Could this Danish dating site be a cure to Japan’s low fertility rate?

By on December 15, 2014

Japan’s current fertility rate of 1.43 % is slowly but steadily rising from 1.26% where it was in 2005. Compared to the last three years, the number of mothers in their 30s giving birth to 2nd and 3rd child is rising. Yet by no means is it an indication that the numbers are nudged up to a level the country needs to narrow down the gap between new births and its aging populace. A 2012 report by the Japanese government warns of a massive population decline from 127 million to 87 million by year 2060 with  60% coming from the 65 years or younger group.

Japan is not the only country grappling with a low birth rate. More than one in five couples in Denmark, the North European country of 5.5 million people are childless. Part of the reason is that fewer women are of childbearing age.
Emmanuel Limal who lives in Denmark and has a daughter from a failed union offers a solution.

“Being a good father has always been my life’s ultimate goal and not being able to really be physically present for my growing daughter was one of the toughest challenges of my life. In 2010, I decided to stop my acting career to be able to be at my daughter’s side most of the time,” declares the 44-year old Frenchman. It was at this point that his incessant search for a family orientated partner who equally wants to have children began. To increase his chances, he took his search online.

Emmanuel graduated as a Physicist in Sweden and was taking a master’s degree in Copenhagen when he fell ill. He was diagnosed with a serious lymphatic cancer. He then became a stage actor for the National Theatre School of Denmark and works as a playwright on the side, mostly on themes of love, religion and power.

Dismayed at the quality of dating sites he had used over time, he started his own. He named it Love & Kids connecting people seriously looking for a partner to have kids with. Tokyo families catches up with Emmanuel to ask him about his new project.

Love&Kids siteWhy did you start Love and Kids?

I was one day surfing on a well known Danish dating site when I came across a woman’s profile. She was apologising for wanting to have a child at 38. There is something perverted in the culture of dating. Why does a 38-year old woman feel the need to apologise for something as natural as wanting to have a family?

I was over 40 at that time and frustrated at not having experienced the joy of having a family – the joy of being close to a child and a partner.

I was very clear with what I put on my dating profile. There were nice women who contacted me. Some are not sure if they want children while others have kids and don’t want more.

If you want a family and children but your potential partner does not see it that way, the chance of taking the relationship to a higher level is flat zero. For example, it is hard to match a person with 2 or 3 kids who’s just out of a 14-year relationship with someone who is childless and has been single for 6 years in a row.
All dating sites we see today is all about physical looks, a necessary prelude to attraction. If you want to build a family, you have to look beyond that. Check that you share some common dreams, aspirations and values about how you envision the next chapter of your life to unfold. 

After a long discussion with two friends, I decided to start my own dating site dedicated to helping people to find a partner with whom to raise a family. Essentially, it is not for those who seek dating partners for other purpose.

I really hope it helps many people find fulfillment through my site.

Emmanuel with daughter-300dpiWhat was your whole personal experience in finding a potential partner on a dating site?

I had met some nice women on dating sites. Online dating is a fantastic means to meet people outside your work and social circle. Let’s not forget that.

Most dating sites do not divide its members into subgroups so that means if there are only 300 people sharing your dream, looking at 6.000 profiles is pointless and a waste of time. It’s easy to believe that opportunities are endless with sites claiming to have a wide membership but that’s merely an illusion.

A dating site is a great invention. From my personal experience however, people don’t cut to the chase. They are often not clear with what they want so other users follow the pattern.

How was the response to your site when it started?

The response was amazingly good. I got a lot of positive feedbacks from men and women who, like me, long for a place where they could freely express the desire to have a family. I have seen such statements only a few times in some of the biggest dating sites I’ve tried, whereas it’s quite often mentioned in user profiles at Love & Kids.

Another thing users mention as convenient with my site is not having to think about with whom and when to bring the topic of kids up. Everybody is on Love & Kids because they think the subject matters and are open to talk about it.

Emmanuel LimalHow’s the online dating scene in Copenhagen like for people who want to start a family?

Well, up until now, there have only been two options: a big online site or Love & kids where all users can freely choose between 1) wanting a family with ‘only bioloigical children’ or 2) wanting a family with both ‘biological and stepchildren’.

We make sure that the big question is answered by all our users. They have to think about it and make a choice.

What’s unique about Love & Kids? 

I actually need to make a distinction between the current site we have and the one we are yet to launch in December 2014.

Right now, Love & Kids is unique because:
1. All users must state clearly what kind of family life they want to have
2. Users can create activities and meet in a more social way
3. Love & Kids works also like a social network where you can display a dynamic profile using your own feed.
4. We write blogs about love, dating and family matters to inspire users.
The new Love & Kids will add 3 big unique features
1.  With Love & Kids 2.0, users will have to show interest in a profile for two users to be able to contact each other. User will know in advance whether the other person is open for a conversation or a date. This means no more embarrassing rejections.
2. We have added a check-in feature that allows users to meet each other in the city while out and about.
3. We will launch a social-dating app connected to Love & Kids.

Do people have to pay to be a member?  If so, what’s the difference between a paid and free membership? 

As in most Danish dating sites, you have to pay to be a member. Through a free access, users are able to see member’s profile while the premium (paid membership) allows you to contact others.

I am against using advertising and selling site data to third parties as others do. We don’t do that.

Furthermore, I think paying is a good way to put off people who are not serious. If you are not ready to invest anything in your love life, then it’s probably not important for you so you should go to some place else, not Love & Kids.

Is there an automatic translation feature from one language to another?

Right now I am not ready to open the site to automatic translation. I fear misunderstanding can lead to some unwanted issues. I also want to be sure that we stay in control of how people use the site, which requires keeping out people who will not behave properly.

The new site will be in Danish, English and then Swedish to start with. Then we will launch German and French sites as we find the right partners.

To have the site and mobile application open in Japanese will require finding the right Japanese partner which we haven’t done so. The partner we seek should be able to put in the necessary resources to keep the site up and running. A good knowledge of the Japanese culture is also important.
How different is the new site you will be launching from the old one?

Up until now we have had a simple match function for the most important criteria like age, family type, religion, politics, etc. That will soon be gone in the new version, as we believe users know what they want better than anybody and can therefore match themselves without the aid of algorithm.

Algorithm is for the most part, a good sales point, but from what I have read, it just does not work in the real world.
Tell us about your idea of a best match in couples.

For me the best match is both simple and complicated. 

The simple part – both partners must have basically the same dream. 
• More children or not. 
• Do they want only biological children or are stepchildren part of the picture? 
• Living in the city or in the countryside?
• Common values.
• If one partner is religious, a good understanding and acceptance of it.

That was the easy part. The complicated one is, well… chemistry. Your brain reacts to the way the other one smells, moves, speaks, kisses, makes love, touches, argues etc. You have to be in touch with your gut feeling to see if the relationship is for or against you. You can argue to the end of time, but chemistry will always be the bottom line.
I do not know the Japanese culture enough to know whether it makes sense to say that in Japan. But that is what I believe in and what my overall experience has proved

1How does someone from another country sign up to be a member?

Right now, Love & Kids is only open to Denmark. I hope to be able to open for Sweden in January and maybe to other countries in February depending on whether we have found good partners to grow with or not.

Japan would be a great country to help, as it shares a low fertility rate with Germany and Greece. Around 1.3 birth per woman I think, is 0.8 under what is necessary to maintain a healthy level of population, with migration and immigration excluded.

If any serious Japanese partner comes along, we should be able to launch in Japan too. It just needs translation and management of the site to keep unserious members out.

Tell us about your members.
Our members are mostly between 24 and 48 years old, with the vast majority in the 28 and 44 age group. By gender, 49% of the members are men, 51% are woman, and over 63% are highly educated. They mostly live in the bigger Danish cities.

Has someone had any luck finding a potential partner from your site?
Yes, several members have written to tell me that they have met somebody. I am still waiting for the first picture of a baby. 
Danes are shy, so I guess it will take some time. 
Many dating sites have been targeted by scammers or people misrepresenting themselves online. How safe is your site and what security measures are in place?
Denmark is a small country and the language is quite special, so it’s easy to identify scammers. With the new site coming along, nobody will be able to spam others unless they are accepted,.

Spotting a false profile is a trickier one, that even Facebook struggles with. I have a plan for the next generation of the site to integrate SMS control and a bigger social media integration. I am looking forward to it.

Overall, the biggest threat for a member of a dating site concerns women. They receive canned messages from men which can be annoying. That is what most women complain about and that’s the reason why we will be restricting messages only between people that are a match.

What is your vision for Love & Kids?
My vision is clearly to help as many people as possible to find love and build a loving family. I know what it is to dream of having children and see years quickly pass by. It’s not fun.
My ambition is to integrate Love & Kids into a social media platform where members can freely interact. Our dynamic feed-profile is already better than the classic pictures and text profile but that’s only the first step.

2How do people find your site? Do you partner with other dating sites?
Right now we do not partner with other dating sites. We need to launch the new version first. Then I hope to partner with sites proposing events to our members. 

To find us, google up “loveandkids” or go to where people from all over the world can make a request for access in their country.

So if people from Japan wants us there, make your request known by logging on to our site.

Lastly, any tips on how to find the perfect life partner on your site?
My tip is simple. Spend time thinking about the key foundation upon which you want to build your life and family. Really spend time on it. Imagine your life with and without children. Imagine yourself living in the country side or in the city. Do you see yourself working a lot or less? Would you rather do something for the world or for yourself?

See what gives you positive energy. Share your hope and aspiration with friends and family.

Most of the people rarely bother looking inward or describing themselves with clarity because they are afraid of putting potential partners off. The problem is that if you do not communicate what you want and how you want to live, you end up attracting the person that is not good for you.

That is what I believe and my best tip to all. 
And remember – a dating site is just a tool. Pick someone that’s right for you and make it work.

Emmanuel Limal has finally found the love of his life and is presently sharing a home with two lovely daughters in Copenhagen.

Carl Johnson spoke to Emmanuel Limal.

Emmanuel is the founder of Love & Kids, a new online dating site for people who are looking for a life partner to grow a family. If anyone is interested to partner with Emmanuel Limal in Japan, he may be reached through his website

About Carl Johnson