Online dating goes mainstream

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Blame some of that on the creepiness factor, in which users finally tired of the endless barrage of oddball suitors from various sites. One former online dater said the abundance of freaks that sent her e-mails -- one resembled the Incredible Hulk while another said he preferred educated women who would spend their lives serving him -- turned her off the online scene.

Online dating goes mainstream - study

She eventually met her current boyfriend through friends. While growth has slowed down, online dating is too ingrained to fade away, said Bill Tancer, general manager of worldwide research at Hitwise, an Internet market research firm. There are currently nearly 1, dating Web sites, Tancer said, and online dating makes up 1 percent of all Internet usage -- in other words one out of every people logging on visits an online dating site. But now enterprising singles are being slightly more select in the sites they visit.

There are even sites centered on specific interests, such as Cowboydating.

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  5. Meanwhile, social networking sites like Friendster. Social networking is a difficult genre to classify. While it can be argued that all dating sites are about social networking at some level, sites like MySpace.

    Since the site is marketed to singles, families and even business people looking to network, users can chat with other users without the pressure of dating. Under the guise of sharing interests or friendship, those who log on are more inclined to find compatible mates. Patricia Costello, 33, e-mailed men in her first four months of Internet dating.

    She talked to 20 of them on the telephone at least once and met 11 in person. Of these, she dated four several times and then realized she had not found the one. One of the first lessons that subscribers to Internet dating sites learn is that life partners are difficult to find. Costello isn't ready to give up.

    Online dating goes mainstream

    She is convinced that she has a better chance to find her life partner in cyberspace than in the real world. Around one in three, or 32 percent of online adults, said online dating keeps people from settling down by giving them more options to meet people. This is the first time Pew asked this question.

    A number of respondents related negative experiences with online dating: The survey also found online daters going mobile: The survey highlights the growing role of the Internet in all aspects of Americans' lives. It found the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled in the last eight years to six percent of Internet users, up from three percent in the last decade, 11 percent said that their spouse or partner is someone they met online, the Pew researchers said.

    The Pew survey generally supports the findings of a study published in June by University of Chicago researchers, which found more than one-third of US marriages between and began with online dating. That study published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also found couples who meet online may be slightly happier than couples who meet through other means.