Liars, communists and oil tycoons: Online dating is more popular than ever, but be prepared for a few surprises…

Janice Atkinson for The Daily Mail
6th February 2012

Online dating is vital in a society where the methods of forming relationships are grossly inefficient, claim psychologists from the University of Rochester in the US.

I have started writing a book called the Dating and Dating Manual which explored the dating game for those recently divorced, particularly those that had been out of the dating scene for years, in some cases decades. I interviewed many men and women about their experiences of dating since divorce.

The numbers who are looking for love means big money. While the divorce rate is falling, it remains very high. In 2009, the last year for which reliable information is available, there were 126,496 divorces. The average age of divorce is now 44.0 for men and 41.5 for women.  This group is willing to spend money on finding love. Jupiter Research found the average online romance seeker belongs to three sites and spends an average of $239 per year for online subscriptions, it’s big business and growing.

My own findings, whilst not empirical, were so typical of this age group who had decided to find love either through a dating agency or online dating. The women were more militant and picky about what they wanted from a man.  I interviewed around 40 people, mostly professional, all were solvent, all had children and were aged between 38-55 years.

The conventional dating agency route got the thumbs down from everyone interviewed. They said it was expensive, that the agencies were like preying mantis and only interested in the money, rather than the outcome. They all agreed that if you were male then the dating agency route was a better investment as on average, the ratio of male/females registered was around 30:70 but all preferred the internet.

Those that went down the internet route were the most fascinating and I recount my interviews below.  Mostly they are from women as they were the most open and hard-headed in their quest to find love. After identifying a likely date, they did not engage with long email conversations.  After two or three email exchanges and a couple of telephone calls they had two dates a week. They learned very quickly who the mad and sad were and those who were just after sex.

The interviews showed me that there was no stigma attached to online dating and those that were ready for dating did so with determination, zeal, hard-headedness and an open and honest attitude. However, it is not all joy as there are the gold-diggers of both sexes; the would-be immigrants looking for a passport and money and those that are just plain weird. Ladies, if you are in your late 40’s or 50’s then the men of the same age are looking for women at least 10 years younger. We may laugh and say they are looking for a nurse for their old age – the men certainly do not want children – but have this belief that a younger woman is more attractive. This is rather depressing and the result of this is that the women are now lying about their ages and having cosmetic fillers.

The US research also highlighted that the websites offering ‘scientific’ matching services where you spend hours answering personality trait questions are flawed as it is not possible to match to this extent.

My conclusion is that there is a whole new world for the divorced and dating but you have to be ready emotionally, and not mind spending hours on the internet sifting through potentials. A sense of humour is a must as is a highly tuned creep radar. Caveat emptor!

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