Online dating services are a booming business and are extremely popular. At the start of 2006 there were over one thousand different online dating organizations in operation. Some of the most popular sites include Yahoo Personals, American Singles, eHarmony, Adultfrienedfinder app and Match.com.
A survey by the Online Publishers Association and comScore Networks, found that US citizens spent over 450 million dollars on online dating and personals services in 2004, on this basis online dating currently accounts for the largest portion of paid content on the Internet.
The start of the Internet also saw the start of online dating services but in these embryonic times there was an over-riding stigma attached to online dating. Not finding a partner the so-called normal way was seen as a sign of inadequacy and desperation. People who dated online were viewed as strange, socially inept or undesirable. A cinematic vehicle heralding a more positive public perception of online dating was the film “You’ve Got Mail” released in 1998. Later the public perception of online dating has completely transformed, it is now seen as an enlightened, easy and effective way of meeting people for relationships and marriage.
Online dating has some clear advantages over meeting people by chance. In particular online dating is targeted and systematic because you specify the sort of person you would like to meet before you meet them rather than just bumping into anyone. You can browse profiles of thousands of different people so you have a much greater degree of choice than in a live social situation where you are limited to the number of people present at the venue so you are less likely to find someone compatible. An element of personal detachment makes it much easier to start up conversations using online dating services whereas in a live social setting the fear of rejection may prevent this.
Despite all the stories of people being mislead, lied to and even kidnapped through online dating these risks are just as prevalent offline. Meeting someone at a bar offers no security at all whereas with online dating meetings are arranged only after a protracted exchange of emails during which both parties get an impression of their potential date before meeting them. Online dating is still a rapidly growing activity and has fundamentally changed the way people go about finding a partner.