5 Ways TruConnection is Different From Every Other Dating Site

In a world of thousands of online dating sites, it can be difficult to differentiate one from the next and choose which is best for you. Below are a few ways in which TruConnection.com is unique:


1. Emphasis on Writing as a First Impression. Many other sites have an ‘About Me’ or ‘Write About Yourself’ section, which gives members an opportunity to express themselves; however, this is usually just a small part of a member’s overall profile, and is most likely glossed over by members who are first drawn to the list of characteristics (income, education, social habits, ethnicity, etc.). At TruConnection, your first impression of a member is simply her writing + photo. And it is not just a snapshot of her describing herself; she is free to write as often and about as many topics as she likes. When you read her writing, you open a window into a real side of her personality.



2. No Detailed Self-Description. TruConnection’s motto is ‘Meet People, Not Profiles’, and I have mentioned ad nauseam on this blog our commitment to avoid an online shopping mentality. The vast majority of online dating sites feel that the more information a member provides about herself, the easier and more efficient it will be for other members to identify her as a potential match. But self-description can never be objective, is typically less-than-honest, and causes other members to be overly and artificially judgmental.



3. No Matching Algorithms. It seems that every day a new study comes out questioning the validity of dating algorithms. Many well-known dating sites compete with one another on whose algorithm ‘works best’ at matching people. Other, smaller sites use unique technology to match people based on a variety of data members provide about themselves. TruConnection avoids algorithms altogether. Members are enabled to find one another on their own; after all, who wants to tell friends and family that a computerized matchmaker brought them together?



4. Attention to Member Feedback. The features and functionality on TruConnection were built based on feedback from a focus group with the goal of making it easy to navigate and interact with other members. As we grow and add features, we are constantly asking members what would make their experience on the site better.



5. Straightforwardness. One thing you will never read (except here): “I joined TruConnection and was instantly messaged by a few women who wanted to meet me, but to message them back I had to become a paying subscriber. I became a subscriber, messaged them back, and never heard from them again! Shady!”


It should go without saying that we will avoid these practices, but unfortunately there is a lot of it in the online dating world.



TruConnection launched 3 months ago in NYC and Boston area, and will soon be expanding to new cities as demand dictates. Check it out and sign up!



A note on ‘Romance Scammers’

One of the few downsides of being a free online dating site that invests a lot in search engine optimization (SEO) is that we are very attractive to “romance scammers.”



What is a romance scammer? Someone typically located in Europe or Africa who scours the internet looking for free, popular dating sites, joins with a cheesy sounding username (example: Looking4Love), a fake photo, and messages dozens or even hundreds of members in an attempt to start a dialogue over Email (outside of the dating site).



Their goal, of course, is money. If someone takes the bait and responds to a message, the scammer will continue the dialogue and perhaps send more risque (fake) photos. At some point, the scammer will send a message to the effect of “Honey, I had an accident, I’m in the hospital and I can’t access my money…can you wire me $200 USD and I can pay you back next week?”



Luckily, there is a database of scammer Email addresses against which we check each new TruConnection sign up (we require a valid Email address to register), and have deleted about fifteen scammers so far. But sometimes they will use new addresses which haven’t been added to the database yet, and it takes longer to identify and delete.



99% of members will never respond to a message sent by a scammer — their English is often very poor, which is usually a dead giveaway. But in case someone is duped, there is a simple rule to follow that will ensure you will not be a victim of a scammer:



Never give money to someone you have never met in person.



If everyone followed this simple rule, the unfortunate existence of romance scammers would end pretty quickly.







New Features (Mike)

We have received some great feedback from current and prospective members re: enhancing overall experience on the site. Accordingly, the features described below — which will facilitate the process of new members coming on board, writing actively, and meeting one another on the site — are currently being developed and will be completed within a week:



1) Facebook integration. New members will have the option to sign up via Facebook, and existing members can log in via Facebook. **Nothing from TruConnection will post on Facebook walls. ** We are exploring LinkedIn integration as well.



2) Registration outside NYC / Boston area. To date, we have been open to new members in New York City and Boston area. For members outside these two regions, there is now an option on the registration form to leave name / email address / city. Once we have significant interest in your city, we will launch there.



3) First Word. For new members, the option to write an intro about themselves prior to gaining full access to the site, encouraging members from the get-go to start writing and sharing on the site.



4) Social sharing on blog posts. The ability to share each individual blog post, rather than just the blog itself.



As TruConnection continues to grow, more and more members are finding it a refreshing change from mainstream dating sites. Rather that relying on detailed profiles, dating questionnaires, and matching algorithms, TruConnection.com operates under the premise that what you write (or how you express yourself creatively through artwork or photography) + your photo is the best first impression when meeting online, and the strongest foundation for a meaningful connection.



Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.



Sneaky Dating Site Practices — Example

A few posts ago I made reference to sneaky/deceptive practices that many dating sites engage in. I want to share a quick tale of such an experience I just encountered:



In my research of literally hundreds of sites, I…er, a guy I know…has signed up for many of them. One site in particular, which in concept is sort of in competition with TruConnection, has been sending me messages several times per day.



These messages are called Love Alerts, and until today I have mostly ignored them. Just now I clicked on one, and found that I had a new message from someone (which is surprising, because I don’t have a photo, and my profile is empty). The subject line read ‘it’ll be my last Email if you don’t answer’, and it was from a girl in the UK.



Curious, I looked through past Love Alerts from this site, and found that I had received several messages from females all around the world — Germany, Hungary, Johannesburg, to name a few — and one girl in NY had added me to her Hotlist just last week! Again, with no photo or profile, this was pretty flattering.



This all sounds innocent enough — the site is trying to get me more engaged as a member — but here’s the issue: I couldn’t read any of the messages unless I became a paying member. I couldn’t see anything more than the subject lines. And I couldn’t initiate messages without paying, either.



So the girls that DID message me, they must be paying members from around the world who choose to spend their time messaging a guy in NYC with no profile or photo, right?



It’s more likely that these messages are not real, these girls are not real, and these efforts are an attempt to get me to become a paying member. This type of practice preys on the vulnerable, desperate, and less-than-brilliant.



And it is all too common on online dating sites, whose goals often have nothing to do with bringing single people together.






“Marriage of Convenience” (Mike)

A few weeks ago, as I was going through my morning ritual of seeking new articles on online dating/dating/relationships (partly to learn new perspectives, partly to comment and introduce TruConnection.com), I came across this article in Psychology Today online entitled: ”Is a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ So Bad?”



The author, a renowned psychologist and frequent contributor to psychologytoday.com, offers pros and cons of a so-called ‘marriage of convenience’ — loosely defined, the idea of a married couple staying together despite falling out of love. She talks about the financial and logistical difficulties associated with divorce, the fact that with kids you’re never truly apart from your spouse anyway, and that if the situation is tolerable and livable, perhaps it isn’t the worst thing. The author recognizes that such an arrangement is not the ‘dream’ of marriage, but shouldn’t be stigmatized, either. She uses the phrase ‘companionate marriage’ to describe an arrangement in which ‘spouses are willing to give each other some accommodations and freedoms so that they can meet other vital needs elsewhere’.



Not being married, it isn’t my place to comment on the psychology of marriage, or what married couples go through. But in my opinion, this article is symptomatic of a deeper issue that arises in all stages of a relationship, and which I believe contributes to less-than-ideal arrangements: the idea that outside factors and societal pressures should have an impact on the potential happiness you can achieve in a relationship, or should affect who YOU choose to meet / date / marry in the one life you have.



It’s easy to get impatient about this. Reading the last paragraph, friends I know will say ‘oh come on, get real.’ We are social creatures, and it’s lonely to sit and dream of a world in which true love is just that, and everything else is secondary. It’s much easier to consider the things that are deemed ‘important’ in a potential relationship: background, family, education level, career path, etc. We develop a checklist mentality not because these are truly important factors in falling in love and staying in love, but because that’s what we think is the recipe for long term ‘success’ in a relationship.



Online dating sites know this. Many are set up to provide you with as many data points about another person as they can extract through dating questionnaires or personality tests. They realize that we all have an image of an ideal mate in our mind, and they try to make it easier for us to find that person by allowing us to filter based on things we find ‘important’.



This approach looks good on paper. And when you are feeling impatient, you don’t want any BS, you just want to drill down and be as specific as possible with your parameters. Went to college. Makes a certain amount of money. Is much taller than me. Gym 3x/week. No smokers. Wants to have minimum 3 kids. No exceptions.



You review your matches, and perhaps you date a few. Maybe one seems great, and you develop a relationship that blossoms into something significant. Maybe you fall in love, get married, and stay in love.



Or fall out of love. Fall into a convenient arrangement. After all, the data points still match up.



What if your first impression was based on something more real?



The approach of TruConnection.com — in which members share limited information about themselves, just their writing / creative expressions and a photo — is not perfect. But it is a way to open a window into one’s personality without knowing everything about them. It is setting you up for a meeting in which you will learn the things about her that you don’t yet know. Your connection, if you make one, will be based on a more real first impression.



We are not using data points and formulas. We are not attempting to, as one popular dating site CEO described his site’s approach, ‘engineer the next great relationship.’



More importantly, we are not engineering the next marriage of convenience.



Advent of Spring (Chris)

Spring’s reared its head again and for me that always means two things: Allergies and anxiety. The first, I’ve found a way of dealing with thanks to some strong medicine. The latter, however, is more of a challenge. As anyone who has gone through a lifetime of classrooms, papers, finals, and so on can attest, as the semester nears its end, there is the inevitable mental to-do list of requirements left to fulfill, books left to read and papers left to write.



It’s been nearly 10 years since my college days ended, and I still get a vague sense of anxiety when April rolls around. Spring, a season of growth and new beginnings, has for me always been a season of deadlines, a season in which to get things done, and so I use this time of year as a season of rumination, a time to think about what’s going on in my life, where I am, where I want to be, and what I want to be doing.


For years I looked on Spring with dismay. I was never one to “put myself out there” so in the face of all the things I wanted to do, people I wanted to meet, and connections I wanted to make, I religiously put my nose down into the work at hand and justified my inability to share my true self with the lame excuse of lack of time. Work was too important, I’d tell myself.



I like to think that if I had had something like TruConnection, a place where I could write freely and meet others while doing so, I would probably have learned a lot about myself, would have grown, and possibly would have met some people I could connect with because they were able to see who I really was.


If you’ve signed up for TruConnection but have not tried putting yourself out there, I really encourage you to share. Write to your heart’s content, share something about the real you, and you might be surprised to find someone who is truly interested. And if you haven’t signed up yet, give it a shot!





Sneaky Dating Site Practices (Mike)

As I continue to research the online dating landscape and the 1000+ dating sites in the US, I’ve come to learn some tactics that a few dating sites engage in. These tactics are at best misleading, and at worst, fraudulent:


Fake Profiles. This is relatively common, particularly in newer sites. Since people hesitate to join a dating site with few members, these sites will buy profiles from other sites, or create them themselves. A new member joins thinking there are 10,000 members, and is surprised to see that no one contacts her or responds to her messages. Worse, she might keep paying, unaware that many members are phony.


Fake Messages. Similar to fake profiles, some sites have mechanisms where it appears attractive members are messaging you. These people are not real, or at least not real members on the site. They are used to entice new members.


Using Member Photos in Marketing. This is fine, of course, if a member agrees; but in one recent case, a fairly new dating site was called out for hiding the acceptance of this practice deep in its Terms of Use. An online dater who left the site months ago was shocked to see his image used in the dating site’s marketing materials.


Marketing Matching Algorithms as Proven Science. I’ve mentioned this before, and it is a major reason why I created TruConnection.com, but it bears repeating. Some might disagree with me, and believe these algorithms are really engineering relationships. I would argue they are merely instruments to help sites justify high member fees.


In fairness, many sites (and most well-known sites) are scrupulous and honest in their practices. These sites work to build consumer confidence in online dating. However, the sites that are simply trying to capitalize on a growing market, with little care or concern for their members’ experience, are doing the industry a great disservice.


TruConnection.com is less than two months old, and doesn’t have nearly the member count of the larger dating sites (yet). But no matter what, we will not engage in deceptive practices. We will respect our members’ intelligence, not mislead them.


The business of bringing single people together to form relationships is not one that should be handled callously.




“Checklist Mentality” (Mike)

Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion among relationship experts and psychologists discounting the algorithms used by dating sites to match people (most notably this article from health.com and this recent piece in the Wall Street Journal). The basic argument is that a site’s algorithm — no matter how many data points it takes into account — cannot accurately predict romantic compatibility. Moreover, many argue, these matchmaking methods are mere marketing tools.


I completely agree; but I think they need to follow this theory to its logical conclusion: If a computer cannot match people based on a collection of information about them, why do we think a person can accurately choose a potential mate based on this same data?


One argument against algorithms is that there is no human element to it. There is no personal touch.


Yet when reviewing detailed personal profiles on mainstream dating sites, we are given a list of information about a person and, based on that (and a photo, of course), we are to decide if we want to contact them.


This method lends itself to a ‘checklist mentality’ that is unfortunate. ‘I only want to meet girls with a college degree that don’t smoke, have blond hair, are under 5’6″, and earn less than me.’ ‘I only want to meet guys that have a professional occupation, are 6′ tall, are listed as slim or athletic, and don’t drink more than 3x per week.’


How romantic!


To be fair, many dating sites do have an ‘about me’ section, or an ‘in my own words’ section where members can describe themselves. While this hopefully provides a window into who they are, by this point many have already been weeded out; they don’t fit the idealistic image of the reviewer, and their words and self-expression can’t save them.


Our slogan is ‘Meet People, Not Profiles.’ We are trying to infuse some realness to meeting online, trying to make it feel less like online shopping, and more like a meaningful first impression that quickly becomes an off-line meeting. Members simply write and share a photo, and they are not prejudged by so many data points…they are the one you met at the coffee shop, the one you met at the gym, the one you didn’t know much about until the first date, when you began to paint a mental picture of who they really are, and wondered how important your checklist ever was.



What does “Creative” Really Mean? (Mike)

Over the past few months, as I’ve been promoting TruConnection.com throughout NYC and Boston (‘it’s a unique online dating site where you write / express yourself creatively and meet others, no detailed profiles, no algorithms, no gimmicks!’), I have often heard this: ‘Sounds cool, but my friends and I are not creative.’ So I slink away, defeated, place my TruConnection.com flyer back in my briefcase, and walk home in the rain (kidding…sort of).


But what does it really mean to be ‘creative’?


The label is often applied to artists, photographers, writers, actors, musicians, and maybe a few other professions. Because we label certain groups as ‘creative’, then by definition, the rest of us are ‘not creative’.


This labeling is unnecessarily limiting, and I believe untrue. So let me submit what I think about when I hear the word creative, and more to the point, what I mean when I mention ‘expressing yourself creatively’ as the best first impression when meeting online, and the foundation of TruConnection.com:


Thoughtful. Independent-minded. Intelligent. Expressive.


‘Expressing yourself creatively’ then, by my definition, is giving others a window into your personality, a sense of who you are based on what you write. It is certainly not communicating everything about you…but it speaks more about you, I think, than self-description, dating questions, or personality tests ever could.


I have some Facebook friends who I haven’t seen since grade school. One in particular updates his status on a daily basis with humorous and sometimes insightful rants. Although I haven’t seen him in 18 years, I actually feel like I know him pretty well. I feel like I have a sense of who he is. He’s not a ‘writer’, and he would probably recoil if someone called him ‘creative’. But, by my definition, he absolutely is. And through his writing, a window into his personality is opened.


TruConnection.com is a place to write about anything you choose (or write about the Daily Writing Topic listed), upload writing, and meet others. The first impression other members have of you is what you write/create + your photo. Sign up before April 1st and membership is free for life.








New Features (Mike)

TruConnection.com is now five weeks old and has over 200 members in Boston and NYC. As TruConnection continues to grow, I want to make sure we are doing everything possible to enhance our members’ experience on the site, which means  facilitating the process of members expressing themselves creatively and meeting one another. Accordingly, I have introduced two new features which are now live on the site, described below:





When members write or upload something on the site, you now have the option to LIKE their post by clicking the blue ribbon icon, or COMMENT on it by clicking the pencil icon. Likes and Comments are seen ONLY by the member who authored the post (unlike Facebook, for example, where likes/comments are more public). Members will see in their Alerts section that you commented or liked their post. It will also be visible in their My Shelf section (which now shows historical writings and uploads, as well as the likes/comments for each post).




So while you can still send a message to other members at any time (or chat with them if they are online), you can now respond to them directly based on individual writings/uploads.






Up until now, you could choose to FOLLOW other members and be alerted when they write/upload on the site. Now, in addition to this, you can set up ‘Auto-Follow’ from the right hand navigation bar on Home page.




Auto-Follow allows you to set criteria for whom you want to follow. For example, you could set it up to auto-follow Men in Boston/Cambridge that are between 30 and 40 years old. This means that every time someone that fits these parameters adds content to the site, you will be alerted…even those that register for the site after you set it up. Since several new members sign up daily, this feature will make it easier to learn about the people you would like to meet as they join and start using the site.