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There was also the fact that dating sites were more likely “attract people who are serious about getting married.” Paula Hall, a counsellor for Relate, agrees that the main advantage of online dating is that “couples are more likely to be on a level playing field and share the same agenda.“Any relationship that forms is more likely to be based on a shared value system, the same interests, the same legwork as opposed to a relationship based on chemistry alone, which, as we all know, is the quality that tends to fade first in a relationship.” The cheapest dating sites offer a smorgasbord for customers to browse, with thousands of men and women claiming a GSOH and posting out-of-date photos.

Others employ dozens of scientists to create sophisticated, top-secret algorithms to match customers with similar personality traits (as opposed to shared interests, which are a far less significant predictor of compatibility), ignoring the adage “opposites attract”. “One suspects a lot of their claims are hype,” says Professor Dunbar.“Do they really know what the criteria are that make a successful long-term relationship, when it’s not something that the scientists still know that much about?From Romeo and Juliet, to dashing Mr Rochester choosing plain Jane Eyre, we celebrated stories of Cupid’s dart striking randomly.But since 1995 when the first online dating site was launched, the tables have completely turned.“A secondary problem to this is feeling you don’t match up to your competition because the longer you spend on sites, the more you realise you’re up against vast numbers of singles.

Many singles I’ve met report starting out fairly confidently on online dating sites but then begin to feel they’re simply not good enough.” Lucy Wilkinson, has only one regret about her online dating adventures.One in five relationships in the UK starts online, according to recent surveys, and almost half of all British singles have searched for love on the internet.Just today, nine million Britons will log on looking for love.I’d always been attracted to mavericks, handsome men, who – after a year or so – made it clear they had no intention of settling down.“Although I felt a bit of a loser, I joined an online dating agency.But in the 20th century this all changed, with young people deciding they wanted to be in charge of their own domestic destinies.