Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Meet the Sex Surfers; Internet Dating Gets New Twist as Thousands Log on to Set Up Casual Flings

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Meet the Sex Surfers; Internet Dating Gets New Twist as Thousands Log on to Set Up Casual Flings

Article excerpt

Byline: ELIZABETH HOPKIRK

FORGET about looking for Mr Right on the internet. More and more women are interested in Mr Right-Now.

Thousands of people a month are posting their availability for no-strings sex on websites and many more are browsing for a casual relationship, liberated by the anonymity of email addresses.

One website even aims to link up married people who want an extramarital affair to relieve the "tedium" of their everyday lives. But experts today warned that "sex surfers" risk getting their fingers burned trying to find love or lust on the net.

They say there could be long-term emotional repercussions from drifting from one anonymous sexual encounter to another. "Ultimately, sex without real connections is unsatisfying even though it can be very thrilling for a while," warned Malcolm Stern, a psychotherapist and presenter of Channel 4's Good Sex Guide. "It's like a drug-fuelled high - it starts to become much less attractive.

But it's quite an addictive pattern."

One website originally aimed at antipodeans in London has seen its "casual encounters" page take off since it was launched in 2000.

About 3,500 ads are now posted each month, about 700 by women.

This is far more than on Gumtree.com's "relationships" section. And the majority of people browsing the page are women.

Lucy Freeman, from Gumtree.com, admitted: "It's quite addictive - people log on to have a look and a giggle and end up answering an ad. Before they know it, it's their main form of dating."

The site's founder, Michael Pennington, said: "The men are often expected to be quite well-built and the women sexually confident. I think also the fact that some of our users are in London on a relatively short-term visa makes them appealing.

"People can retain an element of emotional distance, or even anonymity, and can't get too involved. …

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