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The Short Version: When Dennie Smith noticed she wasn’t approving of the romantic partners her daughter, Laurel, was meeting through online dating, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Some of the people were flaky or rude to Laurel, so Dennie founded OldStyleDating.co.uk to attract singles who are more respectful and commitment-oriented and who prefer a more classic form of courtship (which means the dating site doesn’t use any fancy algorithms to create matches).
Over the years, Dennie Smith’s daughter, Laurel, had tried most of the popular dating sites and apps, but she was frustrated with the results. Some of the men only wanted to hook up, instead of seeking to make a genuine connection, while others were disrespectful or unkind.
Seeing her daughter’s frustration, Dennie took action and set out to create a way for singles, like her daughter, to meet higher quality matches.
“I kept hearing how bad the other sites were, but I was finally inspired to create my own dating platform after seeing that my beautiful daughter couldn’t find a decent guy,” she said.
The answer was OldStyleDating.co.uk. The site translates Dennie’s love for all things vintage into online dating. When potential members think about the site, she wants them to imagine dinner and dancing in fancy attire, sipping milkshakes at a soda fountain, and spending a day at the seaside.
“I created Old Style Dating because I genuinely care. I didn’t set up the agency with money in mind,” she said.
Old Style Dating users aren’t always successful on other dating platforms. Perhaps they’re too serious or focused on long-term relationships, not hookups. Or maybe they have too much self-esteem to settle for dates that stand them up.
Dennie created a welcoming space where those types of daters can find the respectful pairings they seek.
“There are thousands of single people who are looking for a long-term relationship or marriage,” Dennie said. “They want someone who is polite and has good morals.”
Those who find Dennie’s website are different from modern daters in other ways, too. They are men who want to be chivalrous — think opening doors for women and pulling out their chairs — and the women who appreciate those gestures.
She also knows exactly the type of person who will be interested in meeting others on Old Style Dating. Successful users have good manners, a healthy level of respect for others and their boundaries, and seek a long-term partner for a stable relationship.
While that may sound like a standard list of traits, Old Style Dating users recognize that those characteristics are exceedingly rare in online romance.
“If you’re looking for a decent partner who wants to settle down, then we’re for you,” Dennie said.
However, the platform isn’t designed for people who want to pretend they don’t live in the 21st century. Instead, Old Style Dating fosters modern connections between people who enjoy being treated courteously — in life and in dating.
While her daughter inspired her to create the platform, Dennie said she understands it’s more than just Laurel’s generation that struggles with finding love online. Old Style Dating users span a wide age range, but they have to be at least 25 to sign up for the site.
Users from their 20s to their 60s have written testimonials for Old Style Dating.
Kate, age 28, said: “Signing up was really easy. I think it’s great, love the idea. It’s fab, and — fingers crossed — I’ll find someone lovely.”
Richard, age 66, agreed. “I do find this site superior to those others out there. A better class of people as well,” he said.
Another reason users appreciate Old Style Dating is because it doesn’t use any flashy tricks to lure users. For example, the platform doesn’t use a computer algorithm to suggests matches; instead, users can start chatting with any member who catches their eye.
“No more swiping, no algorithms. You decide who to date,” Dennie said.
The membership model is more straightforward than that of other platforms, as well. Some dating websites have complicated systems that force users to pay to talk to other members. On Old Style Dating, users pay a flat fee for a six-month membership. One payment secures full access to the website, with no hidden fees or charges for premium services.
“We don’t have fancy memberships like silver or gold. I find that distasteful, as we are all just real people,” Dennie said.
Users can also find helpful advice — written from the perspective of a mother who wants the best for her daughter. Dennie offers tips on the site’s informative blog for daters to present themselves appropriately and stay safe online. Other topics include tips for writing attention-grabbing messages to other users on the platform and handling rejection online.
What started as a way for Dennie to find a respectful date for her daughter has blossomed into a platform that has been featured in publications including The Sun and Glamour magazine. But Old Style Dating is just getting started. Dennie regularly seeks feedback from users on everything from the platform’s design to methods for communicating with other members.
She’s incorporating some of that feedback into the site’s new redesign, which she said will cater to more user interests.
Beyond a platform redesign, Dennie simply wants to make users happy. A self-described perfectionist, she monitors the platform herself. If a user asks a question, Dennie will answer it personally. She said that personalized customer service is one of the reasons users trust and appreciate Old Style Dating.
Dennie demonstrates how committed she is to helping her users find love.
“We offer dinner vouchers if you go on a second date, and we offer honeymoon vouchers if you marry through us,” she said.
Dennie offers those perks to reward daters on her platform for creating sincere partnerships. While other platforms might help users find a mate, Dennie believes that they often offer up false promises. The vouchers Dennie offers are tangible evidence of how seriously Old Style Dating takes its commitment to fostering long-term relationships.
Of course, the real reward is finding a partner who is respectful and committed — something many other dating sites can’t tout.
“My goal is to have lots of happy couples and revive old-style manners and morals,” Dennie said.