Dating

101 Free or Cheap Date Ideas

1. Attend a county fair.
2. Attend a festival of a culture different from yours.
3. Attend a free home improvement class at a big box store.
4. Attend a high school sporting event.
5. Attend a lecture about a lecture you know nothing about.
6. Attend a political rally.
7. Attend a sporting event that isn’t baseball, basketball, football, or hockey.
8. Attend church services at a different denomination.
9. Babysit a friend or family member’s kid.
10. Binge watch a TV series you’ve never seen.
11. Borrow a croquet set and play in the backyard after a few beers.
12. Buy sidewalk chalk and play hopscotch.
13. Camp out in a pup tent in the backyard.
14. Check out a local observatory.
15. Check out free music at local bars or coffeehouses.
16. Do a free/low-cost fitness class.
17. Do as the Europeans: grab a baguette, cheese, fruit, & wine. Enjoy a sunset.
18. Dust off your belt buckle and go to a rodeo.
19. Enjoy some really bad karaoke.
20. Examine cool vintage vehicles at an auto show.
21. Experience a sunrise or sunset together.
22. Explore a new neighborhood or nearby town.
23. Feed geese at the nearest lake.
24. Find a bad movie on Netflix.
25. Find a free movie outside.
26. Find a free music festival.
27. Find bargains at estate sales.
28. Find the most useless kitchen utensil at the culinary store.
29. Fly a kite.
30. Get caught up in the excitement of roller derby.
31. Get free paint samples and then create a collage with them.
32. Get your picture taken with as many statues as you can find in town.
33. Go fishing.
34. Go for a long drive with no particular destination.
35. Go for a picnic.
36. Go mini-golfing.
37. Go on a hike.
38. Go on a photographic excursion. Take pictures of alphabet “letters.”
39. Go to a matinee.
40. Go to a poetry slam at a coffeehouse.
41. Go to open houses for expensive properties.
42. Go to Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods for free samples.

43. Go to Walmart and take a picture to submit to “People of Walmart.”
44. Grab your bowling shoes and hit the lanes.
45. Have a pillow fight.
46. Have a wine tasting at a local vineyard.
47. Hit the batting cages (not literally!).
48. Hit the local farmers’ market.
49. Hit the open mic night at a comedy club.
50. Hit the steepest hill and go sledding. Bonus points for an improvised sled.
51. Hit up some garage sales for a bargain.
52. If you can, find and old-fashioned drive-in movie theatre.
53. If you still have an arcade, play all the two-player games you can.
54. Learn a card trick on YouTube to impress your friends and family.
55. Learn a new board game.
56. Make a board game a strip version of whatever it is.
57. Make a dessert with a fruit you’ve never tried.
58. Make a high schoolers’ day – see a high school drama production.
59. Make a movie with nothing but an iPhone.
60. Make each other brunch.
61. Make scavenger hunts for each other.
62. Make up new constellations with names and backstories.
63. Make your own soap and blow bubbles outside.
64. March in a demonstration for a topic you’re passionate about.
65. Marvel at the beauty of a local butterfly garden.
66. ..Organize a game night with friends.
67. Organize a potluck with friends.
68. Participate in a First Friday celebration.
69. Patronize your local roller rink.
70. People-watch at the mall or airport.
71. Pick up a game of hoops at the park.
72. Play on the swings on the playground,
73. Play tennis in a local park.
74. Play trivia at a bar.
75. Put a jigsaw puzzle together.
76. Rake leaves for an older friend. Jump & play in them, then rake them up.
77. Roast marshmallows on the stove to make s’mores. (Please don’t set a fire!)
78. Run in the sprinkler in the backyard.
79. See all the creepy crawlies at the zoo.
80. See how long you can make $10 at your nearest casino.
81. See the smashy-smashy at a monster truck rally.
82. Shop for Halloween costumes at the thrift store.
83. Take a day and see how much crap you can sell on Craigslist.
84. Take a hike at a local state park.
85. Take a low-cost adult learning class in something you both suck at.
86. Take each others’ boudoir shots.
87. Take in a local art gallery.
88. Take in an arthouse movie.
89. Take your bikes out for a ride in the country.
90. Take your clubs to the driving range.
91. Test drive expensive cars.
92. Try a new sport like pickleball.
93. Turn a bad movie into a drinking game of your own rules.
94. Turn Scrabble in to drinking game with the rules of your choice.
95. Visit a pumpkin patch.
96. Visit a small museum.
97. Visit an organic farm.
98. Visit local haunted places at night – if you dare.
99. Volunteer together to walk dogs at the humane society.
100. Watch a movie in a pillow fort.
101. Write really bad poetry for each other.

Online Dating Safety for the Single Woman

Oh, the internet. It connects you with people from all over the world, and it allows you to meet men in the comfort of your own home, in your jammies.

Never has it been easier to find a date for this weekend, and it’s also never been easier to research a blind date before you even meet him. Still, there are some spooky people out there, and in the excitement of wanting to meet someone, common sense can go out the door.

This week I want to talk about some practical tips for dating safely online, mostly through my own personal experience. I will frame this by saying probably 97% of guys out there aren’t creepers (depending where you meet them). Unfortunately, a single girl can never be too careful. So take a look at the list below – divided into the different stages of online dating – to see if there is something you have been missing.

Chatting Online

  • There is no reason to divulge your last name, exactly where you work, or any other personal information until you meet this person face-to-face.
  • Only give your phone number (or accept his) if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Resist any pressure to give your number or reveal personal information if you’re not ready.
  • Unless you met on a fetish site, any dick pics or anything yucky like that is more than enough reason to block and report them. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • If your gut is telling you something is wrong, that’s probably for a very good reason. Do not ignore that intuition. The same goes for all the stages of a first date.

Texting/Talking on the Phone

  • This is the stage you can start to snoop. If you know his name or number, it’s not a bad idea to look him up on social media. Does everything he says check out? Or does something feel “off” about the situation? If something is weird, it is completely OK to ghost at this phase.
  • I still think this is not the time to give out personal information if you’re not ready, especially where you work.
  • Only suggest going out/accept his invite if you feel comfortable doing so.

Before the Date

  • First dates are best in public settings with lots of people and lights around. Coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants are all good ideas. Lightly attended movies and evening strolls through the park are not.
  • Give a trusted friend or family member your date’s picture and contact information, as well as when and where you are meeting up. Make this person your “date buddy.”
  • There is no good reason to let him pick you up. That is what your car, public transportation, or Uber is for.

During the Date

  • Make sure you text your buddy (from the restroom, obvi) to tell them you are fine.
  • You can also have your buddy call you during the date at a predetermined time to check on you.
  • First dates are usually best if kept on the shorter side. It’s best to set an end time beforehand with an excuse (early morning, a fictitious meeting, etc.) ready to go. That gives you a graceful exit out if the date is a bomb. Feel free to ignore this if the date is going well.
  • Enjoy yourself, but be aware of your surroundings. Do you know where the exits are? Has you purse been with you the whole time? Is there someone in the bar/restaurant/coffeehouse giving you the heebie-jeebies?

After the Date

  • Unless you are sure you want to end the date in the morning, don’t let him come to your house or vice versa.
  • Text your buddy to let them know you made it home OK.

These are just a few tips to ensure your own safety and give you peace of mind when meeting men online.

Is there anything I left off this list you think should be added? Comment below!

Woo Plus: A Dating Site for the Plus of Us!

Woo Plus_ A Dating Site for the Plus of Us!

Setting up an online dating profile.

There are a few things I can think of I would prefer to do—going to the dentist, listening to a Justin Bieber song, emptying my cat’s litter box…

It’s really not hard for me to write up a good profile. My problem is finding a picture I think I look good in and that will also attract gents online. Finding those pictures on my computer or phone are like looking for Bigfoot or finding Nessie—they just don’t exist.

Sadly, I have encountered a lot of size discrimination dating online, and I had pretty much given up. Until I read about WooPlus in recent a Mashable article. Needless to say, I was bouncing off the walls and literally shaking when I downloaded it, and I need to share it with you.

A dating site for people who aren’t a size two!

Basic features:

  • Iphone and Android app
  • Tinder-like feature of swiping right and left
  • Your “matches” only have 48 hours to respond to you
  • 24 matches a day unless you buy “coins” or invite friends to sign up
  • An Instagram-like feature that allows you to post a selfie and have people comment in real time

What I did: I created an account and answered some basic questions on location and interests (food, hobbies, movies, music, etc.). I also wrote a short paragraph to describe myself. There was also a “Details” section to talk about your appearance (height, body shape), personal information (occupation, ethnicity, religion) and lifestyle (kids, drinking, smoking).

Pros:

  • The app is super easy to use. Just like Tinder, you swipe right if you want a match, left if you don’t.
  • Though not all of them were, the majority of guys in my inbox were bigger. I happen to like bigger guys, but this might be a con for some women.
  • It is genuinely refreshing not to have to worry about what people will think of my size 20. Because this is a niche dating site, I felt very comfortable saying I am a rectangular plus size.

Cons:

  • Because it is a new app, there leaves a lot to be desired with location. The first couple days I tried it, the vast majority of men were in the UK, although as the weeks progressed, I did get a few matches from my home state of 1.7 million inhabitants.
  • You only get 24 matches a day. You get two “decks” of eight. After you wait five minutes, you get one more “deck” of eight. There were many days my first two “decks” were exactly the same eight men, regardless if I swiped right or left.
  • As far as I could tell, the only search criteria to narrow your matches was by age.
  • You only have 48 hours to hear back from a “match.” If they do not answer, they are deleted from your list.
  • Of course there were guys who had profile pictures with their exes, kids, of their pet or car, bathroom selfies (MAJOR PET PEEVE!), or a group shot where I couldn’t tell who was the guy in the profile. Why do people do that???

Overall impression: I do agree with the Mashable article that this site is very limited geographically. But as it expands, I genuinely hope it will be easier to find someone in your vicinity. All in all, I loved the app. The interface was super intuitive and simple. I never met anyone on a date for the two months I was on it, but I found the guys I chatted with to be nice enough. And I cannot overstate the fact how confident I felt as a plus-size woman on a site that was made for me.

Interested in WooPlus? How do you feel about a dating site where being plus-size is the norm? Comment below!

A Review of Plenty of Fish for the Single Plus-Size Woman

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Editor’s note: The following is part three of a four-part series investigating some of the more popular online dating sites as they apply to plus-size women.

Dating on a budget. We’ve all been there.

From getting creative about no- to low-cost dates to mentally calculating how much you can spend when you order out, many women have faced the struggle of dating while keeping an eye on the checkbook.

But what if you’re so strapped for cash you can’t afford dating sites like Match or eHarmony?

Enter Plenty of Fish (PoF).

I’ve had some experience with this site off and on through the years, and I want to share some of its features with you. Hopefully it will arm you with the information you need about whether or not you should try it!

 

Basic features:

  • iPhone and Android app, as well ask a desktop site
  • Answer basic personality questions to get paired for “chemistry”
  • Get matched with people in your city
  • Up to eight images in your profile
  • Ability to see who has viewed your profile
  • Inbox email messages to converse with potential matches
  • For plus-sized women, the option of “A few extra pounds” and “BBW” exist

What I did: I created an account and spent about 10 minutes cruising through the questions about my looks and dating history. I then answered open-ended questions about my personality/about me, another for my interests, and a third for what an ideal first date is for me.

Pros:

  • This site is pretty intuitive to use. It’s easy to narrow your search criteria for a more accurate match to get closer to the person you are looking for.
  • It *is* free.
  • If you know how to read between the lines, play the game, and are actually patient enough, there are actually a few good guys on there. However, like most dating sites, they are fewer and further in between.
  • The personality and relationship needs tests are actually interesting to take and can enable you to learn a little bit more about yourself and your dating needs.

Cons:

  • The apps do not have nearly as good a user interface as the desktop site.
  • I do believe you get what you pay for. This site does have paid upgrades (seeing extended profiles, sending virtual “gifts” like roses, more pictures on your profile, seeing if your messages were read/deleted). Depending how many months you sign up for, the upgrades cost $10 to $20 a month. Is it worth it? If you’re serious about PoF, yes. But for 95% of you reading this…no.
  • It does not tell you when a match has last logged in, so who knows how active the account is?
  • PoF boasts 3,000,000 active daily users and 60,000 new singles joining a day. After seeing the same faces in my matches, I have serious doubts about that.
  • Only women can send pictures via private message. Too many icky guys were sending pictures of, well…you know…

 Overall impression: Honestly, I don’t think it’s worth your time. I believe your energy and your money would be better spent on Match.com because I truly feel paid sites screen out a lot of the weirdos (not all, of course).

I have encountered way too many superficial men on the site who will only talk to straight-sized women. I distinctly remember contacting one guy who I had a little chemistry with. When I finally got all my photos uploaded, he ghosted and updated his profile specially to say Gena Lee Nolin (one of the Baywatch stars from the 90s) was his physical ideal. At a size 20, I am definitely not in the same category as Gena Lee Nolin.

Don’t completely discount it, though. For all the ickiness on there, I have had one bit of really good luck with this site. Years ago when I was living in another city, I wanted nothing more than to find a nice guy. After weeks of weeding through jerks and weirdos, I messaged a man I’ll call “Brandon,” and we had incredible online chemistry. We actually got along very well in person, too. Brandon was (and still is) the only man who every bought me flowers. He was incredibly polite, funny, thoughtful—the whole package. However, we ended our relationship because I was moving to another state and I wasn’t willing to subject either of us to a long-distance relationship. Was he the one who got away? Maybe. But because he was such a good match for me, I can’t completely knock PoF.

While PoF is free, offers decent features, and the ability to narrow your search based on a lot of criteria, I don’t recommend it. I still think Match is the best site out there, and your dating dollars are better spent finding quality dates rather than the crap shoot that is the Internet’s largest free dating site.

What are your thoughts on PoF? Do you believe you get what you pay for when it comes to dating sites? Comment below!

A Review of Match.Com for the Plus-Size Single Woman

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What are you waiting for?

I’ve seen that tagline a billion times on TV and Internet commercials for Match.com

Launched in 1995, Match.com and its sister sites (including OKCupid) boast over 4,700,000 users, and it claims to have lead to almost 100,000 marriages. So is a 21-year-old dating site still worth using? Hopefully this will answer any questions you have about the site and if it’s something you want to try.

Basic features:

  • iPhone and Android app, as well ask a desktop site
  • Ability to upload up to 26 photos from your computer, mobile device, or Facebook
  • Users can send emails through the site
  • Match will send you 12 “Daily matches,” which are guys they think you will have more in common with based on your profile answers and preferences
  • “Full-figured”, “heavyset”, “a few extra pounds” and “stocky” are all body type options given for plus-sized women

What you do: Setting up your account is not as exhaustive as eHarmony. You fill out your information (physical appearance/occupation/marriage status) and then what you are looking for in a date. They provide an open-ended section for you to talk about yourself. All in all, it is very easy to set up and begin looking through profiles.

 Pros:

  • This site is pretty intuitive to use. It’s easy to narrow your search criteria to get a more accurate match to get closer to a match you are looking for.
  • While it is not free, it is certainly cheaper than eHarmony. A one-month subscription is $42, three- and six-month subscriptions (which is what I recommend) are $27 and $24 per month, respectively. It’s only $21 a month for a full year. It is worth your time to do a Google search for coupons—there seem to be a lot out there!
  • There is a search feature called “mutual match” which will tell you what percentage compatible you are based on what you two are looking for. I have several 100% and 97% matches. While not absolutely scientific, this is a cool feature.
  • Something else I really like is “reverse match”, which matches you up based on what *he* is looking for. This helps me explore outside the box to gentlemen who would not have been on my radar. Again, not scientific, but this intrigues me!

Cons:

  • This is another of those sites that makes you pay in full at the beginning of your subscription. I advise you very strongly to keep on top of it, or else you will be on the phone with their customer service reps, trying to talk your way out of it.
  • One of my biggest complaints would be you can’t see when someone was last active, and that makes it hard to gauge if they are an active member.
  • While the mobile apps are OK, I still think the desktop site offers more in terms of user interface. 

Overall impression: Of all the online dating sites, this is my personal favorite. I like the search options, which allow you to really tailor your matches. The “reverse match” feature is also a great idea; I think its suggestions allow you to expand your horizons. I think it is well worth taking out a three-month subscription to see if you like it. While I never dated anyone I met on this site, I still firmly stand by my opinion that it offers the biggest pool to search from, is reasonably priced, and doesn’t have quite the “ick” factor sites like Tinder and Plenty of Fish have, but it isn’t nearly as rigid as eHarmony is.

While no online dating site is perfect, its large selection criteria, ease of use, and inventory of eligible bachelors is why I think Match is the best out of the four I have rated. If it’s an extra incentive, enter in FREE in the coupon code to get a week free. (Caveat: you do have to enter in your credit card/PayPal info before you can get it, but if you cancel before the week is up, you will not be charged.)

Have you ever been on Match? Are you curious to try it now? Comment below!

 

eHarmony – Yah or Nah?

design copyBetter matches, better dates.

You’ve seen the commericals either on TV or online about eHarmony, one of the most recognized names in online dating.

Launched by Neil Clark Warren in 2000, eHarmony currently has 778,000 active users. It has had 66,000,000 members since its inception and boasts 2,000,000 marriages. (I personally know two couples who got married to their eHarmony matches, but I find that figure suspiciously high.)

I am going to go over the site’s features, as well as its pros and cons. After reading this post, you should have a better idea if eHarmony is something you should try.

Basic features:

  • iPhone and Android app, as well ask a full desktop site
  • Extensive personality profile that takes 45-60 minutes to fill out
  • eHarmony boasts their personality profile will allow them to send you the most accurate matches of any dating profile because they do the screening for you
  • Ability to receive up to seven matches a day

What you do: Starting an account is not for the faint of heart. Make a cup of coffee or grab a glass of wine. You need to block out almost an hour answering 258 questions from your parents’ marriage to whether you are an extrovert or introvert. After you run through that gauntlet, you write up your profile and upload up to a dozen pictures.

Pros:

  • This site is pretty intuitive to use. It’s easy to narrow your search criteria to get a more accurate match.
  • While I’m not a psychologist, I appreciate the science that eHarmony uses in analyzing your personality profile.
  • eHarmony features tons of articles on dating which are actually well written, very relatable, and do contain lots of good information.
  • If you like message boards, eHarmony’s boards are full of genuinely nice folks who are happy to offer advice not only on dating, but friendships, faith, finances, and even recipes. There are hundreds of threads and I can easily spend hours messaging and enjoying the camaraderie they provide.
  • eHarmony offers free three-day weekends every two or three months. A couple I know actually met on the free weekend. They’ve been together nine years and just had their first baby.

Cons:

  • It is one of the most expensive of the major online dating sites. There are different tiers with various features, but if you want to subscribe to the Basic Plan for a month just to try, it’s $60. The three-month and six-month plans are $30 a month (which are the levels I would recommend), while the 12-month plan is $20 monthly. You do have to pay in full up front, but it is worth it to Google “Eharmony coupons”!
  • Only having seven matches, even if they are specially tailored to you and your personality, is extremely limiting.
  • Of those matches, there is no way to know how active they are on the site. I think that was the thing I hated most about the site was being matched with men who were no longer active users.
  • While I understand this is a Christian company and their values, it still disappoints me greatly that gays are not allowed to use this site. Yes, there are other online options for gay dating, but this discrimination does not sit well with me.
  • Even if you are straight and are willing to pay, there is no guarantee eHarmony will even let you set up a profile. Roughly 20% of people who take the survey are deemed incompatible for eHarmony (by eHarmony) if they have been married more than four times, provide inconsistent answers on the questionnaire, or are identified as potentially having severe depression.

Overall impression: Even with all the drawbacks, I think it is worth a shot if you find your dating life stale. I recommend taking out a three-month subscription to see if you like it.

I have had three or four dates with men I met off eHarmony. One was a divorced baseball fanatic and that was literally the only thing he talked about. After talking about our jobs, I had to listen to him drone on for two hours about pretty much every baseball game he ever saw and rattle off baseball statistics from 1987. (My huge mistake was that I happened to mention I loved the Kansas City Royals.) He had the personality of a dial tone and guess what?! There was no second date.

Another was a lawyer who I mentioned last week I drove about 3 hours to meet. While he was nice enough, he had the audacity to take a 30-minute long call from his mother during our date. What’s more, he was clearly 10 years older than his profile’s pictures. He was very much balding and his monochromatic black did not disguise the fact he was 50+ pounds heavier than his pictures. I even got him to admit he used old photos because he wanted women to be attracted to him, not his money. (For the record, I am not a gold-digger. And I never use photos more than a year old in my profile—I make it clear I am plus-sized.) Shocker—no second date!

While the site is frustratingly limited in the number of matches they send and because I think a number of your matches are inactive users, I don’t think this site is quite the value Match.com is, but I think it is certainly worth a try. The articles and message boards are valuable features if you use them, and the science behind the matches is certainly intriguing.

Has this post piqued your interest in eHarmony? Or have you actually tried it yourself? Comment below!

How About…Trying Online Dating

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Church. Bars. Extension classes. Volunteering. Friends of friends. Your brother’s friends.

You have tried everything to meet guys, and nothing is working. Putting yourself out there is exhausting, and you’ve had it up to here *gestures to forehead* competing for guys’ attention with little 22-year-olds. At the end of the day, you’d rather just curl up with the computer to watch some Netflix and…wait, what?

Computer. Internet. Guys.

For better or worse, I have been using the Internet as a means of meeting gents since 1998. (Yes, I am old.) It’s fair to say I’ve seen a thing or two when it comes to meeting dates online. Of course being single myself, I have yet to meet The One online, but I’ve met my fair share of decent chaps and downright jerks on the Internet.

In this first of a five-part series, I want to give you some arguments on why online dating sites are the best way to meet guys in our busy, 21st-century lifestyle. I will also detail four of the most popular dating sites and give you some personal anecdotes. But first, I want to give 7 reasons why you should consider even setting up an online profile to find Mr. Right.

  1. Ladies first. It depends on what site you visit and your age, but generally men outnumber women on the major dating sites1, especially Tinder. Though most of the time men only slightly outnumber women on Internet dating sites, men usually send more messages, so you are far more likely to attract attention when you sign up for a dating site.
  1. Convenience. This may be the single most compelling argument for online dating. It can be as easy as click a mouse or swiping right on your phone. The ease of sifting through online profiles is undeniable, and so much easier to do from the privacy of your own home and in your jammies than from a loud, sweaty club.
  1. Safety first! Unlike icky guys who can follow you around a bar, it is easier to get them off your computer or mobile device. Many of the major online dating sites have block or reporting features, so it is easy to delete the crazies from your inbox. Problem solved—you never have to hear from them again.
  1. Expand your horizons. You are not just confined to your hometown. The beauty of the Internet is you can meet guys from other towns, states, and countries. If you don’t mind traveling, you could increase your chances of finding your soulmate. I have personally traveled 3 hours to meet a guy I met online, and to be perfectly honest, I would never consider traveling any further than that. (Stay tuned for my eHarmony post for that particular disaster.)
  1. Easier to weed out the weirdos. I could write an entire book on this topic, but online dating has made it so easy to screen potential dates. Bad grammar? Adios! Doesn’t write back when he says he will? Move along! Why can’t you give guys a chance? I can hear some of you ask. My biggest pet peeve is when someone doesn’t follow through with a promise they make. If a guy says he will text/message in a certain timeframe and he doesn’t, that is a red flag for me. How am I supposed to trust someone if they can’t even keep a small promise. Nobody’s got time for that!
  1. Measure the chemistry. If you know what to look for, it is pretty easy to see within a couple emails if there is any chemistry there or not. If I have to pull teeth to get an answer out of a guy or if I have to struggle to come up with questions to ask him, how scintillating would our F2F conversation be? I do cut people slack for being introverts—after all, I am one myself! But I don’t have time to waste if the lack of chemistry is obvious.
  1. Niche is nice. There are dating sites for almost any niche you can imagine. From farmers to Canadians to Catholics, you are almost guaranteed to find the dating niche market you crave. I have friends who met their spouses on niche dating sites, so I have seen them work. Maybe just not for me. 

Because of the rising popularity of online dating, its easy use and many niche sites, why wouldn’t you at least dip your toe into the water? I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the weird, and I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for anything because—if nothing else—they make great stories.

W hat are your thoughts about online dating? Are there sites that are better than others? Worse? Please share your experiences or any questions you have about this topic!

1 https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-male-to-female-ratio-on-the-big-five-dating-websites-Match-com-eHarmony-PlentyofFish-Zoosk-and-OKCupid