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They believe it's a problem inherent to the process. The vernacular of online dating makes everyone sound the same. " Searching for a partner online has inevitable similarities to searching for a product.
So if you're doing it, and you're feeling down, don't worry. Rather than reflecting what we're like, it reflects what we think other people want – because we're trying to appeal to as many people as possible. Computer algorithms have the herculean task of returning a perfect match from its database based on our own vaguely truthful submissions, and such copper-bottomed compatibility guarantees as whether both parties are fond of cats.
Those 58,500 lucky members of were vastly outnumbered by the 286,000 unlucky ones.
Yes, anecdotes of hair-raising internet dates have become dinner-party staples – you know, like "he turned up wearing a toolbelt and immediately burst into tears" – and many were collected in a book published earlier this year. The plunge in self-esteem when your ideal partner remains as elusive as a taxi on New Year's Eve?
Internet dating is meant to tip those odds in our favour – and it can work, of course it can.
But the people I've spoken to who've been bruised by it are unanimous as to why that happened. Adam: "It's blackly comic: we all say we're fun-loving, up for a laugh, just seeing how things go – when everyone knows that we're all on a dating site because, to varying extents, we're lonely." Internet dating pivots around profiles; lists of attributes, paragraphs where you attempt to make yourself sound appealing, a handful of flattering photographs. Dozens of books and websites offer advice on how to write profiles; third-party services even charge 40 quid to save you the bother. Everyone loves travelling, particularly to Machu Picchu – which, if the profiles are to be believed, is an Inca site swarming with thousands of backpacking singletons. All of us love to curl up on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a DVD (or a VD, as one unfortunately misspelled profile said).
It doesn't approach the horror of being told by a partner that they don't love you any more.I went out with a wonderful woman for seven years who loved Barbra Streisand. In a relationship these kind of things aren't an issue, but internet dating makes them into one.After all, when I meet someone in real life that I like, I tend not to say, "Hi, I'm Rhodri, and here's a list of food I don't like eating." The rules of attraction are just too complex to be held in a database and analysed by a computer.But despite our inclination to present ourselves as optimistic – verging on an almost deranged bubbliness, in some cases – we enter the process on the back foot. It's just that thin skin isn't compatible with internet dating.We're not part of a couple, and we may have hang-ups about our attractiveness. Francesca: "It's also a horrible feeling knowing that there are potentially a lot of other people in competition with you.
"Plenty more fish in the sea" isn't just a well-meaning phrase uttered by a kindly relative after you've been dumped. I'm kind of glumly staring at you, which may be one of the reasons why I haven't done so well.) Long-term internet dating participants know only too well, however, the cycle of knock-back followed by a speedy return to the site in search of someone else.