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The result is that, rather than being someone that defies all calculation, love is now big business worth an annual billion internationally and growing at 70 per cent a year – with high-tech venture capitalists, psychologists and software engineers reaping vast rewards.
Academics, meanwhile, are fascinated by the data being gathered — and largely kept secret — by the dating industry.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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dating sites offer a smorgasbord for customers to browse, with thousands of men and women claiming a GSOH and posting out-of-date photos.Moreover, couples who’d first met face-to-face reported slightly less satisfaction with their relationships than their online counterparts.Professor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.Anna Wilkinson has been married for seven years, has two young children, and – although exhausted – is delighted with her lot.“I was 33, had just broken up with my boyfriend and was beginning to think I’d never have a family life.One in five relationships in the UK starts online, according to recent surveys, and almost half of all British singles have searched for love on the internet.Just today, nine million Britons will log on looking for love.“I only wish I’d signed up years earlier, then Mark and I might have met sooner.Nobody’s perfect, but for me, he’s as close as it comes.” Follow Telegraph World News on Twitter The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend.“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.