Online dating has come a long way. During the early and mid-1990s, there were already 16 dating websites listed in Yahoo!.
There were already web sites dedicated for lonely, sad and desperate people to meet, talk and possibly fall in love.
In fact, meeting on the internet became an important factor in the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail’. Some would say that social networking sites were products of the early dating sites.
But it was not always smooth sailing for this service. Online dating sites experienced slow growth during 2001 and 2002, but is now fully recovered. It has become one of the most lucrative online businesses, nowadays.
According to web measurement firm comScore Media Metrix, about 39 million Americans or 26% of web users have visited dating websites in December 2003.
Online dating and relationship is attracting more and more people, since they are less intimidating compared with normal dating.
In fact, in a survey conducted by The Sunday Times, 72 % of women and 52% of men have had online romance.
With a huge following, the revenues are also increasing. In 2001, web users spent a total of $72 million on dating services, according to the Online Publishers Association.
In 2002, the figures increased three times, people spent $302 million on personal paid advertising and dating services. Online dating services welcomed the first half of 2003 with a bang. Revenues were already $214.3 million in just six months of that year.
Online dating sites would allow users to search their database for possible love matches. The sites may recommend matches, but the users are still given the choice to communicate with them or look for other possible matches.
These sites offer different ways to connect with other users like online chats, internet calls (voice over internet protocol), games, webcasts and message boards. Sites may be free or may require members to pay monthly fees.
The increase of online dating followers can be attributed to different factors:
• Potential choices. There are a lot of members of dating sites and a lot of possible matches. This would give you a bigger opportunity in finding true love.
• Compared with going out on “real” dates, online dating is relatively more inexpensive.
• In a way, online dating sites provide you a great way of learning about other people more intensively without fear of embarrassment of rejection. For shy people, this would help them learn about the other person without fear of being humiliated.
If others consider online dating a great opportunity, others may regard this risky.
There are some free sites who would claim their success in online dating, however, these sites would also attract huge numbers of scammers and perverts since they are free.
In a study by the University of Texas Health Science Center, women who are up to online dating are vulnerable of stalking, fraud and sexual violence.
There are also users who would fall victims to people who would assume a different kind of personality just to attract other people or any response.
Online dating sites are not perfect since they may also encounter some problems. For example, some sites would fail to update their database. They would claim a large number of members when majority are inactive.
Others would complain because some profiles are just used as “baits” that are used to attract more members. There are also some sites which use their member’s email address to send spam.
Online dating is all about chance in getting love and relationship. Some would get lucky, while others may be unsuccessful. After all, the game of love is a risky game, whether it is online or offline.