But while the social stigma of online dating has long vanished, shadowy dangers do remain.
This week has thrown up a salutary tale, namely the shocking assault and rape of a 27-year-old woman by a man she had met on the general dating website Plentyof
They had met for dinner and drinks, but when Peter Ramsey, 26, attempted to kiss the legal secretary at her front door, she pulled back.
Then Ramsey, whom she described as seeming like “a nice guy”, suddenly pinned her to a wall and viciously attacked her.
• 25 million people used online dating sites in April 2011.
• The average user spends 22 minutes on a dating site each time he or she visits.
It’s atavistic, weirdly fascinating – and utterly terrifying.
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• Users spend about 12 hours a week online dating, including searching profiles and writing e-mails.
• By 2005, 37 percent of Internet users had tried online dating.
Most of our members work in the City of London and we cross-reference the personal details that prospective members give us with social networking sites such as Facebook, Linked In and Twitter, so we know they are who they say they are.” Dating sites range enormously in cost.
Plentyof Fish is free to join, Lovestruck charges £37 a month, and membership of bespoke agency The Picnic Project is £3,000 a year. Yet at a human level, too much specificity encourages an overly dogmatic “shopping list” approach to seeking a partner.