In an increasingly technical world, human interaction is down and virtual contact is up, but what are the pluses and minuses to dating online? Lisa Simmons investigates What’s the difference between initial eye contact across a crowded room and an email via a busy dating website? Perhaps less than you think. The bottom line: you can be as wrong – or right – about someone you slap eyes on in a bar as you can online. And your instincts will still be the only guiding force when it comes to weeding out the lovers from the losers.
Fate certainly ensures that we kiss a few frogs before coming up trumps with a Prince – however we meet him. Sarah, 31, from London, recently split from her husband of nine years. She made a list of things to do, which, alongside getting a cheeky tattoo and joining a gym, included signing up with an online dating agency. ‘After nine years of marriage, my social life was practically non-existent, as most of my friends were married. I registered with a few dating sites, and just reading other people’s profiles made me feel more human and less alone. It was only when I went on a date that reality bit,’ she grimaces. Incredibly, the overweight, chain-smoking vision waiting at the bar for me was a womanising friend of mine and of my ex-husband,’ she recalls. ‘Before I could bolt he spotted me and we spent the next two hours pretending to have just bumped into each other by chance. Both of us clearly recognised each other from our over-inflated descriptions on the site, even though we’d used nicknames. ‘ ‘I must say he had been rather optimistic with his ‘athletic build’, but I imagine he was just as disappointed that, despite my new post-divorce hairdo, I bore no resemblance to Meg Ryan.
We are still in touch but neither of us ever mentions the embarrassing encounter. ‘ Six months later Sarah met her second husband, Richard, a sports coach at the local gym she had just joined. It was on their second date that Richard confessed he had been on the brink of registering on some dating sites himself, including the ones Sarah had tried. ‘I am convinced we would have met somehow – even if it had been at the tattoo parlour once I got round to that,’ says Sarah.