“We’d love to get hold of more of it, but they’re not keen to share though we’re in discussion with a few of them,” says Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University and author of The Science of Love and Betrayal.
“They have a huge database and they also can follow couples’ stories through, which hasn’t been possible so far.” For most of history, using a third party to help you find love was the norm.
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dating sites offer a smorgasbord for customers to browse, with thousands of men and women claiming a GSOH and posting out-of-date photos.
“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.
But since 1995 when the first online dating site was launched, the tables have completely turned.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?“I’ve known of people who end up spending countless hours on internet dating sites convinced they’ll find the perfect person.My message is no one is perfect so this is a futile endeavour.Cash-rich, time-poor professionals who already do everything from shop to socialise online, now see a search engine as the obvious gateway to love.Scarred by their parents’ (or their own) divorces, this generation approaches affairs of the heart with the same pragmatism as it might buying a car or booking a holiday.Moreover, couples who’d first met face-to-face reported slightly less satisfaction with their relationships than their online counterparts.Professor John Cacioppo, who led the study, said the sheer number of available potential partners online could be among the reasons for the results.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.