You Have to Click a Lot of Frogs to Find a Prince
Byline: By Carolyn Hitt Western Mail
Log on to love. More than seven million British singletons did last year, according to figures released today. While smug marrieds assume you have more chance of hooking up with a psychopath from Texas masquerading under an assumed identity, than Mr or Ms Right, the figures show the internet has become the mainstream way to meet someone special.
There's now a 50:50 chance that any single person you know is currently romancing on the world wide web. In my social circle there have been at least three online marriages, not to mention cyber offspring. In 2007, 7.8 million single Britons used some form of online dating service to find a potential partner, compared to the 5.4 million who used a "mixture of offline and online services" in 2005.
The research doesn't specify if "offline" services cover copping off in a club, enforced introductions at friends' weddings (don't they just love playing seating-plan Cupid, while your heart sinks rather than leaps) or dubious rugby weekend encounters when you really should have left your Pinot Grigio Goggles at home.
For wage slaves whose extra curricular life doesn't allow much space for offline activity, online flirting is becoming the norm. "With the busy lives that people lead today the old saying 'love only comes along when you least expect it' is at best outdated," says Dr Victoria Lukats, psychiatrist and dating expert. "The internet now allows single people to be much more proactive in finding a relationship."
The social stigma of online dating is apparently long gone. And while the process is less consumerist than eBay, the principle is the same. Log on, peer at the picture and blurb, decide whether it's genuine, then try to bag yourself a bargain. Or even a husband. Simple eh? And unlike anything you get from Amazon, he won't end up in the postal depot if you're not there to sign for him. But just remember you can't package him back up like an unwanted DVD either.
Some chaps aren't quite sure how to market themselves, particularly the rather scary Valleys bloke on one leading online dating website who is giving a two- fingered salute on his profile picture. Perhaps he's had his heart trampled on in the past, but his future chances of relationship success may be improved with a slightly more romantic gesture.
Then there are the middle-aged fantasists who can't cope with females of the same vintage. While women seem oblivious to online ageism, happily ticking boxes 10 years either side of their age, men almost always want younger models. This would be fine if they could prove their Silver Fox credentials, but if you're more Mickey Rooney than George Clooney, get real.
Yet the gap between fantasy and reality is one of the more amusing aspects of the search for love online. In the old days when we just matched up in the local dance hall, no-one produced a checklist of requirements before the final cha cha. Date on a website and you can demand anything from hazel eyes to high income bracket. …