back to article Love in the time of the internet: A personal memoir

Another year, another Valentine's Day – that annual event when restaurant, retail, and romance businesses try to make every uncoupled person feel wretched about themselves, and put otherwise successful relationships under enormous pressure to make February 14 a "special" day. As such, a lot of people will be looking for new …


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  2. Jean-Luc

    You lost me at...

    >and it's highly advisable to bring a friend along with you as backup

    Seriously? I have never been on a date where the lady brought along a friend. I don't think I'd go along if told in advance and I am pretty sure I would not go to a second date if it was sprung on me.

    But public spaces are indeed a sine qua non.

    Btw, the cleverest, simplest, argument I've seen for online dating was a long time ago, in a paper personal:

    "Would it be better to hope that we'll meet while walking our respective poodles?"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: You lost me at...

      I have never been on a date where the lady brought along a friend.

      I did once. Best date ever.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You lost me at...

        My Date brought along her daughter to help with her English (They are both Russian). We've now been together 10 years and my date is now my wife.

        We met on Yahoo fwiw.

        However another of my friends has had a real bad experience with Internet Dating. She was nearly abducted by her date and has had to move several times to get away from him despite court orders and the like he still thinks he owns her.

      2. 4.1.3_U1

        Re: You lost me at...

        "I did once. Best date ever."

        Should read:

        _Best_ _Date_ _Ever_

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You lost me at...

        I did once. Best date ever.

        Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more!

    2. CraPo

      Re: You lost me at...

      > Seriously? I have never been on a date where the lady brought along a friend.

      Like on The Undateables, when a chaperone goes along with them...

    3. BlueGreen

      Re: You lost me at...

      I went on a meetup arranged off a website. The lady brought her 20 year old daughter, of all things. (that went nowhere btw)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You lost me at...

        Sounds alright by me.

        A lot better than dating a 20 year old who's brought her 50 year old mother along.

  3. Mondo the Magnificent

    A good article and and it highlights a lot of truths about the Interwebz dating thing..

    I recall IRC was always a fairly decent resource for "Internet dating" and I know a few couples who hooked up on the IRC #Channels in the mid 90's and are still together today.

    Sadly unlike the proper dating websites that require a valid email and often require credit card details, IRC was also the hunting grounds of some unscrupulous characters too, good moderation was really needed to protect the unaware from these type of people

    In my experience, I find Internet dating tends to bring people together from afar. I know of people who have met their ideal match, however their "match" may live in another state or country. The glue that initially holds them together tends to be phone calls and Skype, but, hey it works for them

    Quite a few have actually met their distanced cyber-matches and made it work, I do know of some who have been gravely disappointed too..

    1. Stoneshop

      For me it was Usenet

      And for a few others too, although I can't tell if there were additional ports involved there.

    2. JetSetJim
      Thumb Up

      Worked for me...

      Excellent points in the article - internet dating does allow you to initially "sort the wheat from the chaff", so to speak and at least weed out the weird/otherwise undesirable matches.

      The added plus is the initial meetups can be in more unusual public places which you wouldn't normally associate with dating sites (e.g. bars) - I met my wife at Longleat after contacting her on the site, for example. A bit of amused blushing on both our parts as during the drive through the tiger enclosure a pair of them started copulating next to the car.

      Being the shy type, I always found it odd to attempt to go up to a complete stranger in a bar/nightclub - invariably ending up shouting "what?" a lot as the music was too loud.

    3. Franklin

      "In my experience, I find Internet dating tends to bring people together from afar. I know of people who have met their ideal match, however their "match" may live in another state or country. The glue that initially holds them together tends to be phone calls and Skype, but, hey it works for them."

      I've actually had the opposite experience. I started dating one of my partners, who lived close to me and I'd known socially for a while, because a dating Web site suggested that we'd be a good match. (It was right, by the way. We've een datng for about eight years now.)

      On the other hand, I met another of my partners in person rather than on a Web site, and she turned out to be rather a long ways away...I live in Oregon, she liives in London. We met waiting in line for an elevator (or as they say in the language of her people, in a "lift queue") and have been dating for about five years now. I got to see the fair city of London for the first time by gong out to visit her, in fact.

      Important travel tip, for those who might follow in my footsteps: Never, ever tell the gentleman at customs "I'm here to see my girlfriend!" when he asks why you're visiting the UK. The resulting conversatioon is as unpleasant as it is long.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know you are a geek when..

    You end up hooking up with the lady at the far side of the restaurant, because your Iphone/other device noticed their Iphone/other device, sent it an automatic ping and they checked it to see why "their" date hadn't turned up... !

    I know someone who had this happen.


  5. John Tserkezis

    provide some tips on how to get the best match possible while avoiding the oddballs.

    Hey! Oddballs want love too you know!

    1. BlueGreen

      damn right! I *am* one of the oddballs, thank you very much.

      Funny how it never occurs to 'normal' people how dully conventional they might look from some other, novel standpoint.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        I'm interesting

        You're an oddball. They're batshit insane.

        1. pepper

          Re: I'm interesting

          Now then, batshit insane is one of the better types of insane, have you ever smelled cow dung, or for that matter stood in it wondering how you got wherever you are that you may actually traverse through cow dung?

          What are we on about again?

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: I'm interesting

            Depends on the bat, as a general rule of thumb herbivore shit smells better than carnivore shit smells better than omnivore shit.

            eg pig shit is much worse than cow shit.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              Re: I'm interesting

              @phuzz: (in regards to the various types of fecal matter)

              .... I did not need to know that.

              *reaches for the brane bleach*

  6. Robin

    Fake Profiles

    Good article, particularly the point about paid-for versus free services.

    On one of the free ones, I've seen a few fake profiles. i.e. Person with a supermodel-looking photo requests a chat out of the blue. It'd be nice if this really happened, but when your instinct tells you something's not right it's generally correct. Suspicions can be confirmed by dropping the profile picture in question into Google images and finding it appears on several hundred other sites with completely different names.

    Besides that though, I've struck up some pretty decent conversations so far. I've only been trying it for a few weeks so far out of interest, so let's see!

    1. Scrumble

      Re: Fake Profiles

      I had someone contact me on plenty of fish. Apparently Natalie Imbruglia had changed her name, and moved to Grimsby, and was looking for lurve lol. What I could never get my head around was women including pictures of their kids. Aside from the fact that photo with six kids would put a lot of men off, who in their right minds puts photos of their kids on a site like that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake Profiles

        plenty of fish


    2. fridaynightsmoke

      Re: Fake Profiles

      I had a message once from a supermodel who lived in Wolverhampton. Her pastimes were walking on the beach and skiing in the mountains. I didn't realise there were beaches and mountains near Wolverhampton. Also I didn't know they used US 110v sockets in Wolverhampton, but according to her photos they do. You learn something every day, don't you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake Profiles

        Hahaha - yup, seen those too.

        I've had a look at some of those sites, and by simply creating a profile you tend to immediately get email if you use a decent picture. I was quite impressed by the long term strategy - it took 3 or 4 emails before they tried to get me to call their high rate call number because that would be "safer"..

        Personally I can't see the point of such sites. From what I have helped friends with, they are mostly populated by gangs abusing people's loneliness to scam them. No thanks.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake Profiles

        You noticed the sockets?

        Yeah, that's something I'd probably notice too.

        1. Robin

          Re: Fake Profiles

          "You noticed the sockets?"

          Are those 110V pins darlin' or are you just ... erm .... no forget that.

  7. LinkOfHyrule
    Paris Hilton

    My advice would be

    If he/she mentions Western Union - RUN!

  8. Harman Mogul

    We can all do it!

    >It's not too hard to craft a good bit of writing

    Ha ha, the triumph of hope over experience!

  9. tony2heads

    can turn out badly

  10. David Given

    Required reading for anyone interested in the subject is OKTrends' "Why you should never pay for online dating". It got pulled after OKCupid was acquired by one of the companies they were damning in the article, but there are cached copies everywhere:

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worked for me too

    I'd signed up to one of those casual dating websites and was definitely not looking for a long term relationship, just enjoying being 'back in the game'. A few dates in and I fell in love at first sight & now plan to marry the girl.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worked for me too

      I should also point out that in terms of bringing a chaparone. I actually met her mum at the start of our first date, bit nerve-racking that surprise; she approved of me & we went out for dinner alone (me & the girl, not me & her mum).

  12. Wish You Were Here
    Thumb Up

    Worked for me

    Free sites do work. Plenty of fish worked for me. Met Mrs. WYWH 27 months ago today on there. There is quality on the free sites but like all things in life, you need to use some common sense. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worked for me

      I think that any online dating site has several distinct groups of people on it.

      1) The genuine people looking for a relationship. These people get snapped up relatively quickly and leave the pond of available people on the sites.

      2) The genuine people with something wrong with them, (poor relationship skills, really, really high standards or whatever) but looking for a relationship. These people say in the available pond more or less indefinately and account for a lot of funny stories about online dating.

      3) The players, looking for sex instead of a relationship. They don't "leave" the site and remain in the pond indefinately preying on fresh meat that might not realise the different groups of people involved and account for a lot more not so funny stories about online dating.

      People who do find people on dating sites don't admit it, and say they met at X. They might even be technically telling the truth if they say where they met in person for the first time offline! This removes the positive stories from the mix, and leaves only the bad ones. Generally.

      Strangely, people seem genuinely surprised that there are a lot negative stories about dating sites and a lot of people on there whom you really wouldn't be that interested in dating...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worked for me

      In my experience of Plenty Of Fish, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably from Llanelli.

  13. jake Silver badge

    Daft thing is ...

    ... all the singles at coffee shops & "purchase a lonely meal for one" emporiums, flashing their hardware bling, obviously desperate for a date, yet so intent on their iFad/fAndroids that they don't grok that there is a MOTAS within fifteen feet ... who is equally desperate for a date.

    If you're a Yank, eyeball the pre-made so-called "food" section of Whole Foods Market at meal time to see what I mean. It's really quite sad.

    Drop your internet connection, singles, and look around you! It ain't rocket science ... humans have been finding local partners since before there was fire.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Daft thing is ...

      Damn it jake...

      While I'm 100% with you on guys actually paying attention to all the girls that are actually there, I'm going to have to deduct 50% because you posted the Whole Foods info in a public forum. That's just low man. You can't go telling secrets like that!

    2. Nuke
      Thumb Down

      Re: Daft thing is ...

      Wrote :- "Drop your internet connection, singles, and look around you! It ain't rocket science ... humans have been finding local partners since before there was fire."

      The wimmin must have had fewer airs and graces back then. I have tried your idea and they told me to f@#k off.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Daft thing is ...

        @Don ... As a geek/nerd who never had issues dating (I know where the stereotype came from, and why, having partially grown up in Silly Con Valley in the 1960s & '70s), and is now happily married to the most wonderful woman in the world, I feel a need to share tips ;-)

        @Nuke ... Try bathing occasionally. It's the little things ...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'I've spent the last 20 years using the internet for dating'

    Oh... that must mean it works!

  15. Cosmo

    My experences

    I have and am currently on two dating sites - PlentyOfFish which is free, and Match which is a pay site.

    The numbers on POF are good, but the quality is very, very low:

    * Fake profiles (easy to spot though)

    * Unemployed single mums with multiple kids who live in a craphole of an area

    * Cougars (Think Dorien from Birds of a Feather) looking for toyboys *shudder*

    * Lots of lonely girls who just want to "chat" but have no intention of going on a physical date

    Match is a little better but:

    * Very expensive for what it is

    * You have no idea if the girl you send a message to can actually read your message as she may not be a full member

    * Some girls have a list of requirements longer than you arm

    * If you live in a non-metropolis area, your options are restricted

    Saying that, it sounds like I've had a bad time, but in the last year I've probably had about 12 dates, of which 10 were great and 2 were disasters (old pic and a cat lady). It really is a numbers game though. The only way that you'll get replies as a man is to send as many good quality messages as possible.

    1. Anonymous Coward 15

      Re: My experences

      The odds are good, but the goods are odd.

  16. That Awful Puppy
    Thumb Up

    I've met my share of nutters ...

    ... including one girl, who, after one date (which went by without any physical contact whatsoever) decided that I was the love of her life (I didn't quite reciprocate) and eventually nearly forced me to change my phone number after pestering me with calls night and day.

    On the other hand, I've also met quite a few very nice girls - sometimes, things didn't work out, and sometimes, they did.

    However, I never found anyone on a dating site as such - mostly, it was just chatrooms and various forums.

    Oh, and internet dating is indeed a boon for not particularly attractive folks with the social skills of a demented turtle, such as me. Picking up women in bars or indeed initiating any sort of physical contact is, I'm afraid, very much beyond my abilities.

  17. DrewG

    I've had some success with Internet dating, as someone else said plenty of fish is good for numbers. Chatted to quite a few girls, went on about 10 dates before finally meeting my current girlfriend, just over a year later and things are going really well. I will admit that about half those dates I had to bail out on, stay away from the freaks!

  18. Great Bu


    ....who's up for a good hard shag ?

    ( I'll even bring my own goose fat )

    1. Simon Smith 1

      Re: So...

      Why? Are you intending to make roast potatoes?

    2. Anonymous C0ward

      Re: So...

      Will that be a European Shag or a Great Cormorant?

      Shags are quite close to boobies according to Wikipedia...

  19. Mattjimf

    I met my wife on Uniform Dating. We exchanged messages/emails for about 3 months before we finally met up (me being an hour late).

    I travelled to visit her a couple of times, then she came to visit me, I was looking for a job in two cities, decided it would be easier to look in one and moved in with her.

    I have used various different dating/meeting sites, most for short term dalliances.

    A friend of mine was due to meet a girl in a club while we were out, I went with him, he met her, and then ran out saying that she was nothing like she had described and her photo had suggested.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Which one of you had the uniform? Does a burger flipper at the big M count as one?

      1. Mattjimf

        Neither of us oddly enough, she was looking for a soldier, I was hoping to get a nurse to be honest.

        And funnily enough I did use to work for the golden arched one, but that was long before signing up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nurses uniforms aren't what they used to be.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nurses uniforms aren't what they used to be.

            And all the nurses I know are overweight borderline alcoholics. Those shifts aren't conducive to mental wellbeing... :/

  20. Nick Pettefar

    Satisfied Customer

    When I started contracting in Germany in 2000 I used German dating sites and went on lots of dates, finding a short-term girlfriend, several girl friends and finally the woman I've been with ever since. My advice is to exchange the bare minimum of messages beforehand, just enough to agree and arrange to meet up. No amount of e-mails or messages will make up for physical unattraction or incompatibility. I also recommend meeting for just a coffee or tea so that you can limit your time together in case you are stuck with someone you find intolerable; if it goes well you can always order food! I've been stuck with some women where that one drink seemed to last forever and in one case I met up and we didn't even bother ordering, just left.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ACs online dating

    Being the socially awkward / shy person that I am, I never found it easy to find dates.

    I had friends who could go on a night out and guarantee to pull. One of them wasn't even particularly handsome in the conventional sense, but he managed to get into conversations (usually outside smoking I might add...) and could talk his way into anything.

    I'd tried the 'big name' sites such as okcupid and match, but to no avail. It does seem like sites like these are made up of 70-80% guys trying to chase the same small group of ladies.

    Had more success on a local classified site (which no longer has a dating section).

    Some you would email for a while, then never hear from again. Others had the courtesy to reply that they aren't a match. Some wouldn't reply after seeing your photo.

    Got a few dates off it.

    Usually met at a coffee shop, time for conversation, no chance of getting drunk.

    Some were nice, got a couple of weeks of dates, but it would go nowhere.

    Others were a bit of a mistake. One asked me to agree to just be friends, then phoned me up the next day to go somewhere when I was already on a roadtrip, then texted me angrily that I didn't say no to just being friends. Another set up a date at a dodgy local football social club. The type of place that has a buzzer on the door to get in, no windows, sticky tables but cheap pints. After hearing some frankly scary views on community integration, I ended it the next day. Feared for my car for a while after, as daftly I had let on where I worked.

    Did meet my current other half online, and we have been going strong for a few years.

    However, when anyone asks where we met, we give a false story that we met in a bar over a spilled drink incident.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not worth the effort

    I was single around the age of 30 (10 years or so back) and tried internet dating. Waste of time.

    I gave up after 3 months and just decided to be single, go out drinking with my mates when they were available and somebody would turn up. And if they didn't, at least I'd have had a skinful and a kebab. You might even pull on the bus or train home.

    After a year I met a very nice girl from South America in a bar, and I'm now married to her and we have two kids.

    I think the best thing you can do to meet people is to join some clubs and go out drinking. Just put yourself in situations where you actually meet members of the opposite sex and eventually you'll find someone. Internet dating was a miserable, disappointing experience for me. I'd far rather go to the pub or a club and see real people who I might get talking to than sit alone at home clicking through the internet hoping desperately that my messages don't get ignored.

    1. Nuke

      @cap'n - Re: not worth the effort

      Wrote :- "I think the best thing you can do to meet people is to join some clubs and go out drinking. Just put yourself in situations where you actually meet members of the opposite sex and eventually you'll find someone. Internet dating was a miserable, disappointing experience for me."

      I am not criticising, your experience is valid, but interesting that you are only the second commentator here I have found so far to be anti internet dating.

      I would like to know what "situations" you found where you actually met eligible members of the opposite sex. Depends on what you mean by "meet". The only situation I ever found was at public dance venues, but approaching girls there only led to being told to get lost (or worse). I don't call that "meeting".

      It remains a mystery to me what those (or indeed most) girls wanted or expected. I am not even bad looking (a clean-cut athletic type, Naval Officer at the time). They say women don't go for looks anyway, and prefer intelligence, stability and money - but how the hell do they ever find out those aspects out if they tell a guy to f@#k off at his first approach?

      Before I married the only "social" conversations (is lasting more than 15 seconds) I ever suceeded in having with a woman my own age were with ones from dating agencies (I started with the earlier postal agencies). When meeting that way, both parties have at least passed each others' preliminary filters, and there is already a level of commitment - enough to carry you through at least one date during which you get to know each other more still.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In 1986, was set up in the US"

    Really? The domain name was only registered in 1997. How would Internet dating by Telnet and FTP work exactly, anyhow? :-)

  24. squigbobble

    Things I have learnt in a decade of Net dating

    1. If you're a socially retarded minger offline you're still a socially retarded minger online, assuming you're honest enough to use your own pix

    2. Pay most attention to the worst pic on the other person's profile

    3. (More of a general dating pointer) Cinema dates are pointless unless you're spending as much time outside the cinema as in it. This is not helped by my compulsion to troll my film buddy by offering them food after any minging scenes. See point 1.

    4. If you're still messaging the other person after a week, arrange a meet. Messaging for too long will stale the nascient relationship through of the lack of physicality.

    5. In ye olden days of forums, the most 'success' I had was in the forum for the nightclub that I was a regular of as this makes it ridiculously easy to meet the person offline. Nowadays you could probably do this with the nightclub's fb page.

    6. The Net is probably the best place for meeting couch potatoes and introverts.

    7. According to okc, pix of males are considered more attractive if they're not looking at the camera. Weirdly, my most highly rated pic is of me trying to look at a soft toy that's balanced on my head.

  25. Wize

    I met my other half online

    It used to be an awkward thing to mention to anyone. The internet, smart phones and all that stuff used to be seen as a thing for just geeks but more and more are using it.

    These days, we quite happily admit to it.

    Though there are a lot of crazies out there. Going to a pay-for site does help filter most of them out, but they still make it on there.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AC for obvious reasons

    I tried Match and plenty of fish which led to three relationships that lasted several months each. Joined a swingers site after the last one, obviously not looking for anything meaningful, but met someone who I just clicked with. Been together three years now, and will be married in a couple of months. Internet dating does work, not always in the usual way.

    Needless to say, both families think we met on Match. There's not many that would lie about meeting on there as its the better option. LOL

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AC for obvious reasons

      Did you test-drive 'The Lifestyle'?

      If so, how did you find it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AC for obvious reasons

        Never heard of it, I'm going back four years since we met. The site we used was fabswingers.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are you looking for...?

    Travelling the world and living overseas for extended periods, is a great way to meet someone and if nothing else you'll have some great stories to tell. This can be especially true If you're finding you can't meet someone in your own home country!

    In Asia and South America women are clearer about what they want IMHO. Many are traditional too, and are happy to meet western guys. I can only say positive things here. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I found dating women from the US and UK to be head-wrecking!

    1. Nuke
      Thumb Up

      @ac 13:10 - Re: What are you looking for...?

      Wrote :- "In Asia and South America women are clearer about what they want IMHO. ..I found dating women from the US and UK to be head-wrecking"

      Basically, the US and UK women are spoiled by the high ratio of men-seeking-women to women-seeking-men. With equal pay, many Western women have settled for single sexless lives (perhaps after a short fling period). Also, the high number of unmarried mothers (in UK at least) means that many are partly or fully out of the scene (childcare is expensive) while OTOH the fathers remain in it. On top of that the number of male immigrants greatly exceeds the number of female ones. The girls left in play can afford to be very fussy.

      As you say, there are parts of the world where women remain traditional and in the majority - perhaps those left behind where the male immigrants came from. I knew a South American girl who expected Englishmen to be "gentlemen" and was naively trusting - a lovely feminine and straightforward girl. She COULD trust me but I warned her to be more cautious with others.

      In my next life I don't think I will bother with the NW European or USA women.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know AOL doesn't count as 'internet' strictly speaking (particularly in 1992), but that's where I met my first wife. Divorced a few years later. Surprisingly quickly, met another lady on AOL, and she's now my wife of seven years and it's looking good for the next few decades. So, hit or miss for me personally.

    In my experience, chatrooms tend to bring out folks' natural personalities (for better or for worse). If you're very socially withdrawn but are a sharp wit with a keyboard, it's the place to go. Bonus points for correct grammar and spelling, which seem to be the equivalent of pecs and biceps at the local club.

    And if you're into less 'vanilla' pursuits, look up FetLife. It's not a dating site per se, but a social site with plenty of potential.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you're going to spend $ to find love then why not do ....

    Pick-Up-Artist training..

    Its much more empowering than online dating. Don't take it seriously though, as the industry and people working in it are creepy to the point of Scientology!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you're going to spend $ to find love then why not do ....

      Another vote from me too for PUA.


      1 - don't visit their websites without popup protection. Whoever does the marketing for those people appears to be from the 90s porn scene, which means popunders and "don't leave us until you have seen this offer" exit messages (at least, that's the only thing I remember from that time, which shows how boring the stuff must have been that I looked at, grin). Ditto for email, and you want to avoid the videos as well because you'll waste 6 minutes of your life hearing a promise that is never delivered.

      2 - go to a weekend bootcamp and RELAX. The most important thing they will help you to crack is approach anxiety, and getting some honest feedback. Do NOT see this as the moment you get hooked up, this is acquiring skills and some fun exercises.

      3 - bootcamps only work in large cities, and best with reasonable weather. Expect to be back very late, so get to know the night bus system or make sure you carry enough cash for a taxi to your hotel later..

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Rules of Internet Dating


    2/ Dont fall in love with a photo - it may be ancient, fake, or heavily photo-shopped*


    4 /Google search is your best defence against scammers.


    I was internet dating for about 6-7 years before I got married; I quickly ditched the UK sites as they were full of weirdos and people lying about their age/weight.

    I trawled foreign sites, including FSU sites (Former Soviet Union) , as my last real love was Czech; and eventually ended up on a Chinese website where I met my future wife.

    I wouldnt agree with the 10 emails suggestion, unless you live really close to each other and meeting is no big deal; I WOULD suggest video chatting, as you can learn more from a few minutes of that, than you can from weeks or months of emails.

    The above rules apply to all internet dating, regardless of age colour or creed; there are plenty of spammers out there targeting every possible age group and social situation.

    * I can post a website link with an example if wanted.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It all depends on what you want really.

    If you are into anything specific or unusual (my partner and I are; we are a pair of bi males so wanted a female playmate), there will be websites full of people to chat to (fetlife for example is an ok one) but really you're be better off going to real life events, mainly because you know that everyone there is real, more likely not to be insane and not a time waster. That said, my partner and I met our playmate on collarme (one of the spammiest, craziest sites around). That was after a good few years of looking for the right person and having lots of let-downs though. So persistence can pay off.

    On the other hand, if you are a young, single guy who wants a LTR then you'd have no trouble on something like OKCupid. Plus, the match process there is actually quite good.

    Where as you ladies - you really can take your pick because on any site there'll be hundreds of guys messaging. So for goodness sake - limit their number by explaining what you actually want on your profiles. Many guys will ignore it but we aren't all like that so write more than a couple of lines and be honest.

    Whoever you are - good luck and don't worry - you'll find someone eventually.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shag ratio

    Its the game to play.

    How many you get to shag per Internet introduction.

    Two week rule applies (no shag within 2 weeks ditch the bitch)

    Always call them not by their real name but a cuddly made up one you use for all of them (or you can get mixed up)

    Get a 20 quid PAYG phone from the supermarket, give her that number.

    I have a 1:5 ratio on and a 1:3 on morefish.

    And I am still playing the game!!!

    WHHHHUUUU HA HA HA HA HA HA (my evil laugh)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shag ratio

      All well and good if all you want is a fuck but I think that really this is more for those looking for long term.

      Plus, you seem to think that the game is something that women aren't aware of? Dude - they play it too. And I bet their ratios are much higher than yours.

      The problem with gamers is that it's all just bullshit to hide insecurity, leading to rubbish sex or empty short term relationships. If you want casual sex that's actually great then swinging's where it's at. No need for childish games.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Snail dating

    It all sounds rather like the snailmail Computer Dating of the early 1970s. A biq-ish questionnaire to fill in - from which the matching process only seemed to select male/female. The dates were either women who had applied as a uni prank several years earlier - or were looking for a specified man to marry after a previous jilting. The number of members who were men considerably outnumbered their pool of women.

    The 1970 "Carry on Loving" film probably captures the zeitgeist. I can never hear the sound of a zip without thinking of Terry Scott & Imogen Hassall.

    Working in various countries was good - local women you met who wanted someone "different". Being foreign conveys an automatic aura of mystery and exoticism anywhere. Didn't marry any of them - but they did give me a crop of "godchildren" (unrelated) to entertain on holidays in London. Good friendships that have lasted forty years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      AC @ 14:36 - Re: Snail dating

      Wrote :- "It all sounds rather like the snailmail Computer Dating of the early 1970s. A biq-ish questionnaire to fill in .."

      I was there. The one I joined simply sent out a monthly list of all members of the opposite sex, with the details they had given. There was no "matching process" in my one, you chose who you contacted. Much better. I found I got on best with girls who were not at all similar to me.

      "the matching process only seemed to select male/female"

      What were you expecting? The agencies you joined were presumably for heteros. Maybe there were others for gays, but I would not know. I understand that gays (male ones anyway) don't have much problem finding partners - as both parties are hunters. Whether they are the "right" partners is another matter, just as it is for heteros.

      "The dates were either women who had applied as a uni prank several years earlier - or were looking for a specified man to marry after a previous jilting. "

      Wow, that is some generalisation! I met a few dozen and there were all sorts, even dated one for a time who had been a Bunny Girl at the London Playboy Club - I told you they were not similar to me, but she was not as exciting as that might sound, although she had the right shape.

      "The number of members who were men considerably outnumbered their pool of women."

      Women over 50 outnumbered men over 50, and maybe overall, but under 30 the men outnumbered girls by maybe 3:1. I know, because a girl and I who met this way once compared her list of men (that she had been given) with my list of women. I also got a direct admission of this from one of the agency's administrators.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    " this now–happily married Reg hack thought it a good idea to take a look at the current state of play for internet daters"

    good excuse when wife caught you in the personal ads?

    Just researching an article darling

  35. Suburban Inmate

    I'm currently having fantastic success on a free site, they're really pretty girls and they message me first, which is kind of nice. All seem to be travelling or working around Africa, which is an odd coincidence, but stranger things have happened.

    Seriously though, it was in an IRC based free chat site (initially with a horrific java front end*) that I met my current lovely lady. I was a regular chatter, not looking for anything more than timewasting on the net, then when she joined up we noticed each other's twisted humour. I messaged her, apparently. It's not something I'd normally do, but a hearty imbibement of ale that night doubtless had something to do with it, hence the icon.

    My point is love happens just as easily when you're not even looking for it. She'd had nothing but fail with the dating-oriented sites. I fancied her before I even saw a pic, and yes it was a bloody big relief when I saw that she's quite pretty. I even have a pic of her bum as the wallpaper on my phone with pattern unlocking: I have to fondle it right to gain access!

    */me chokes a bit of vomit back down.

    1. GWT86
      Thumb Up

      I to found my partner on IRC, back in the early 2000s, I entered the chat with a horrible user name about David Bowie and yet he still chatted to me. Decided then he was a keeper!

  36. Senior Ugli

    The dating site of my time was Myspace - and it worked. Smiley faces and pic comments was all the girls needed

    1. Anonymous C0ward

      If you don't mind that they're 13.

  37. rcorrect

    If I spent 20 years dating online and still had no luck I probably wouldn't tell anyone let alone write an article about it. That said, happy hunting and may you have better luck this year. Have one on me. Cheers.

  38. GWT86

    Society can be slightly slow on the uptake at times.

    Met my husband online around 2003/2004, via an IRC chat room linked to a gaming webcomic. Due to distance we didn't actually meet up in person until 2006. It took another three or four years after that for friends/family to start meeting their other halves online (re: the Failbook) and for it to be acceptable in our community.

  39. Dropper


    I accidentally "met" my wife using ICQ (instant messenging app). I had recently moved to a new town and together with a group of friends, started using online chat sites for geeky stuff - usually to setup online gaming sessions with friends from work or to bitch about the work day. Some of my friends from my old neck of the woods joined and suggested we use instant messaging to keep trolls and other twats out of our chat rooms. I quickly got addicted, you could search for people to chat with from any country and usually find groups centered around any topic. I'd always wanted to take a trip to Canada or somewhere in the far north, so I fired off a few messages to some people on that side of the ocean. Only one person responded, a woman from Alaska, and after a few months of chatting about life in each country we handed over more personal information..our real names and addresses. A short time later phone numbers were exchanged and after a couple months I was invited out to Alaska for a visit. Long story short, we met and eventually got married.. lasted 11 years until she passed away in 2009. Pretty much as successful a story as you can find I think (apart from the dying part) but I doubt it could be repeated today without the help of a subscription site.

  40. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Yes, but...

    how many couples met in El Reg's comments section?

    1. rcorrect

      Re: Yes, but...

      >how many couples met in El Reg's comments section?

      Don't ask a question you don't want to know the answer to.

  41. Tikimon
    Thumb Up

    Great idea, with caveats for human nature

    Online dating is a great way to extend one's dating pool. Unfortunately, the same caveats apply as in real life.

    I found profiles often reflected not who the person is, but who they WISH they are like. Desired traits often didn't match the reality, such as the "tired of bad boys, want respect" woman who lost interest over my lack of tattoos, beard, or fast car. Also common was the profile with answers that went from paragraphs to a few words, then blanks as the profilee lost interest. I won't go into obvious LIARS, of which there were plenty.

    Finally, any new female profile was deluged with messages as soon as they signed up. If I got a mail in before her mailbox filled up, not much chance of standing out in 100 messages.

    Nevertheless, I had several dates with women I would otherwise have never met. It was a great addition to my bag of dating tricks. I was still at it when I met my wife on a paddle-camping trip for a local singles outdoor club.

  42. Andy 68
    Thumb Up

    Ahhh... CiX

    I met a few g/fs and my ex either on cix, or at cix parties, and know of quite a few marriages of cixen (some of whom haven't split up).

    Hopefully, with its new lease of life there'll be plenty more of that going on in the future...

    1. Charles Pearmain

      Re: Ahhh... CiX

      A new lease of life perhaps, but I reckon the average age of those of us still using CIX must be around 55-60.

      Expect the next CIXen wedding to feature the bride and groom being wheeled though an arch of Zimmer frames held aloft by inmates and their carers :o(

  43. veti Silver badge

    Things I learned in several years of 'net-driven dating

    ... before I met my spouse (on Usenet):

    1. If a service or site expects you to maintain something called a "profile", don't use it.

    1a. This rule goes double if the profile is supposed to contain a photo (of you. Photos taken *by* you are another matter.)

    1b. The reason behind this rule is: anything a person has deliberately and premeditatedly written about themself, in a profile, is 50% likely to be unadulterated bullshit, 45% likely to be just extremely misleading. (A small proportion are true, but mostly by accident.) If you want to know someone, read what they write *about everything else*, not about themselves.

    2. If a service or site advertises itself as helping you to find love, or a date, don't use it. You don't find love by looking for it, you find it by meeting people - of both genders - in a neutral environment.

    2a. Corrollary: if a service or site differentiates between users on the basis of gender, don't use it. You need friends of both genders. Without that, you have no way to calibrate your feelings when you do start to feel mushy.

    YMMV, IANAL etc.

    1. Nuke

      @veti - Re: Things I learned in several years of 'net-driven dating

      What a load of cobblers.

      Wrote : -" if a service or site differentiates between users on the basis of gender, don't use it. You need friends of both genders"

      I, and many people, have no problem meeting friends of the same sex. I don't want to pay for or spend time searching for more on line, and I don't want sex with them either.

      OTOH I and many people DO have a problem meeting people of the opposite sex, and ultimately it IS about having sex with them whether it is in a one-night stand, or after a fairytale Christian courtship followed by a life-long traditional marriage with children and grandchildren.

      ....and wrote :-"You don't find love by looking for it, you find it by meeting people - of both genders - in a neutral environment"

      Give us a clue what and where this "neutral environment" is, because I have never located it. An athletic club? - tried that, all men (but you don't mind that?) except for a few wives; a photographic club? - tried that, all old geezers and their wives; a public dance venue? - tried that, any girls I approached told me to f#@k off; "parties"? - what are they, never been invited to one in my life except family funeral wakes. So what then - a knitting circle?

      I don't doubt your word that you found love in a neutral environment, whatever that is, but please do not generalise that everyone else can - and must - do so.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: @veti - Things I learned in several years of 'net-driven dating

        Well, between 10 and 20 years ago the 'neutral environment' of choice (my choice, at least) was Usenet. More specifically,, though I hung about in a number of groups for a while.

        Now, probably any number of web forums devoted to topics that interest people of both sexes. There must be *something* you're interested in that's not an instant turnoff to all women, surely?

        The important point is that you don't go to these places just looking for love. If you do that, then you start viewing everyone through a weird filter that's not unlike having four pints of beer inside you, and your powers of discrimination start out about 60% below par. Instead, ou go to discuss something you enjoy, then to meet online 'friends' of all sorts.

        When I first 'met' my spouse, I didn't even know what gender they were. Username and postings gave no clue. They were just one among several dozen online friends I'd made at that point, when we started exchanging e-mails and getting more personal.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward & are a SCAM!

    There are numerous cases reported wyhere was found to be creating fake profiles. In addition and eHarmony have bucket-loads of angry reviews online, with people claming they’ve been ripped off, particularly regarding sneaky credit card billing i.e. over-extending membership and non-refunds of credit card fees. I've have stayed clear of both. There are plenty of free services, so why pay?

    1. Suburban Inmate

      Re: & are a SCAM!

      Throw zoosk in that pile too.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Russian grils are usually prettier - but Chinese girls make better wives.

    International dating is more fun, although a bit more risky as well; I had years of nice (and cheap), holidays before I finally met the woman of my dreams - in CHINA

    I just wish I had met her 20 years earlier.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something active

    I met my girlfriend online ~ 5 years ago, and one of the smarter things we did, was choosing something active to do on our first date. We ended up at a small(ish) nature park halfway between our 2 cities, and besides being public, it has a lot of animals and stuff to talk about. We both hated the idea of looking over our starters in a restaurant, with nothing to talk about for the following 2 courses. As it turned out, we spent the afternoon in the park, and went to dinner afterwards, because of the great "click" we had, and still have.

  47. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Online dating is way better than offline

    The selection of people is greater and crucially the ability to filter. I've had relationships develop in real life but it's a slow, unreliable process. This is especially the case if you have non negotiable requirements such as 'doesn't want kids'.

    it's all very well saying shared interest groups are a better idea - and generally I agree - but the logical conclusion is joining a group or going to a club you don't actually want to just to find a date. If you're a man that fancies women, go join a dance class. the question is : do you actually want to join a dance class?

    Even if you find an activity with plenty of women they have to be available, in a sensible age range and you need to fancy each other. Friendships are good though.

    dating site's Achilles heel is relationship fixation; not that I'm great at them but I don't consider 'we will have a relationship' as a healthy starting point - better to establish mutual interest/attraction and have it develop.

    I've had good results through OKCupid and some through plentyoffish (that's a crapshoot - so many awful profiles). I would agree with a friend that said 'generally the women on okc have coloured hair, whilst the ones on pof have orange skin'. fortunately there are exceptions.

  48. jonfr

    Dating site are failure

    I am now off OkCupid. It doesn't work for me. Since I am connected to reality or something of that nature. Whatever the case. But as for dating sites in general. I am going to stay off them forever. I rather move to some big city and take my risk.

    I have tested sending messages. Just simple hi and such. But I also tested the more complex boring version (I had to test both). Both have same result. That is in most cases there is no replay what so ever.

    You know why this is. Here is the reason in part or whole. I am not sure what is the exact case now. I am still checking up on it. (How TV Ruined Your Life - s01e04 - Love)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dating site are failure

      Charlie Brooker is in a class all to himself. His school of sarcasm is half-rant half-genius and frequently hilarious. His delivery is so fast you can easily miss the many great one-liners :-

      Cilla Black's Blind Date (UK game show) - (About the contestants):

      "like the world's 3 dimmest parrots.... with all the charisma of The Bhopal disaster"

      ....the faces men make during sex:

      ..."like playing keyboards for Depeche Mode.."

      "a mouth is":

      .... an under-whelming content delivery system..."

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