The leading online dating website, Match.com, which launched in 1995, has over 20 million members alone. Online dating websites have accounted for one out of six marriages as of 2009.
Free online dating websites like Ok Cupid, which launched in 2004, has over 3.5 million members, and Plenty of Fish, which launched in 2003, has over 10 million active users. Online Dating Magazine estimates that over 280,000 marriages a year are a direct result of online dating.
Many people today are turning to the internet as a tool for finding a partner.
The Internet has strong advantages but there are some serious pitfalls .
A "surfer" can immediately focus on people with similar interests, beliefs, age and other important criteria without having to spend time and money "going for coffee." Non-matching people can be sidestepped without ever needing to make contact.
It's "partner shopping" in a global supermarket of humanity.
Meaningful dating can be done at a distance, even in other countries.
Relating thru writing (emailing) is a quick and efficient way to learn a lot about a person and how they tick, with minimum initial commitment or investment face-to-face and is the heart of effective online dating.
If a "surfer" is not witty or doesn't write well, online dating can be difficult.
Prospects often circulate constantly thru a host of sites. This can make for cynical or dismissive prospects with little care for how their rejections or non-contact affects the feelings of others. Most humans are addicted to initial flirtations and the "drug" of being liked, appreciated and wanted. The connection is based on internalized and selfish feelings, often projections of what we are looking for, rather than what the other person is actually like.
This approach can morph people into the commodities of others' consumption. Individuals can be intensely "in love" one minute, and not at all later, simply based on appearance. This approach goes against almost everything our body, mind and the Net convinces us is real.
Often, people are in love with "being in love" not with you at all. It's good advice to ask for many photographs, so if physical attractiveness is important to you, a balanced look at someone over time and in many contexts is achieved. Don't project an illusion of a person from one image. The most pain, hurt, brokenness and distress caused online by people attempting to find the divine within each other, is a misunderstanding about the voracity of emotional online connection, and an abandonment of what true love really is.
Robin Williams says to Matt Damon in the movie "Good Will Hunting" (Miramax, 1997), "it's not about whether you are perfect for her, or she is perfect for you..you perfect for each other? A better way is to find perfect love within, and give that unconditionally to another imperfect human being (to whom you are, or are not, at times, "attracted").