Falling In Love Online
Published: September 15, 2005
(After September 23, 2005, this article will only be available to eStat Database subscribers.)
Where are people going to get a date these days? The same place they go to do everything else: online.
A dozen short years ago very few people had an e-mail address — or were even online. But today, illustrating how the Internet truly is changing everything, going online is the one of the most popular ways to get a date.
Intel's recent report on digital lifestyles in Europe found that in some countries, as many as 13% of those with computers have tried Internet dating.
A report from Nielsen//NetRatings, "21st Century Dating: The Way It Is," found that one in every three Internet users in the UK would use the Web to meet a potential partner.
The Nielsen//Netratings poll found that while traditional methods such as meeting people through friends or at pubs and clubs still top the list of the most popular ways to meet potential partners, people are increasingly logging on to get a date. Work and online are tied as the third most likely places to find a date.
Alex Burmaster, an analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings, says "Whilst there may appear to be a social stigma that prevents people admitting to using a third party to help get a date, our research shows the reality is very different. Two of the leading online dating services in the UK have both attracted over half a million unique visitors in May and June 2005."
Nielsen//NetRatings found that men and women differ when it comes to what they are looking for in an online date. Women are more likely to be looking for friendship or shared interests. Men are more likely to be looking for a long-term relationship, intimate relationship, short term relationship or marriage, although the men were also four times more likely to be looking for a no-strings fling than women.
As far as what works online, to get the attention of a potential date, men are most likely to contact someone because they liked their photo, while women are most likely to contact someone based on their description.
"Our research does seem to reinforce the stereotypical differences between the genders," says Mr. Burmaster. "Men choose their dates based on looks but women, on the other hand, put far more emphasis on personal characteristics and descriptions."
Interestingly, even though 33% of respondents admitted to lying to some degree on their profile, men were more likely to use a photograph taken in the last 12 months and to tell the truth. Women, to quote the report, were "more likely to be creative with the truth."
The phenomenon of online dating is not limited to twenty-somethings. As USA Today recently wrote: "The gray-haired generation has discovered online dating in a big way."
"It's rapidly growing among the 50-plus market. I know it's making inroads into the 60s, too," Ron Geraci, special projects editor for the AARP magazine told the publication.
The article reported that Date.com sign-ups of members age 65 and older increased 78.5% from January 2004 to January 2005, and Match.com, another large online dating site, attracted 704,000 visitors age 55 or older in January, up from 606,000 a year earlier.
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