10 Cheap Date Ideas That Won’t Make You A Cheapskate – Part 2

In this post, Find Keep Love continues the theme of 10 Cheap Date Ideas That Won’t Make You A Cheapskate – Part 1, looking at a few more cheap date ideas that won’t break the bank and won’t make you appear to be a cheapskate.

6. Use vouchers & take advantage of special deals/offers

There are a multitude of voucher/deal applications for smartphones available: Groupon, LocalSocial [Android], vouchercloud [Apple and Android], and HotUKDeals [Apple and Android] are some examples. If you’re embarrassed to use a voucher in front of your date/partner, why not call ahead and book and mention it while you’re doing that (in fact, some deals require that). Or you can always fake a trip to the restroom and slyly make your way to the cashier to sort out the bill, rather than calling it to the table. You’ll not only gain points on the chivalry front, but you’ll get a great deal on the meal. For UK-based restaurant vouchers and deals, check out this post at Money Saving Expert.

7. Ten pin bowling

A ten pin bowling date can be an immensely fun date and many bowling alleys incorporate pool/snooker tables, bars and video games, so there’s plenty to do. Often nearby are restaurants, movie theatres and even nightclubs. You can relive dates of decades past at a retro bowling alley or immerse yourself in one with the latest gaming technology – there’s cosmic bowling, for example, with the latest beats and glow-in-the-dark pins.

8. Go to a local fair, market or other special event

Every weekend you will find local fairs, markets and other special events taking place across the UK. There are music festivals (the more commercial ones will cost a significant chunk of cash, but there are many free ones, too), beer festivals, food festivals, cultural festivals, dancing festivals… the list goes on. Check out your town/city/village’s local newspaper or magazine – in print or online – for upcoming events. You’ll find there’s always something on… to do something you both enjoy, or get out of your comfort zones with something new and interesting.

9. Be a tourist in your own town

People often think they have to travel far away – perhaps to exotic locations – to be a tourist, but you can always be a tourist in your own town. With a little research you can always find something new and interesting to do – sometimes we take our own place of living for granted and overlook some great things to do – and save on flights, accommodation, and so on. Things that might actually be staring us in the face, on our own doorstep, that we lose sight of. The local newspaper or magazine will have a list of things in it that just might surprise you. There could be a new restaurant, bar or coffee shop, or there may be a visiting performer or art exhibition. Fall in love with the place you live all over again.

10. Heat up some popcorn & have a movie night in

You don’t always have to go outside for a date – watching a romantic movie, cuddled up together at home on the couch or in bed, perhaps sharing a bowl of popcorn or some chocolate treats, is a great way to enjoy each other’s company. Some supermarkets have some great meal deals designed for couples to have a night off cooking without having to resort to junk food – my local M&S, for example, has a Dine In For £10 deal on select days. For some movie date ideas, check out these Find Keep Love posts:

So, in summary, in addition to the five ways in Part 1, ten cheap dates that won’t make you (seem like) a cheapskate are

1. A coffee date
2. Visit a National Park & enjoy the great outdoors
3. Visit a National Trust property
4. Go on a day trip on a bus or train
5. Go for a walk/jog/run/cycle somewhere together
6. Use vouchers & take advantage of special deals/offers
7. Ten pin bowling
8. Go to a local fair, market or other special event
9. Be a tourist in your own town
10. Heat up some popcorn & have a movie night in

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Online Dating – Tips & Advice To Stay Safe Online

The internet offers so many different and exciting opportunities to explore, share information, and meet new people. In Part 1: Find Love. Step 3. (Where To) Start Looking For Love., internet/online dating was introduced as one of the common places to look for love, which was then extended in Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love. Find Keep Love also covered the potential of Facebook as a dating tool in Online Dating – Could A Facebook Dating App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site?

But using the internet can put you at risk of illegal activities or abuse, including bullying, fraud, cyber crime or something more serious. Unlike seeing someone face to face, people aren’t always what they first seem in the digital world. In this post, Find Keep Love looks at how to stay safe online, so that you can utilise the huge potential of the internet to enjoy meeting new friends and date safely.

  • Protect your privacy on social networking sites. Almost everyone nowadays is connected via one or more social network, such as Facebook, Google+, Sina Weibo [Chinese], LinkedIn, Bebo and so on. Check your social media privacy settings and the information you are allowing into the public domain and to your connections. The abundant personal information available on such sites is a predator’s dream come true. Set up privacy restrictions to give only trusted people access to personal information and activities. Do not give strangers access to your social networking sites, but if you must connect with strangers for some reason (some games encourage you to build a large social network), make sure you restrict their access.
  • Understand the settings for your GPS and geolocation services on your electronic devices, as well as your social media networks. Consider turning off the GPS on your mobile phones and cameras, unless you want people to know where you are. You may be inadvertently be posting your location when you post photos, status updates, and so on. To keep your location private, avoid sending or posting images from GPS-enabled devices.
  • Don’t give out private personal information online. Unless you are 100% sure of the person you are giving it to, of course. Use discretion when deciding what information to reveal about yourself, but never, ever disclose private information such as bank details, your passport number, account passwords, and so on.
  • Keep your login information and passwords private and secure. Your passwords are the most common way to prove your identity when using websites, email accounts and even your computer itself (via User Accounts). Avoid public or shared computers where login information can be saved or cached, and avoid automatic login features and do not save passwords to avoid entering a password. The use of strong (varied and difficult) passwords is essential to protect your security and identity. The best security in the world is useless if a malicious person has a legitimate user name and password. Here are some tips for choosing the best passwords:

Password Dos:

  • Choose a password with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols such as @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +. For example, SP1D3Rm@n – a variation of Spiderman, with letters and numbers, upper and lower case. But be aware that some of these punctuation marks may be difficult to enter on foreign keyboards.
  • Choose a password containing at least eight characters. Longer passwords are harder for criminals to guess or break.

Password Don’ts:

Don’t use the following as passwords:

  • Your username, actual name or business name.
  • Family members’ or pets’ names.
  • Your birthday or the birthdays of family members.
  • Favourite sports team or other words easy to work out with a little background knowledge of your likes and dislikes.
  • The word ‘password’ (you’d be surprised how many people use this as their deafult password!).
  • Numerical sequences.
  • A commonplace dictionary word, which could be cracked by common hacking programs.
  • Protect your computer from viruses, malware and spyware. Use software, such as free software like Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast, AVG or McAfee’s free virus removal tools.
  • Make sure you’re using a reputable online dating service, chat site or phone app. There are many, many dodgy internet sites, and a number of these are dating sites wanting to exploit those seriously looking for love. For our recommended websites and phone apps, check out our post on Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love. Make sure you read the dating site or app’s terms of service and privacy policy. This can be difficult at times, because many privacy policies seem to be written in the most confusing language possible. Here are some things you should look for:
  • A dating site should provide online security – HTTPS
  • It should delete all your personal data after you close the account.
  • It should be upfront about how it shares your personal information with other members.
  • It should be upfront about who else gets to see your data.
  • It should indicate whether the dating site shares your e-mail address with third parties.
  • Does it give you a chance to opt out?
  • Does it provide the name of a real human being to contact if you have questions?
  • Use an email address without your full name or use a pseudonym or nickname. If you use a work or personal email account, your full name may appear on any email you send. With your full name and location, someone may find your address and even phone number via people search websites like 192.com. To get around this, we suggest you get a free email account (for example, from Yahoo Mail, Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com) and avoid using your last name. You may even want to use a different first name – try making up a fun nickname like “StaticKitten”. This nickname doesn’t need to be your screen name.
  • Take your time and don’t rush into things. Do not feel compelled or pressured to do anything you are not completely comfortable with. The online world allows for anonymity, which can work for you and against you. Start with a few emails back and forth or use online chat (some dating websites offer this as part of their package), then a few phone calls, before meeting in person. A highly recommended alternative to the phone is Skype, which offers free video calls over the internet and cheap calls to phones. There are also a number of smartphone apps, like Line, WhatsApp*, ooVoo, Viber and Tango that offer various combinations of free messaging and audio/video calling.
    *WhatsApp is now a paid service.
  • Be aware that webcams and Skype calls may be recorded. Be extremely wary about removing clothes or doing other private things in front of your webcam, which could be used against you, even if you feel comfortable with and think you know the other party. It is really easy these days to record both video and audio using a number of different software packages. Some chat websites, for example, cache live images to show on your profile. Webcam blackmail is becoming more commonplace, where fraudsters record your webcam then use the recording to extort money. Emails, messages, screen captures and so on can be forwarded to others at the click of a button, so be careful what you do and say.
  • When you do meet your new date (especially the first time), do it with a friend and in a public place. If you can’t arrange a friend to be there physically with you (or nearby), at least tell a friend or family member and check in with them at some stage during the date.
  • Never leave or go home with them. Be wary if they suggest going somewhere more private (unless the date is going well and heading in that direction). If you begin to feel uncomfortable (in a more serious way, not those normal dating jitters) or unsafe, leave the situation as soon as possible.
  • Report any attacks or threats to the police immediately.

Are you as safe as you should be online? Have you ever had a bad experience with someone or something online?

With these tips – and following the dos and don’ts in our post on Part 1: Find Love. First Date Dos and Don’ts – you’ll ensure your date is both safe and enjoyable.

A special thanks goes to Alastair at CitizenArc for providing a number of useful tips for this article. CitizenArc is a West London-based computer support service offering technical support and professional training for individuals and businesses, specialising in Apple Mac and iOS.

For more information on staying safe online, check out Google’s post on How you can stay safe and secure online.

Online Dating – Could A Facebook Dating App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site?

Facebook-Dating-Apps

Something I’ve been wondering lately is why Facebook doesn’t get involved in online dating? One of the biggest problems with online dating is knowing whether or not a site is reputable (after all, you’d be giving them your personal information, including perhaps your credit card details), but another problem is working out how many of the users they claim to have are actually active (and REAL). Having a large and active user base is the holy grail for most dating sites.

There are a number of sites who exaggerate their numbers, but there are even worse sites who create fake profiles to seem more popular than they are (then disappoint their customers when they don’t get many replies!). This is more common with adult sites, and it’s even harder to tell on those kinds of sites, as people try to be as anonymous as possible, creating further doubt.

I’m sure someone else has already thought of this idea long before me (I know there are some apps already not sanctioned by Facebook themselves though), but with a database of users as large as Facebook’s why don’t Facebook themselves try their own dating service? Users could opt in to the service, which could be in the form of an app, and like other apps, users can choose their own privacy settings depending on whether or not they want their friends (and the general public) to know that they’re looking (you might get unwanted date invites from your friends and colleagues!). You could create a dating profile using the details from the user’s Facebook profile with the click of a few buttons… and if anyone’s used online dating before, you’ll know that writing an online profile is really tedious, and selling yourself in this respect is an art form in itself (there is a business in writing online dating profiles!).

Your Facebook page would already have quite a lot about your likes/dislikes, your interests, and maybe even more (like your religion if you have one, your political views, and so on). It would only take someone to write a smart matching algorithm to match potential mates using the wealth of information available on Facebook. Facebook users could opt in or out of the service at the click of a button. With reportedly over one billion active users, it could potentially be the biggest and most useful dating app/site in the world. Food for thought perhaps?

Imagine personalised recommendations, for a potential partner or even just a friendship, that partnered you with relevant people. For example: Matt, you and Belinda both enjoy mountain biking and hiking, watching action movies, travelling around Asia, eating at Italian restaurants, and are looking for a long-term relationship with a view to marriage. Much better than “Hey, you have 10 friends in common! How about it?”, I think.

Some existing Facebook dating apps include ZooskSpeedDate and Online People, but there’s much room for improvement (none of these are actually very good). For traditional online dating websites and smartphone apps, check out our post on Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love.

What do you think? Do you think a dating site spun off from Facebook profiles – like Facebook Dating – is a good idea?

Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love

A few weeks ago, I posted Step 3. (Where To) Start Looking For Love, and one of the places to start looking for love is online, otherwise known as online (or Internet) dating. There are a number of advantages to online dating: you can browse profiles without having to interact with anyone, and do so in the privacy of your own home. You can match up yourself with your preferred type of partner (and if you’re not sure of exactly what you want, see Step 2. Know Yourself & What You Really Want From A Partner for some help).

Online Dating Websites

A number of websites now use matching algorithms – some sophisticated, some not so – to help you find your ‘perfect match’. A couple of particular sites that use decent matching algorithms are eHarmony and OkCupid, and Plenty Of Fish claims to have the “world’s most advanced matching system” and has over a million users worldwide. The best thing about Plenty Of Fish is that it is free to use, but many dating websites are either free to browse (paid membership required to contact others) or have an inexpensive trial membership. Also, with reportedly over one billion active users, Could A Facebook App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site? Badoo uses your Facebook login details and has over 180 million users for new friends, chatting and dating, and is linked with the smartphone app Blendr (see below).

Another popular, reputable (and well advertised!) dating site is Match.com, and in the UK, a number of newspapers have their own dating websites where you can meet like-minded individuals. For example, The Guardian has Soulmates and The Telegraph has Telegraph Dating.

Specialist/Alternative Online Dating Websites

There are also a number of less mainstream, more specialised dating websites to find someone of a particular type:

Smartphone/Mobile Dating Apps

And finally, with smartphones becoming more and more popular, there are now a number of phone applications that can help you meet new people, and perhaps your future partner. Skout is an example of a smartphone app that uses GPS technology to find someone near you when you’re out and about. You can chat (and flirt) with someone, and exchange photos, until you’re ready to meet in person – and Skout never reveals your exact location or phone number. You can stay relatively anonymous until you’re ready to give more information out. The Skout app is free and available from the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. For the gay male community, there’s Grindr. You might also like to check out Joseph Atkins’s post on the 25 Best Free Gay Dating Apps. Blendr is patterned after Grindr and is the “straight” version of this app. The online dating sites Match.com and eHarmony have also joined the smartphone revolution with their own apps: Match.com mobile and eHarmony mobile.

So with all those tools and websites at your disposal, all there is left to do now is go for it! You can also check out our post on Online Dating – Could A Facebook Dating App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site? and learn how to perfect your online dating profile in Online Dating – Creating A Successful Online Dating Profile.

Part 1: Find Love. Step 3. (Where To) Start Looking For Love.

So you’ve taken the first step to finding love and learnt to love yourself (Step 1. Love Yourself), and you’ve got a good understanding of who you are and what you want from a relationship/partner (Step 2. Know Yourself & What You Really Want From A Partner). Now you want to find love and a special person, but where do you start looking? In this post, we’ll go through a few of the common places to start looking for love, and look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Internet/Online Dating

You’ve probably all heard of internet/online dating, and many of you may have tried it at least once or twice in some form or another. With so many different websites out there, it can be hard to tell which ones are worthwhile, which are reputable, and which ones have predominately real profiles (a good handful of sites use fake profiles to seem more popular and full of “like-minded people like YOU”!). A discussion on online dating could fill several blog posts, so I’ll keep this brief for now, but there will be other posts on the ins and outs of this form of dating throughout the year. There is still some stigma attached to internet dating sites – often that if you are on an online dating site that there’s something wrong with you or that you’re ‘spoiled goods’. But almost everyone is connected to the internet now and it is fairly easy to use modern technology to your advantage to help you find love – there are a multitude of smartphone apps now, too. For the best online dating websites, including specialised/alternate ones and smartphone/mobile dating apps, check out Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love. Also, with reportedly over one billion active users, Could A Facebook App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site?

Bars/Nightclubs

For those in their late teens and 20s, it is quite easy to meet potential partners at a bar or nightclub, and for this kind of age group, it isn’t socially awkward to be at such a place. Personally, although I met many prospective partners at bars and clubs, I never seemed to meet exactly the right girl for me. Alcohol can be a great social lubricant for meeting new people and is in plentiful abundance in such establishments. The good news for everyone is that it is a fallacy that you need to be young or a heavy drinker or a lover of house music – particularly in bigger cities like London and Tokyo, there are themed bars and clubs for all different tastes and ages… it isn’t just for the young’uns. There are jazz bars, cocktail lounges, salsa bars, cabaret – the list goes on and on.

Friends/Family

How many times have your friends or family offered, with their best intentions, to set you up with someone they know who is “just perfect for you”, yet it turns out to be far from the truth. This experience can range from awkward to just plain horrible. Sure, there are some success stories out there, but more often than not, the family- or friend-arranged date doesn’t work amazingly well. A lot of things need to line up in your favour for it to work. Does your family member or friend really know you and your wants/needs, as well as those of your prospective partner? Too many times they judge you on what they think you want, not what you actually want. It’s hard enough sometimes for us to know what we really want ourselves, let alone someone else making this judgement for us! Arranged relationships – or even arranged marriages – can be convenient, but I don’t think it’s a sure-fire way of finding love.

Hobby/Social Clubs

For those who are uncomfortable with online dating or going to bars or nightclubs for whatever reason, and don’t trust their family or friends to find a suitable partner, find an activity that you love – one that also involves others – and join a hobby/social club. This could be a gym class, a dance class, a training course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, or a group/organisation that has similar values/beliefs/ideas to you. Here you may meet someone as passionate about you about a particular hobby or interest. On the other hand, this may also be an opportunity to try something completely different and do a new activity you may never have considered before. There are, of course, pros and cons to dating someone similar or different to you (see Dating Someone Similar Or Different – Opposites Attract?). Again the internet has made it simpler to meet new and likeminded people – try searching Facebook groups or pages or try the website Meetup. Meet new people, make new friends, and see what happens. You can find love in the strangest of places, at the most random times!

These are just some of the many examples of places you might find love or at least start looking for it. But keep one eye open at all times, love might turn up in the strangest of places – in a supermarket aisle, on the bus or train, at work or university. You might come across the love of your life taking out your garbage even. Love is all around us, and potential partners everywhere!

If you have a partner, where did you meet them? Was it a conventional way or unconventional? If you’re single, where have you been looking and how successful have you been?