Six months ago an old school friend and I were chatting over coffee, putting the world to rights as women do. She was bemoaning her lack of success in meeting the "right sort" of men. I asked her if she had tried using an internet dating service, and the look of horror that quickly appeared on her face gave the instant answer - of course not! Internet dating, she informed me, was for the sad, desperate, geeky or freaky.
Sadly this type of response is typical of people from all walks of life. Why sadly? Because those who instantly dismiss such services are missing out on a great opportunity.
The traditional argument for not using the internet to meet someone is that it is not natural. So what is natural? Where have people traditionally met their husbands, wives, lovers, and friends? Statistically, over the past 50 years the most common place for meeting ones spouse has been the workplace. This is hardly surprising given the ever increasing amounts of time most people are finding themselves working. Other common meeting places include bars, nightclubs, and parties, and some lucky few meet their lifetime partner early in life at college or university. However, the workplace remains number one for long term relationships. The reason for this is simple; lasting long term relationships are usually born out of robust friendships, and strong friendships form over time. Spend eight hours a day five days a week with the same people and you will get to know them very well. It is not uncommon in the modern world to spend more time with your colleagues than with your family, an unfortunate but true fact of life.
The increasing amounts of time we as a society are spending working is leaving less time to spend in social environments outside of the office, which means less opportunity to meet new people. So if you don't meet someone at work, where else is there? Enter the dating agency.
Dating agencies are not a new idea, they have been around a very long time. The internet has simply served as a new medium for bringing people together in a tried and tested way that agencies have used for years. However, it offers some unique advantages for those seeking a partner. Firstly it has lowered the cost of running a dating service, and that means agency dating has been opened up to a much wider audience. Secondly, it has broken down geographical barriers in a way that off-line agencies could never hope to. This is an important point because not everyone is looking for their future husband or wife on their doorstep. Indeed not everyone is looking for a future husband or wife; the explosion in internet dating has made it easier than ever to find new friends and correspondents across the globe.
These two points mean that some of the bigger agency sites now have in excess of three million members, and literally thousands of new members joining every day. With that many people, if you are serious about finding a partner, lover, or a friend, then the internet is simply too big a resource to ignore. And 'net dating is safe too; there is no need to exchange real names or even email addresses until you feel you know someone well enough. All the services allow you to block unwanted communication and so there is no fear of being pestered. Used sensibly, internet dating can be safer than almost any other way of meeting people.
The internet has revolutionised the way we work, shop, conduct our financial affairs, and entertain ourselves. To use it as a medium for meeting new people is a logical step in our fast changing world.
After that chat six months ago I convinced my friend to post a profile on a dating site, she didn't even have to pay anything to do so unless she wanted to start sending messages to other people. Now I never see her because she is spending all of her time with her new man. She didn't find him in five minutes like some of the sales pitches would like you to believe, but then six months ago she didn't expect to find him at all.