The Do’s and Don’ts of Singles Events

It’s no secret we’re a fan of dating apps here at Dates & Mates. But if you’re craving some solid tips on how to date IRL, there are a few do’s and don’ts that will help you make a match the next time you’re at a singles event. Damona was an integral part of launching the Match app’s Stir live singles event series. In the process, Damona did some field research – she observed trends and then asked daters what they were looking for, what their biggest turn-offs were, and what would particularly catch their attention at a mixer.

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  1. Approach them — Most people will be impressed that you have the guts to talk to them first. And everyone is there to meet new people, so what’s the worst that could happen? You don’t need a bold opener at an event designed for singles to meet. A simple, “Hi, my name is ___, what’s yours?” will do.
  2. Give them the “signals” — If you like them, be sure to S.E.T. it up: smile, make eye contact and even use appropriate casual touch like a playful bat on the arm to indicate interest. . Kindness, compliments, and laughter will also take you much further at a singles event than sarcastic, self-deprecating remarks or negging (when pick-up artists put someone down to get their attention)
  3. Be accessible – Many times we feel the need to run for the tables and plant ourselves down so we don’t have to stand around feeling awkward. But if you take a lap every 20-30 minutes, you might catch someone’s eye who you didn’t initially notice.
  4. Clear follow-through— The norm has become, “We should hang out again,” or “I’ll message you” and never doing it. So even the slightest amount of clarity and follow-through will give you an edge on meeting new people. Make a specific plan to text, call, or go out and then make good on that promise.



  1. Crowding around “The Hot Girl/Guy” — By all means, try to get their attention; but that doesn’t mean ignoring all other potential matches in the meantime. Just because everyone is vying for their attention doesn’t mean they’re the best match for YOU.
  2. Getting lost in your group — It’s common for people to attend a singles mixer with friends, but remember you’re there to meet potential matches. If you aren’t ready to fly solo, that’s totally okay. Try to make an agreement with your friends to split up for a good chunk of the party and meet new people
  3. Dressing too casually — Most times, the folks who really “show up” in their appearance leave with the most interest. People at a mixer will take notice when you put even a little effort into how you look. A sexy pair of shoes, a shorter skirt, or a sharp jacket can make a difference in catching someone’s eye and showing that you’ve dressed to impress.
  4. Being rude or dismissive – If someone has worked up the courage to speak with you, don’t roll your eyes or immediately dismiss them. Not only is it bad dating karma but you also might unintentionally turn off someone else who was considering approaching you but doesn’t want to get shot down like the last person. 


Navigating the singles mixer is an art that you can hone with each event you attend. So just like going to the gym, when you stay motivated, consistent, and positive, you get the results you’re seeking and master how to date IRL in no time.

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How to Use Your Dog as Your Wingman for Dating

Dating can be easier with your best friend at your side, as long as your bestie has four paws. Here at Dates & Mates, we know firsthand the impact dogs can have on your life (like Damona and her buddy Ranger AKA “Beast”). Not only are they your best friend, family member, and beloved pet, dogs can often substitute for a significant other in your life (though you should maybe have a 60/40 split when sharing a bed). 

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So if you’re single and looking for a non-four-legged partner in crime, here’s how to use your dog as your wingman:

Let Your Dog Be a Conversation Piece – Having your furry friend when you’re out and about can take the pressure off of needing an impressive one-liner to start a conversation. Instead, let your dog be your wingman! If a cutie starts up a conversation about your pooch, keep it going by asking if they have any pets of their own (and if they’d like to join you and the pup for coffee sometime).

Put Your Pooch in Your Profile – Animal lovers are more likely to be perceived as caring, compassionate, patient, responsible and overall kind human beings. And according to the American Kennel Club, including a dog in your dating profile photo can increase your chances of getting a match by up to 53%! So don’t be afraid to share the spotlight with your furry friend. Just be sure you still have some single shots of yourself on your profile.

Check Out Dog-Friendly Events – From dog shows to charity events, there are more opportunities than ever to meet singles who share your love of dogs. Visit a dog park you’ve never been to, road trip to a dog beach, or even check out for some local (and maybe unusual) dog-friendly events.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage – In 2023, social media is an essential tool for connecting with people. If you’re looking for love and have a furry friend, use social media to your advantage. Post pictures of you and your dog, join Facebook groups for dog lovers, and use Instagram hashtags to connect with like-minded individuals. You never know who you might meet!

Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter – Volunteering at a local animal shelter not only allows you to give back to your community, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to meet people who share your love for dogs. You might even meet someone who’s looking for a new furry friend to adopt.


Although there are plenty of people out there who love dogs, you may find yourself feeling the spark with someone who isn’t the biggest dog person. Heck, they might even be allergic to your furry friend. Here’s our two cents:

When Your Date Isn’t a Dog Person – You want a partner who will value your values. If they can’t respect or understand your love of animals, you might run into other issues down the road. So if your new date absolutely detests them and doesn’t honor what’s important to you, reconsider if this is really a good match for you in the long run.

When Your Date is Allergic — Although having a dog allergy can be another hoop to jump through, this doesn’t mean you should completely throw in the towel with your match. Find activities you can do outside the house as you get to know one another. If things get more serious, there are medical options that can help your partner become more comfortable around your pooch. Be sure to clean frequently, create a dog-free zone, and try an air filter to help your partner be more comfortable in your space.


But the biggest “do” for doggie daters is to GET OUT THERE! Bring your beloved pet to the park, picnics, lunch, drive around with them, get them (and yourself) some fresh air! If Charlie Brown has taught us anything (aside from how NOT to punt a football) it’s that dogs make the best wingmen for dating around.

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4 Signs Your Online Boyfriend is a Catfish

Dating apps and online dating have become even more prevalent in recent years, with more and more people turning to the internet to find love. However, with the rise of virtual connections, there has also been a rise in catfishing and romance scams. In 2022, reports of romance scams reached a record $413 million in losses reported to the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.

While catfishing can happen to anyone, younger women have become increasingly vulnerable to emotional catfishing, which can have devastating consequences. But if you know the signs to spot a fake boyfriend, you can move forward and date with confidence. And that’s where we come in!

Here are 4 Sure Signs Your Online Boyfriend is a Catfish:


He Will Never Meet You In Person

  • One of the biggest red flags is if your online boyfriend refuses to meet you in person. Even if you’ve talked on the phone and heard his voice, if he doesn’t make any effort to see you face-to-face, he may not be who he claims to be.

His Online Identity is a Mismatch

  • If you’ve tried to do some digging on your online boyfriend and his name or photo doesn’t match up with the guy you think he is, you might have a problem. If he tries to explain it away, be cautious.

He Only Calls You At One Time Of Day

  • If your man is only available during specific hours and denies your call if you reach out during off-peak hours, you might be his side chick. Be wary of men who only communicate during strange hours, it could mean he’s hiding something.

He Has Lots of Pretty Lady Friends Online

  • If your online boyfriend has a very small group of friends and is friends with an abundance of women, it could be a sign that he’s not who he claims to be. Be cautious of predators who use social media to connect with multiple women.

It’s important to remember that the point of online dating is to actually date. If you suspect that you might be dealing with a catfish, it’s best to cut off communication and move on. Always do your due diligence before meeting someone in person and never send money to someone you’ve never met in real life.

But with a little bit of caution and common sense, you can protect yourself from online romance scams and find true love. Now get out there and start swiping!

Your Guide To “Dating Sunday”

Happy 2023 everyone!!! The new year signifies change and rebirth for many of us. It’s a time of reflection and growth, a time when we are reminded to look forward to the future, to appreciate the small moments, and refresh our goals. You can almost feel the excitement and anticipation in the air.

But after kissing the holiday season goodbye, we’re kicking off peak dating season with another *unofficial* holiday… Dating Sunday! If you haven’t heard of this infamous day before, here’s a refresher:

n. Dating Sunday = The time of year when dating apps see the biggest spike in new members & user activity (this year it’s on January 8th)

If you’ve been frustrated with dating apps in the past and/or the kind of matches you’ve gotten, Dating Sunday is the perfect time to try for Round 2. Everyone is HOT off of their new years resolutions (for many which is to join a dating app) and are ready for a restart. So if you’ve been on apps before, the pool of people will be completely different.

But if you’re still hesitant, try joining an app you’ve never tried before! Some apps use the swipe model, while other apps like Hinge let you “heart” something specific on a profile. You might find that the design of a certain dating app will make finding matches much more fun.

So if you’re ready to jump back into the dating pool, here are some hot tips to make your profile POP:

1. REFRESH YOUR PROFILEUse Damona’s “3 C’s” to pick your profile photos. Color to stand out (red is always a solid choice), context to tell your story, and character to show off your dazzling personality.

2. ANSWER MORE MATCHING QUESTIONS – Daters are matching based on values, beliefs and relationship goals more than ever so whether you want to have kids, you’re pansexual or you’re kinda kinky, don’t be afraid to say so.

3. PROOFREAD – OkCupid users say they’re 75% less likely to respond to a profile with a lot of spelling mistakes.

4. KEEP IT POSITIVE – Profiles with phrases like “pass on me if” get fewer messages than those that don’t. Eliminate any demands about what your new partner must do or cannot do. Cut the rants about how you’re tired of getting messages from losers, because you might be turning the off the bad guys AND the good guys.

5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MESSAGE FIRST – More and more women are making the first move. And according to OkCupid, women who send the first message get 55% more likes (and almost 60% more matches) than those who don’t. Plus, conversations initiated by women last longer than those started by men.

6. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE – 93% of Hinge users look for emotional vulnerability in a partner, and 61% rank emotional vulnerability as more important than income, height, or even attractiveness. So let’s say goodbye to playing it cool in 2023 – if you really like someone, tell them!

7. MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT– The only thing worse than an empty profile bare is a profile that could double as a novel. Thin out your profile and make it more readable. Try including a headline for each key part of your life that you want to dedicate a sentence to.

I hope you’re feeling ready and FIRED UP for Dating Sunday! Let’s get out there and make some new connections… Happy dating!!!

P.S. Damona is running her signature dating coaching group LIVE one last time starting the week of January 23rd. If you want to find love in 2023, this is your moment!! Hear new success stories and see how the program can change your love life too at 👈👈

Holiday Boundaries & an OkCupid GIVEAWAY!!!

The holiday season is upon us.

And you know what that means? Tons of questions from your family, asking, “Why are you still single??” But you don’t have to take it.

First of all, your dating journey is your own and doesn’t need to be explained to ANYONE. We really need to protect our mental health during this time, because in these cold winter months a lot of people do suffer from seasonal affective disorder. It’s a real thing – our serotonin levels drop and we start to feel depressed. And when you couple that with cuffing season + parents asking about grandkids + New Year’s resolutions + Valentine’s Day is coming… it’s all a little bit too much.

So hold your boundaries right now. And if you do get asked about your love life, just turn it around. “I am choosing to live my life with these priorities and when I find the right relationship for me, I’ll let you know.”

But if you ARE on a mission to get boo’ed up this Winter:

Damona is partnering up with OKCupid to give away 30 three-month Premium Memberships to OkCupid! That’s 3 months FREE of Premium access to OkCupid. Or maybe just get cuffed for the season, whatever it is that you want.

And it’s super easy for you to enter now through December 15. All you’ve got to do is:

  1. Share your favorite episode of Dates & Mates on social media. Post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, post it on your story or as a screenshot. And if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple right now, just hit that share button.
  2. Tag Damona (@damonahoffman) and OkCupid (@okcupid) when you share your favorite episode of Dates & Mates.
  3. That’s it!! 30 of you will get 3 months of FREE premium access to OKCupid just for sharing.

The giveaway ends DECEMBER 15, so start listening HERE to find your favorite episode of Dates & Mates. And don’t forget to tag @DamonaHoffman and @OkCupid on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook so you can be one of the lucky cuffing season giveaway recipients.

We’re confident that you have what it takes to find your forever person this year.


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The *Ultimate* Dates & Mates Holiday Gift Guide


Some people have a hard time shopping for their significant others during the holiday season. The pressure is on during this crucial time in a relationship. So… this year we’re gifting you with a list of our FAVORITE gift ideas for every occasion.


A first rule of thumb: Emotional value always trumps monetary value.  

Get them something that shows you’ve been listening rather than something that shows you waited until the last minute and just plunked down a wad of cash instead of taking the time to choose something that your significant other would specifically want.

I’ve put together this holiday gift guide to help you think through your options if you want to make this holiday special. I’ve made it super easy for you: 

You can either read through my extensive guide to picking the perfect holiday gift OR scroll down to the bottom for my cheat sheet gift guide.


A one-way ticket to relationship discord is a bad gift. This can be anything from a flat out thoughtless gift, to misconstrued presents, to showing up empty-handed.

Here are a few things to stay away from:


From iPods to Kindles to a new microwave, if it’s got a warranty it’s an appliance—not a sign of affection. Anything that plugs in, takes batteries or is powered by the sun, no matter how cool you may think it is will be too impersonal for the first gift-giving exchange in a new relationship.


Dating is not the same as marriage, and even the rules of giving back the ring after divorce are muddy so why get caught up in the big expense of something that may or may not last in the long run? Or even worse, cheap jewelry will just look like you don’t care. 

Diamonds are forever, but a new relationship may not be. Wait until a meaningful anniversary to give something shiny.


Unless you’re a successful clothing designer, you’re still learning the style AND SIZE of your new mate. Instead of risking a huge fight about the difference between a petite small and a small small, opt for something a little more tailored to their taste than to their waist.

Novelty Items

Even if Spencer’s Gifts does see a huge influx of customers during the holidays, you don’t have to be one of them. A black-light poster, Snuggie or lava lamp (see No.1) may be cool in your crib, but anything that elicits a laugh may not be quite the reaction you were hoping for.

Sexy Anything

Lingerie, silk boxers, and (heaven forbid) sex toys can and will send the wrong message. Especially when your lady’s friends ask her what she received for the holidays. Save the kinky stuff until you make it to Valentine’s Day.


Showing up empty-handed is even worse than showing up with a dildo. Even if you’re two weeks into a relationship, giving something is always better than nothing. So if you’re stumped on what to get and are only coming up with items from this list, at least make sure it’s something, not nothing.


And I don’t mean playing cards either (which would also make a terrible gift). While the simple act of giving a card is better than the dump-worthy gift of nothing, it’s still not enough. If you have to give a card, make one yourself. Make it meaningful with photos or showcase your artistic side. Rule of thumb: If someone else is quoted is on the card, choose again.

Gift Certificates

Practical, necessary and sometimes thoughtful, gift certificates can be a great gift for co-workers, employees and handymen. For anyone you sleep next to, not so much. If you know where they like to shop get them something from there with a gift receipt, not a blank check to take time out of their day to buy themselves a gift. 

Home Furnishings

Because nothing says “I don’t want to see you anymore” like the gift of a fleece blanket.

Lotion or Soap

Do not be tempted by the Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift basket. Even though the sales lady says women always love it, chances are she already received several from people who don’t really give a crap about her. Try to be the exception.

Also, if someone were to give you the gift of soap, wouldn’t your first thought be, “oh my god, do I smell bad?” Definitely stay away from soap.


You laugh, but it’s been done. Aside from being kind of totally rude, it shows no originality, no emotion and is really, really lame. If you’re so out of your element that you are thinking about resorting to giving the gift of green, it may be time to get some professional help.


Talk and Listen

Many times women think they are dropping hints about what they want for months and weeks before the holiday. Often times men are completely oblivious to these hints.  If you think you may have missed the message, simply try asking what she wants. 

Even if it’s direct, it will show her that you care about her and want to get her something she would like.

What they want most is YOU

Spending quality time with you is one of the most valuable things you can give your lady. Take a moment this holiday season to treat her like the queen she is. Take the reigns in the kitchen and cook for her tonight. Offer a foot massage at the end of a long day. These gestures will mean more than anything that comes in a box.

Let’s not forget the JEWISH HOLIDAYS

If your family is anything like mine, you are planning for Christmas AND Jewish Holidays. It’s always appreciated if you do something to acknowledge every night of Hanukkah, but usually not expected. You have the opportunity to be clever though and build each gift upon the last.  Perhaps you order candy hearts made that spell out a special message across the eight nights. Or give her some chocolate Hanukkah gelt nightly and then give her a guide illustrating how the number of coins corresponds to different gifts of her choice on the eighth evening. You can give her a variety of options and let her decide how she wants to spend her gelt. That will give you points for being cute and creative but also ensure that she gets exactly what she wants.



Regardless of how far along you are in your relationship, from benign dating to almost boyfriend/girlfriend status – get them something for Hanukkah or Christmas. 

You don’t have to overthink this gift and you should probably not spend a lot of money. However, all relationships – even new ones – do warrant some sort of acknowledgment this season.

Here are a few ideas to get you started or spark some inspiration:

Remember that what they want most is to spend time with you. Try giving the gift of an experience!

Groupon has everything from painting classes to concerts to kayaking trips.

Are they obsessed with music? Try a stylish crate for their record collection.

Have they ever mentioned wanting to make time to read more? Try gifting an Audible Membership.



Sometimes partners can feel taken for granted after a few months or years so this is your time to remind her how special they are to you. 

Again, try the gift of an experience! Do something new to get you out of your routine.

Most ladies love jewelry so if you’re not ready to pop the question (which I don’t usually recommend doing during the holidays) try a lovely necklace instead. The box MUST NOT be misleading to her. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re getting an engagement ring and ending up with a pair of earrings.

For a guy, try a nice watch. A good watch is a timeless gift. There’s something for every price point.

Whatever you do this season, it’s a good idea to talk about how you like to spend the holidays in advance to make sure you’re on the same page.

And don’t forget to ask them out for New Year’s Eve. There’s a superstition that you’re doing on NYE alludes to what you’ll be doing the rest of your year. So make sure that this New Year’s, the fireworks aren’t only in the sky.



Surviving The Holidays While Single

A Few Dating Dangers For Singles To Avoid This Holiday Season

Navigating the holidays can be hard when your parents keep asking why you’re still single. Top it all off with dating app fatigue, and Millennials & Gen Zers are ditching dating apps more than ever. But mostly, holiday dating app fatigue comes around due in large part to awkward questions from relatives.

How many times have you heard something on the order of, “Why are you still single” or “when are you going to settle down?” Be prepared for all of the awkward questions because you’re going to get them. 

If you don’t want to talk about why you’re single during the holidays, share all the accomplishments that you want to share instead of focusing on the negative. If all else fails and they just keep asking, tell them some of your bad date stories.

Here are a few tips on handling awkward conversations with relatives:

1. Stay optimistic about dating apps.

Dating apps are the most powerful tool in your dating tool box. If you’re feeling down about dating apps just remember this:

Now more than ever daters are finding love online. But regardless of this shift, people do tend to get down on dating apps around the holidays. Often parents and relatives don’t understand that online dating is the norm now. The latest news may not have helped that…

2. Tell your parents the dating apps aren’t dangerous.

You may have seen in the news that the safety of some of the best dating apps has been called into question. A recent investigation proved that registered sex offenders are finding victims through free dating apps and websites such as Tinder, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and more. 

This is terrifying. But, it’s also an opportunity to examine 1) which dating apps you are using and 2) how we are filtering potential dates

On episode #287 Dates & Mates, Damona discussed this with Rene Lynch, editor of LA Affairs in the LA Times. They break down this controversy: 

  • If you’re concerned about your safety, certain dating apps automatically use background checks against the sex offender registry – like Match. These are typically paid subscription dating apps that have the resources to filter for dangerous situations.
  • Do some research on your own! Before you meet your date in person:
    • Schedule a pre-date phone call or video chat & make sure that everything checks out.
    • A quick search on all social media platforms can tell you all you need to know about your match.
    • If something feels off to you, follow your intuition.

3. Think about dedicating some extra time to dating.

Damona always encourages daters to be proactive in finding love. And since we’re all on holiday, let’s take advantage of all the free time! A good rule of thumb is to dedicate five hours a week or more to your dating process.

4. If you’re experiencing dating app fatigue, take a break!

We have all been there. Sometimes you get tired of the seemingly endless and monotonous game of swiping. But once you take a step back, you realize that the dating apps are more than just swiping at faces. 

If you’re in a dating rut, make sure you take some time to regroup. As Damona says, it’s better to take a break than to bring the wrong energy into dating.

5. Revisit making IRL connections.

While you’re taking a break from dating apps, make an effort to meet people in real life and be more conscious about the kind of person you are looking for. You can actively search in relevant spaces where you can find potential matches with common interests. 

6. Where’s your match hiding?

If you’re looking for someone that has a professional career, you might want to go downtown at happy hour and chat up the people that work in those office buildings. Or if you’re looking for someone who has a big heart, try attending a charity event and places with people who make philanthropy a part of their lifestyle.

Do you have a dating resolution for next year? Reach out to us on socials (@DamonaHoffman on all platforms). Happy dating!