Plenty of Fish, the popular free dating site, has been used mostly for hook-ups. But can it rebuild its image?


Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 6.56.22 PMThis past week, Plenty of Fish announced that it would eliminate the option of “Intimate Encounters” on its online dating platform. The reason? According to founder Markus Frind, he was receiving too many complaints from female users of the site who were getting harassing messages from men. He wants to refocus the site back to its original strategy: helping people find real relationships, not hook-ups.


In a message to users, he shared that out of the site’s 3.3 million members, only 6,041 are women looking for no-strings-attached trysts. In addition, he said that “the ones with hot pictures are mostly men pretending to be women.”


This was a bold admission for the founder of such a successful online dating site (the site is free for users, but pulls in a significant amount of money each year in ad revenue).


Mr Frind said in his statement: “When I created POF, I wanted it to be all about finding relationships with the right person. For the first seven years, this worked really well, I got the site to 10 million users without any employees and PoF was generating a ton of relationships.”


But Frind said he would now be making changes and eliminating the Intimate Encounters option, adding: “Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”


Other changes include putting limits on age gaps. Those members who are more than fourteen years apart are not allowed to message each other. According to Frind: “There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact 18-year-old women. The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hook-ups.”


I’m curious to see if any other online dating sites take similar actions to prevent their sites from being used primarily as hook-up destinations rather than relationship-seeking sites. Many sites guard against things like inappropriate photos and harassing emails. But ultimately, it is up to members of the site to decide how they will use it. And free sites are more susceptible to misuse than paid sites.


There are certain measures that every dater should take before using an online dating site. Plenty of Fish has made it a little easier by rooting out fake and sleazy profiles, but there are still a few things to be aware of:


“Hot” pictures. If the pictures are lude or sexy (showing intimate body parts or making sexual gestures at the camera), likely the profile is fake. If this is what you want, there are plenty of porn sites out there. But if you want a relationship keep this in mind.


Getting virtually intimate. If your date is telling you how much he wants to have sex, or how he’s fallen in love with you just by your emails, beware. If you’re intimidated by his pursuits then tell him thanks, but no thanks.


Meeting in private. If you’re meeting an online date, please meet him in a public place. Don’t let him pick you up and don’t meet him at a private house (his or a friend’s). You don’t know him or what he wants. Meet everyone in a public space first.



Looking for something new to do this summer? Try these creative date ideas.



Screen shot 2013-05-18 at 7.06.18 PMWho doesn’t love summer? The warm nights, cool water, smell of suntan lotion, the tropical drinks. It’s no wonder we dream about summer flings – it’s the perfect season for romance and spontaneity.


Which is why it’s fun to step out of your standard coffee or dinner date comfort zone and do something a little out of the ordinary. Namely, take advantage of the weather while you date.


Following are some summer date ideas that might inspire you:


Outdoor concerts. Many cities capitalize on the longer, warmer nights and invite local artists to perform outdoor concerts. Do you live near a pier, a lake, or downtown? Chances are some kind of live music is going on, so check your local listings and get the details. Then pack a bottle of wine and a few decadent snacks to enjoy with the music and you’re on your way.


Roadtrip it. If you’re at a loss for things to do in your own town, there’s nothing wrong with hopping in the car and seeing where the GPS takes you. Spontaneous road trips are the stuff romance is made of. Pick a destination and see what you find – even if it’s not all that spectacular, there are unique places in every neighborhood. Explore, that’s the point.


Get outdoors. Do you like tubing, hiking or biking? Instead of sitting down somewhere when you’d rather be moving, engage your date. Meet at a hiking spot you’ve always wanted to try. Ride bikes along the lake or boardwalk. Grab a couple of kayaks or inner tubes and hit the water. There are plenty of activities to do, it just depends what you’re up for.


Restaurant crawl. Is there a main street in your city or town where all the local hotspots are? Instead of making a reservation at one place and sitting down to dinner, make a night of it with a restaurant crawl. Try appetizers and cocktails in one place, tapas for dinner at another, a decadent bistro for dessert, and top it off with coffee at a cozy café or after-dinner drinks at a nightclub or bar, if that’s more your style.


Food trucks. Much like the restaurant crawl, food trucks have become increasingly popular across the country. It’s a more interesting and cheaper way to eat – gourmet grilled cheese to lobster rolls to Vietnamese burritos. During the summer they congregate together in certain neighborhoods where other activities might be going on, like farmer’s markets or county fairs.



Theatre under the stars. Do you love dinner and a movie? Take the idea outside. Pack a picnic with a bottle of wine, a blanket, and check your local listings for what’s playing at a park near you. I live in L.A., where outdoor movie night is at a famous Hollywood cemetery, so you can imagine the horror flicks and classic films they screen there, which are way better in this setting than in a boring theatre.


Wine tasting. Want to relax and enjoy your Sunday afternoon? Head to a local winery for some tasting. If you live near vineyards and can stop by a few, even better. In the summer they might have events, like food pairings or special wines for tasting. Best of all, you can relax and enjoy the scene.


Have fun!