09.30 PMDon’t get creative if you’re not a pro – We’re all for trying new things, but if this is your first time cooking, you won’t want to add your own flair to an old recipe. Dinner should complement the night, not distract from it. Stick to a simple plan and you’ll be fine – chances are, he and she will be impressed no matter how routine the meal ends up being. “If you don’t have your own recipes, follow a cookbook and prepare something your date will enjoy,” recommends Love Panky. “This is a simple and easy date, and depending on your culinary skills, you can make a memorable impression too.” If those skills aren’t worth bragging about, don’t worry – we’ve included some sources for easy recipes later on.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.10.46 PMMake it a Buffet – If you’re really struggling to whip up something edible, buffets are a great way to have your date help out without he or she knowing. Setting up an at-home salad bar or Mongolian grill will let your date have fun preparing his or her own meal while taking the pressure off of you. It’s also a great way to make your meal healthy: “Buy a few heads of lettuce and chop them up nicely, and then buy a wide selection of vegetables,” says Life Hack. “You can also grill up some chicken slices and boil some eggs in order to add protein to the mix of salad bar options. Most people will enjoy a hearty salad, and you could bake some brownies for dessert.” Doesn’t sound too hard, does it?

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.11.48 PMHead online – Yes, by reading this article, you’re probably already doing this. But if tips and recipes aren’t enough, you might consider enrolling in an online cooking class a few days before your date. They’re usually fairly cheap and can get you on your feet in the kitchen so you can serve your date something that won’t have to be covered in salt and dressings. “People who want to improve their skills with specific types of dishes may benefit from an online cooking class,” says Let’s Cook. “Studying courses online is a great way for people to add to their knowledge of a specific type of cooking.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.19.38 PMMake something you can talk about – Again, you don’t have to be Bobby Flay to have a successful dinner date. But even a simple dish can spur conversation. Find a recipe that calls for a noticeable or unusual ingredient, something that stands out and will get your date talking. It’s a great way to get a conversation going if that kind of thing isn’t your forte. “Never mind flipping pans and peeling potatoes at record speed,” says The Man’s Cookbook. “If you want her to flip for you you’ve got to impress her with your attention to important details and your appreciation of each delicious ingredient.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.16.44 PMDon’t forget the atmosphere – It’s easy to get so caught up in meal-prep that you forget to clean your apartment. Don’t leave your date wishing he or she was at a restaurant. Make sure you tidy up and light some candles, but don’t over-do it, either. “We all know a recipe for a romantic atmosphere – dim the lights, light up a couple of scented candles, put some soft music on,” says You Queen. “That’s pretty much enough, try not to overdo it, you don’t want your dining room to look like a brothel.” Have all this done beforehand – you won’t want your date bored on the couch while you scramble to make your apartment livable.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.20.48 PMCook for your audience – Your date’s favorite foods shouldn’t be a mystery. There’s no shame in asking what he or she would like to eat. In fact, there’s a chance the night will be ruined if you don’t – it’s hard to recover from cooking lasagna for someone who happens to be lactose intolerant. “When you’re deciding what to cook for your first date at home, do a little digging,” says The Adventurous Writer. “What’s her favorite restaurant? Her favorite type of food? Any allergies? I’m not saying you should cook your date’s exact favorite meal, but I don think it’s important to get a feel for what she likes.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.21.51 PMDon’t stress – The worst thing you can do is obsess over the quality of the meal and ignore your date. Eating at home is a way to avoid the stresses of restaurants and connect with each other, not concoct the world’s greatest dinner. If things go wrong at the last minute, remember: you’re there for each other, not to eat. “If the scallops catch on fire and the blender explodes pea puree all over your kitchen,” says The Local’s Hottest, “and you can both laugh it off and order pizza, then you know you have a real catch.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.23.09 PMIf you’re having fun, keep going – If on your date night you discover that you and your match have more chef in your blood than you’d thought, why not keep going? Take cooking for a date a step further by enlisting in a couple’s culinary class. “Today’s modern cooking classes have changed considerably from what we’ve been offered in the past as they have become truly exceptional culinary experiences with instructional courses offered by internationally acclaimed award winning chefs and sommeliers,” says Examiner. “From wine tastings and small plate menus to wine pairing, multi-course dinners, there’s a class for virtually everyone and for nearly every level of expertise.”

 

Recipe Resources

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.25.24 PMChow – How can you go wrong with a name like this? Chow is the online king of all things food – there are recipes, videos, cooking stories, restaurant guides and reviews, and a great community of cooks who want nothing more than to help you bring some fantastic food into your life. Be sure to check out their Date Night Dinner article for the best recipes with which to impress your match. Highlight Recipe: Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.26.29 PMInspired Taste – Short on inspiration? Inspired Taste has your back. What started as a hobby for bloggers Adam and Joanne has turned into a full-blown business as they deliver some of the best original recipes on the net. Oh, and there’s a whole page devoted only to the perfect appetizers, desserts, drinks and meals for date nights. Highlight Recipe: Shrimp Pasta with Tomato and Basil.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.27.19 PMSur la Table – This is for those who’d like to make a date out of cooking the meal rather than eating it. Sur La Table is the perfect place for anyone looking to enroll in a cooking class. In addition to offering the finest cookware products on the market, Sur la Table provides a detailed guide of cooking courses, classes and events nationwide. There’s even a special page for those looking to cook for (or with) a date.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.28.27 PMThird Date Cooking – This site is tailored to exactly what we’re trying to help you with in this article. Third Date Cooking was employed to help 20-30 somethings take the leap past dorm room cuisine into preparing meals that can actually be shared with a human being. There are recipes, cooking tips, dating advice and stories to prove just how far a meal can go. Highlight Recipe: Pan Fried Baby Artichokes.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.29.24 PMThe Awl – They’re not a cooking site, but damn if The Awl didn’t whip up a great guide on cooking for a date. They offer a step-by-step guide on how to impress your match with Pernil as the main dish and will hold your hand for the before, during and after of your dinner date.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.30.20 PMMen’s Health Guy Food Guide – Heteronormative expectations not withstanding, a lot of guys are clueless in the kitchen. Men’s Health saves the day yet again with some of the best recipes you could ever hope to find to impress your lady. They’re tasty but simple enough for anyone with a few pots and pans to concoct. Highlight Recipe: Grilled Oysters with Chile Butter.

Planning the Perfect Bachelor(ette) Party

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 10.05.19 PMThis is it. You were flattered when your friend asked you to be the best man or maid of honor, but now, after you’ve been so thoroughly burnt out from helping choose the right tux or dress, hand-stamping all the invites, booking the hotels for out-of-towners, registering the couple for gifts and a mountain of other responsibilities, you have to worry about making his or her final night before taking the plunge one to remember. It’s enough to tell the bride or groom to be that it’s time to find someone else. But before you throw in the towel, take a few deep breaths and bear with us for a moment. Planning a bachelor or bachelorette party might seem like the straw to break a tired groomsman’s back, but with a few simple clicks and calls a perfect night can be planned. If you’re sweating over coming up with the right idea, we’re here to help: here are some of our favorite tips and ideas for planning an unforgettable bachelor or bachelorette party:

 

For the Bachelor

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.38.25 PMBeer and Video GamesFor some, a big and involved party can pile on the stress of an already sweat-inducing pre-wedding. Your best bet might be getting the guys together for an Xbox tournament if your groom is looking to relax instead of party hard. “If the groom is the sedentary type, consider renting terminals at a video-gaming lounge for a couple hours,” says Askmen. “Or, if the party’s on a tight budget, set up a video game tournament in your living room, and order pizza.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.39.47 PMGolf – A golfing trip can be the perfect way to have some competitive fun and give the groom the time to relax he needs. “Take a relaxing weekend away at a resort at or near a golf course, maybe sneak in a massage, and don’t give too many details to your very jealous pedicure-impaired fiancée at home,” recommends My Wedding. If you pick the right place, you’ll have plenty of time for a good dose of debauchery, too.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.41.20 PMMusic Festival – If your buddy’s a music fan, there’s no better getaway than a music festival – three or four days of sun, good food, great beer and better music, all with his best friends. It’s a party that he’ll never forget and have no trouble relating to his wife later on. “Drinking and dancing are standard bachelor party pastimes, but take it up a notch by attending a music festival,” says TravelChannel.com. “These events often feature multiple performers, supply plenty of food and drinks and allow you to mix with a crowd that’s also in the mood to celebrate.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.42.24 PMScavenger Hunt – Yes, this seems like something that could have made it into the bachelorette section (actually, it did). But you’d be surprised at how much more fun a night out drinking can be when there’s a game involved. “When I planned one of my friend’s bachelor parties in Las Vegas we had him complete a bucket list/scavenger hunt with pictures,” says Sick Night. “It made the trip much more interesting and fun.” Give high points for weird shots and pictures with strangers.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.43.45 PMGo Whiskey Tasting – All the fun of going wine tasting without having to tell any of your friends you went wine tasting. I went whiskey tasting with a friend the last time I was in Chicago, and you wouldn’t believe how good it starts to taste when the price tag rises. “This one ain’t cheap,” says The Plunge. “But arranging your own private “tasting” at a posh whiskey bar lets you class-up an ordinary bar experience.” Most bars will allow this kind of night, so go for it.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.45.19 PMGet Extreme – There’s nothing like seeing that look of terror on your best friend’s face. ”The plunge into marriage will seem like a piece of cake if the bachelor jumps from a plane at 10,000 feet first,” says Beau Coup. “If the idea of skydiving doesn’t thrill your crew, try bungee jumping, hang gliding, scuba diving, surfing, rock climbing, mountain climbing or even ‘shark hunting’ (observing sharks while scuba diving).” Good luck not talking about the coral reef you swam across for twenty years after the marriage.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.46.37 PMGo-Karts – You’ll finally be able to live out your nights spent up playing Mario-Kart. Go-Karting might seem a little juvenile, but aren’t we all? It’s a great way to get competitive and get your endorphins pumping. And if you’re on the east coast, check out the Washingtonian’s suggestion: “Help your groom live out his NASCAR fantasy at Dover’s ‘Monster Mile’ speedway. Amateur racers can suit up for driving orientation and instruction, then navigate genuine race cars at speeds up to 120 mph.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.47.47 PMWhatever you land on, make sure everyone chips in – Paying the way for the groom’s weird older brothers is the last thing you need to do for the bachelor party. “This is the most important aspect for you… the Master of Ceremonies,” says WePay. “Nothing will ruin your experience more than chasing grown ass men for money.” As the best man, you’re expected to plan the party, not pay for it. Make sure you (and your wallet) are not taken for granted. If you’re struggling with getting your buddies to pay up, try using WePay and save yourself the headache.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.48.45 PMPlan (months) ahead – Believe it or not, your buddy isn’t the only one getting married next summer. If your party involves anything that needs to be booked, get it done ASAP. “If you’re planning a trip to a popular locale (read: Vegas) the best prices will be available early,” says Staggered. “Late deals aren’t what they once were, and it’s a risky strategy to leave it to the last minute if you’re planning for a big group.” Don’t end up drinking beer in the basement. Plan ahead.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.49.41 PMMake sure everybody’s looking good – Too often, guys associate bachelor parties with sloppiness. Even if that’s how the night ends, you’ll want to start it looking good. “Nothing will kill a buzz quicker than walking into a bar swarming with scantly-clad women ready for their next body shot, only to discover your part-time barista hipster friend wasn’t allowed inside because he’s rocking Jesus sandals and a Phish shirt,” says Outspoken Groom. “Avoid the frustration ahead of time and tell the guys what attire they should bring.” Remember: the groom is getting married, but the rest of the party isn’t.

 

For the Bride to Be

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.51.14 PMPool Party – If you’re planning on a budget, you’d be shocked at how far a pool can go. With a little decoration, the right theme and a few drinks, your friends pool can turn from a suburban puddle to a far-out vacation. “If you’re sticking around your hometown for the party, make it feel more like a girl’s getaway by paying a day fee at a luxe nearby hotel that has a cool pool scene,” recommends Cosmopolitan. “Relax in your bikinis, order frozen cocktails, and get mani-pedis or massages.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.52.41 PMThe Photoshoot – Who doesn’t like a great picture of themselves? Planning a photoshoot is an insanely fun (and usually kind of cheap) way to get the bride and her friends laughing. You can choose from and endless list of themes – everything from Victorian ladies to 50’s pin-up girls have been reported successes for bachelorette photo-ops. “When it comes to bachelorette get-togethers, photos fall into two camps: pretty yet predictable group shots and candids that practically come with their own ‘no-Facebook sharing’ policy,” says Bridal Guide. “Strike a happy medium with this creative mugshot idea, where you can capture the entire group the next morning. How cute is the ‘Maid of Dishoner?’” Head to their site for the evidence.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.53.42 PM Hire a Flair Bartender – If you’re hoping to get some drinks with your girls but don’t want to subject yourselves to a crowded bar, think about hosting an at-home catered party with a flair bartender. You’ll be amazed at the bravado that can go into a cocktail, and many offer quick classes along with their services. Gig Salad agrees, and can help you book one of your own: “If you have a dinner party at your own house or private venue, then you may want to hire a caterer to handle the food for you and a bartender to pass out cocktails or glasses of wine. Or to spice up the party a little, hire a flair bartender! Your guests can be entertained by juggling, flipping and magic tricks while enjoying professionally mixed drinks.” Head to their site for help on finding one in your area.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.54.56 PMWine Tasting – Not fond of drinking at home or at the bar? A wine tasting lets you escape the normal trappings of fermented grapes and will introduce you to new palates you could have only dreamed of before. If you’re up to the challenge, Customized Girl suggests taking it a step further and embarking on a wine tour: “Going on a tour of local wineries combines lots of interests into one. First there’s great wine; second, there’s a road trip; third, there’s beautiful scenery. And did we mention great wine?”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.56.31 PMShoe Decorating – Send your guests home with a craft they can actually get something out of. Decorating shoes is a great way to get your girls thinking, talking and laughing. Off Beat Bride suggests using TOMS: “A Style Your Soule party is people coming together to express themselves and help children in need by customizing their own blank, canvas TOMS. It’s a charitable and creative good time.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.57.20 PMMake sure there’s something for everyone – Believe it or not, not everyone in your party will be into a grueling hike or a craft party. If you’ve got a few days to get the girls together, take advantage of it. “Whether out on the town or sitting around a bottle of champagne and games at home, bachelorette parties should be low-pressure and fun for everyone,” says Minnesota Bride. “Planning a few different activities for the party helps ensure all guests will find something to their liking.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.58.10 PMThat said, don’t go overboard – Once you hit your party-planning stride, it’s hard to know when to stop. But just because you can plan 45 fun activities for one day doesn’t mean you should. Remember, there’s a good chance the bride will be pretty stressed out by this point. It’s important that she has fun, but make sure there’s time to relax. “Plan one ‘big night’ where everyone gets together and rages against the bringing up of the bar lights. And after that, take it easy,” suggests Jezebel.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 9.59.39 PMSlumber Party – After all, this is the last time to have fun before the bride’s officially an adult, right? It’s hard not to smile while you’re acting like a kid, and a slumber party is a great way to do so. Get some bad movies, a bottle of wine, and gossip in your PJ’s. “The ultimate girls-only gathering, a slumber party, is a good way to get in touch with your roots – especially if you and the bride are childhood friends,” says The Knot. “Just pick a place to crash – the maid with the biggest couch wins of course!”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 10.00.42 PMTake a Painting Class – Get those creative juices flowing. Like shoe decorating, taking a painting class will exercise your party’s brains and get everyone talking and laughing. And if you book a private party, remember: you’re dealing with artists, so alcohol will likely be welcomed. “Get creative while you sip and gossip with the girls,” says She Finds. “You’ll walk away with a visual memory of your fabulous bachelorette party, as well as a new piece of art.”

 

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 10.02.33 PMScavenger Hunt – This idea can go so much farther than poking around for Easter eggs. You can apply it to just about any theme – play paparazzi on a celebrity hunt in New York, save a prize for whoever can find the worst antique from a junk shop – and let loose on the city. “It is a great way to get everyone involved and is easily incorporated into any bachelorette party theme,” says Punch Bowl. “Have everyone split into teams to try to accomplish a list of outlandish things before the night is over. This idea is fun and memorable for the entire party.”

An Interview with E-llure.com CEO Maurice Trentel

Pic4Are you looking for an online community? One filled with an opportunity for thoughtful interaction, while searching for a potential lover? Well the creators of dating website, E-llure.com, might have what you are looking for. Below the site’s president and ceo, Maurice Trental, explains why you should give this site a chance.

What inspired E-llure.com?

The site’s founder stated, “The reason for starting E-llure was to fill a void that other pure social networking or online dating sites were ignoring.  I felt that there was a great need for professional and successful adults to have a place to discuss critical issues online in our forums or just chat with people within a safe and platonic environment.  Our web site now enables people from around the world to email, chat, or talk and discover more about each other in a safe and neutral environment that is available with a single click.”  E-llure is a great way to meet millions of interesting new people from around the world in a matter of minutes with the possibility of building great friendships that can last a life time.  Site visitors can easily register at E-llure.com to get started with personal matches, scheduled events, speed-dating, coordinated groups and forums, and plenty of other exciting features.

E-llure.com was to create a website that nourished the mind, invigorated the soul, and led to meaningful relationships between consenting adults online.  About 9 years ago, I had several friends that were utilizing online dating sites and they had become disillusioned with romance because many of the people they encountered were liars or dishonest.  I felt inspired to create an online dating site that was more than a ‘hookup central’ but a place where people could socialize online for hours at a time with other intelligent and successful adults from around the world.  So, I polled my friends and inquired as to what types of features and functionality would be necessary for them to stay online for hours at a time and stay engaged with other adults.  The responses were pretty similar in that everyone wanted to be able to see and talk to other people, chat anonymously, share pictures and other files, consult an objective person about relationship issues, and most of all share their individual profiles with other members.  So, E-llure.com contains all of those functionality and feature requests among many others that captivate members and result in great relationships between members that transcend cyberspace and lead to long-term romantic friendships.

What’s your story?

I committed to developing E-llure.com so that like-minded, professional, and successful adults have a platform to communicate and find meaning relationships that may lead to marriage.  So, for the past 9 years I have tirelessly worked on creating the functionality and features of E-llure.com for the pleasure of others.  The website is my response to the void that currently exists within online dating sites which currently pit unhappy singles against each other for profit.  E-llure.com is pursuing a strategy of linking content, successful adults for the purpose of creating meaningful relationships.  The future of online dating rests in the vision of E-llure.com and I will continue to build a website which meets the demand of single adults around the world.

 

How does the site work?

E-llure.com operates similar to other online dating sites relative to member profiles, email capabilities, chat, and file uploads.  In addition to that standard functionality, E-llure.com offers video dating, live phone chat, file sharing, blogs, community event planning, speed dating events, affiliate refund programs, and many other great features for premium members.  All members can search member profiles and review emails sent from other members.  Premium members have the capability to utilize all products and features offered by E-llure.com online.

How is your site different from similar and traditional competitors?

E-llure website is different from other online dating sites because it automatically matches users’ profiles and enables users with similar interests and likes to identify each other more easily and connect whenever users choose.  E-llure also ensures the strongest online privacy for its members. All member information shared on this website is kept confidential and is only used for E-llure purposes and internal use only. E-llure will never knowingly distribute any member’s personal information to any third party or outside organization.  Nor does E-llure.com distribute any information that can potentially harm any member or be utilized for criminal purposes within or outside of the United States.

While searching the Internet, E-llure.com can be found by searching many key words such as internet dating, online dating site, online dating, meet men, meet women, free singles site, matchmaking, international dating, meetups, hookups, networking, friends, online matchmaking, free online dating chat, free dating site, connect with friends, top online dating, free online dating site, and many others.  E-llure is built around a thriving multi-level social community, allowing members to sign in and meet their match, share photos, create events, post blogs, build social groups and keep up to date with the latest news. Professionals can also use the site to publicize community events or social activities to extend their online and offline social circles as well as find that special someone.

The knowledgeable and supportive customer service staff of E-llure.com website is available 24×7 to answer all member questions.  E-llure also offers free relationship advice via our online dating gurus for relationship and dating safety tips.

The registration process has been designed to be simple, enabling new users to complete registration form, add photos, and complete payment within minutes.

Pic1Why is your site important to the industry?

E-llure is the most comprehensive and socially interactive website on the internet which guarantees to revolutionize internet social networking and online dating.  E-llure.com has a new and innovative approach which enables users to access private email, control panel, videos, blogs, chat rooms, issue forums, local and national community events, speed dating events, and much more as premium (monthly subscription) or standard users (free).  E-llure is also an internet dating site which allows members to add photos, biographies, select match qualities, favorites, and many other features so members can find other people that they would like to connect with in a romantic or platonic manner, the choice is yours.  The goal of E-llure is to become the global leader in online social networking and dating for professional and successful adults over the age of 21.

How long has the site been around and how has it grown?

E-llure.com initially came online in December of 2004.  Since its inception, E-llure.com has increased membership by over 200% and hopes to reach over 2,000,000 members by the end to 2013.

Who is attracted to your site?

E-llure.com attracts adults over the age of 21 from diverse backgrounds and cultures around the world.  We are open to people of all races, religions, ethnic groups, and sexual orientations who wish to meet other individuals within a safe, online environment.

FBPicAny favorite stories to share?

I received the following letter from a member in July of 2012:

“I would have to begin by saying that I was probably one of the biggest skeptics of internet dating. It actually took me five years to get started on E-llure.com after it had first been suggested to me. On my 25th birthday my mother very kindly pointed out that I had not been on a date in two years. She then suggested that I go on E-llure.com because a friend of ours had met her husband on E-llure.com and seemed really happy with it. I told her that she was crazy and I would never go on an internet dating site. She continued to pester me for a few months about it and I flatly refused to even consider it so she dropped it… or so I thought! On my 26th birthday she again asked me to go on E-llure.com and find a husband and again I flatly refused. After a couple more weeks of questioning me about it I told her that if I was still single on my 30th birthday, then I would look at E-llure.com. My aunt even offered to pay for it if I would sign up. I was certain that I would find someone in the next four years and not have to follow through with my promise. Six months before my 30th birthday my mom began to question me again about going on E-llure.com. I finally decided not to wait so I went online and signed up for the free trial. I called my aunt the following day and asked if her offer to pay for my membership still stood and she signed me up for three months.

In the first month I was on E-llure.com I talked to several guys through email and I even started talking to one on the phone but never got serious with any of them. I did talk to one match for three months and we agreed to meet for lunch because we were fairly local but we did not seem to click. However at the end of three months I had not found a solid match. My subscription ran out and I decided to take a break from E-llure.com for a while. A month later, in January 2009, I felt like I should try one more time to see what E-llure.com had to offer so I signed back on for three more months. I had several more matches and talked on the phone to one or two but saw no one I wanted to meet. In April I had two weeks left on my membership and I was very frustrated that I had not yet met anyone. Three days later I got matched with Lawrence from Illinois. I really didn’t think anything of it because I lived in Ohio and thought we would never meet.  I really liked his profile and he sent me the first communication. I answered his questions but I thought that since I only had two weeks left, the communication would not go very far. We began emailing every day and by the end of two weeks he asked for my phone number.

He called on a Sunday evening the first time and in his mind he had told himself that if we could talk for 20 minutes without it being awkward, he would call again. We talked for two hours that first time! After that he told himself that it was just a fluke and probably wouldn’t happen again. He called back on Wednesday evening and we talked for two and a half hours. We began talking twice a week and the calls got longer and longer. After a month of phone calls we were talking four to five hours a night. Lawrence asked what I would think if he said that he would like to come to Ohio to meet me. By that point I knew I was very interested in him and needed to meet him to see if it would go further. Lawrence flew to Ohio on the first weekend in June and I went to the airport to pick him up. I was so nervous that I felt queasy and I could hardly breathe. When he walked out of the airport I knew that I could very easily fall for him. We spent the first weekend talking and getting to know each other in person and on Saturday evening we went out to a movie and then sat down by the lake and talked until one in the morning. After that evening I knew that I could really fall in love with him but I was still skeptical whether it would really work out or not.  Before he flew back on Sunday, he asked if I would come to Illinois to meet his family and see where he lived. I flew down a month later for the fourth of July and met his family and friends. I was there for a week and I knew for sure that I wanted to marry him. I really enjoyed that I got to know him as a person: his thoughts, desire, goals, and dreams- through E-llure.com before the infatuation of being together because that really helped me see him clearly as the whole person that he is. I know now that the dating process works better that way.

After that trip we made plans for Lawrence to come to Ohio the first week of August and we began to talk about hypothetical wedding plans. By the time he arrived in August we had already planned half of the wedding! I picked him up from the airport and on the way home he asked if we could go sit by the lake where we had talked the first weekend. When we got there it was about sunset and Lawrence got down on his knee and pulled out a ring. I said YES! We immediately started calling everyone and telling them. I started by saying that I was E-llure.com’s biggest skeptic but now I tell everyone that it really can work. Thank You!”

Pic3What’s next?

E-llure.com is pursuing global growth and will continue to expand our online offerings as members are constantly requesting.  The next website features which will be launched are affiliate programs which will enable members to be compensated for referring others members who join E-llure.com.  In addition, we are enabling community and private event planning modules which allow members to market events and process event fees online via E-llure.com.

To find out more about E-llure and to create a profile, visit E-llure.com.

About E-llure: Join now and search for other singles immediately.  E-llure is an online social networking and dating site with blogs, chat rooms, speed dating, videos, news, and much more.  E-llure.com assists people who would like to connect with other like-minded successful professionals or create their own personal forums and blogs for discussion with others in a safe online environment.

E-llure is dedicated to providing professional and successful adults with online social networking and dating experiences which are safe and rewarding.

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The Woman-Friendly Man Cave

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.35.59 PMThere’s an indescribable freedom that comes with renting your first, solo apartment. No parents to abide by, no roommate to tolerate, the only rules to adhere to are those of your landlord (and sometimes, not even her). It’s exhilarating to make your first bachelor pad your own, and it’s a rite of passage in which all men should participate. But unless you intend to be the only one to ever see this place, there are some boundaries that you’ll have to acknowledge. If you’ve found that your apartment has been ending your dates a few hours too early, we’re here to help. Here are the guiding lights of setting up your woman-friendly man cave:

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.09.05 PMHang some artwork – If you’ve never stepped foot inside an art gallery, we’re not asking you to buy a Monet print that you’ll end up hating. But decorating your walls with something other than beer posters goes a long way. “This is a great opportunity for you to showcase personal attributes or interests that really speak to the type of person you are,” says Every Guyed. “Whether it is your favorite poster, or a place to store your bicycle, just remember that presentation is just as important as function.” If you’re really against artwork, frame a nice poster of your favorite band or a good rendering of a sports hero. Frames will work hard to make your apartment look nice.

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.13.27 PMKeep some unisex amenities on hand – Few women will feel at home using your Axe shower gel. You don’t have to stock up on lavender-scented shampoo or keep a women’s razor in your shower (in fact, that might make her a little suspicious), but it’s important to maintain a bathroom that won’t make your date feel like she just woke up in a stranger’s dorm room. “Pro tip: get a good hair dryer,” says Guy’s Gab. “Trust me, it’s a simple trick but is very much appreciated when staying over at a guy’s house. Keep good stock of her favorite shower gels, shampoos and conditioners – just because you may not use conditioner doesn’t mean she will choose to live without it!”

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.15.41 PMPay attention to your lighting – Remember how awful it felt to bake under those fluorescent panels in high school? It’s usually one of the last things you’ll think about, but the way your bachelor pad is lit can make or break its appearance. You don’t want your living room to be vampire-dark or bright enough for a photo shoot. “Here is your basic rule of thumb: overhead lighting sucks,” suggests Just a Guy Thing. “Why? Overhead lighting muddles things. It casts horrible shadows on people’s faces – transforming perfectly nice looking people into ogres, giving them dark circles under their eyes, large noses, and blotchy skin.” It’s important to make your date feel comfortable, and you’d be shocked at how quickly bad lighting can prevent that.

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.17.01 PMStick to a theme – If your couch, TV, kitchen and rug all look they could have come from different decades, your pad will feel more chaotic than welcoming. It’s important to have your furniture and decorations complement each other. It sounds petty, but it’s not: anyone (date or not) will feel much more comfortable in a room that doesn’t feel like it fell out of the back of a Goodwill truck. “Think about what materials you’d like to see in your house and what overall effect you’d like to have emerge from the décor,” says Guy Life. “As far as theme goes (especially in the city), going modern and simplistic is always the best bet. It looks great, it’s easy to maintain and spaciousness is always welcome in a house, which is exactly what a theme like this ensures.”

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.20.27 PMRid your place of any signs of an ex – Nothing will make a woman feel unwelcome like a picture of your ex stuck on your fridge. “Hide, throw away, and burn all signs of ex-girlfriends!” warns Ask Men. “Be sure that she doesn’t see any pictures of your ex; there’s nothing worse than her seeing your ghosts, and all it will do is make her insecure and give her reason to shut herself off from you.” This goes beyond pictures – any small gifts, sentiments or mixtapes need to go. If you’re too attached to something from your past relationship, it may indicate you’re not ready for a new one.

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.21.40 PMKeep a few drinks ready – We are in no way advocating bringing someone home to get them drunk, but even if you’re not planning on bringing a date home, you’d be surprised at how much more you’ll love your place when you can make yourself a nice drink. Keep a bottle or two of your favorite liquor and a nice bottle of wine – you might even consider a liquor cabinet. “Every man needs a cabinet to store his drinks,” says The National. “The stunning Tessen Bar cabinet has an Asian-inspired fan pattern hand-carved on the mahogany cupboard doors and it comes with interior storage for bottles and bar ware.” Check out the rest of their article for more suggestions.

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.23.22 PMPut the meds away – No one’s perfect, and unfortunately, some people are more prone than others to make a fast judgment, especially when a pending relationship is on the line. Orange bottles are an immediate attention-flag, and you might not want to advertise any medical or psychological hang-ups on the first few dates. “There’s nothing worse than having her wonder why you have Viagra on your bathroom sink,” says Dear Annabelle. “Even if there’s a perfectly logical reason why you have it, she’ll think you can’t get it up. Keep meds hidden away for now.”

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.26.04 PMMake your home entertaining – You won’t want your date to get bored on her first few trips to your apartment. You don’t have to go in debt for a nice entertainment center, but at least keep a few things around the house to keep her occupied. This could be a nice movie collection or a good coffee-table book. Valeria recommends the Wii: “If you have the space, nothing creates more opportunities for physical fun with a girl than a Nintendo Wii. The mere hint of Wii and white wine will be enough to get most girls very excited about making their first trip over to your place.”

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.31.32 PMKeep clean towels and bedding – When you’re living on your own, cleaning your sheets and towels regularly might not be your first priority. But if you want the slightest chance of someone feeling at home in your man cave, you’ll need to keep these things clean. Just because you can’t tell that something is dirty doesn’t mean someone else won’t be able to. Vanity Fair suggests keeping a matching towel set: “You don’t live in a frat, you don’t have a roommate, and you are presumably not colorblind, so why do you have towels of different size and color? Please walk over to the closet where you keep your mishmash of assorted towels that you have probably had since you got you’re your first apartment… and burn them. Get a set of white towels that are all the same shape and size, with washcloths to match.”

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 3.33.17 PMMake sure you feel comfortable – Take all this advice with a grain of salt. This is, after all, your home. If you’re bending over backward to make someone feel comfortable at the expense of your own wellbeing, it isn’t worth it. “Be proud of your home,” says Apartment Therapy. “If the girl hates it and dumps you, then you dodged a bullet and therefore should be thanking your lucky stars.”