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But other sites, which can cost up to £3,000 a year to join, offer their clients a bespoke selection of potential partners to share your love of sushi, dachshunds or The Apprentice.There are dedicated websites for every religion, for the unhappily married, for the beautiful – where existing members decide if you merit joining their ranks – the overweight, Oxbridge graduates, country lovers – not to mention Telegraph readers (dating.uk). Using slogans such as “love is no coincidence” they test samples of your saliva in order to make the best DNA match for you – claiming that these couples are more likely to have enduring relationships, satisfying sex lives and higher fertility rates.The researchers interviewed 20,000 people who had married between 20.Just over a third had met their spouse online – and their marriages were 25 per cent more likely to last than those of couples who’d met via traditional routes – in a bar, at work, or via family and friends.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dating sites offer a smorgasbord for customers to browse, with thousands of men and women claiming a GSOH and posting out-of-date photos.“A secondary problem to this is feeling you don’t match up to your competition because the longer you spend on sites, the more you realise you’re up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.
Academics, meanwhile, are fascinated by the data being gathered — and largely kept secret — by the dating industry.
But in the 20th century this all changed, with young people deciding they wanted to be in charge of their own domestic destinies.
Matchmakers were viewed as hook-nosed crones from Fiddler on the Roof or pushy Mrs Bennet at the Pemberley ball.
“I’d hazard that your chances of finding love through one of these sites is probably about 10 to 15 percentage points greater than through traditional means.” For all the claims of success, some experts warn that the online dating is making monogamy more, rather than less, elusive.
“I’ve found a tendency for the 'grass is greener mentality’ to set in, where the person they’ve set their sights on seems great until they decide to check out 'just a few more profiles’ and spot an 'even better’ singleton,” warns relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr, author of Love Academy.