Online dating, a very modern matchmaker..

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Online dating, a very modern matchmaker..

Post  Mavi on Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:46 am

Online romances used to conjure up the image of sad types huddled over their keyboards creating buff alter egos with which to woo a potential mate. Now, in this age of social networking, online dating has lost some of its stigma, leading more than 22 million people to visit dating websites in 2007, according to the internet monitoring firm comScore. 'I think the internet gave us a way to find each other. The rest was down to us': Cate Sevilla and Iain Buchanan, A whole host of web companies are embracing the digital revolution to provide new, and frequently interactive, ways of meeting someone.

Match.com, for example, has sought to capitalise on the popularity of Facebook by launching a "Little Black Book" application that Facebook users can load on to their profile to connect with potential matches, and also to share them with their friends. The US is, inevitably, leaps and bounds ahead of us.

There, sites such as WooMe, HurryDate and 15MinuteDate offer users the chance to talk to potential suitors via webcams, in a high-tech version of speed dating. Another company, Ice Brkr, allows people to download a text-message-based dating application to their mobile phone. The internet has introduced and reconnected many couples, who might never have been together were it not for its plethora of networking sites and dating portals.

When salesman Tom Harwood and personal assistant Nicole Blouet, both 28 and from Rochester, split up after several months of dating as teenagers, they never thought they would see each again. Tom went off to travel the world, they moved in different circles, and for 10 years they never set eyes on each other. advertisement"We went out with each other at school for about 10 months, but after GCSEs we went our separate ways," says Nicole. Then, by chance, she spotted a picture of Tom's sister while browsing on a friend's Facebook page. "After I saw Tom's sister Kyra on Facebook, I emailed to say hello and hope Tom's well. I didn't expect a reply, but she emailed me back, then Tom emailed me, so we started chatting on email. We didn't know what each other had done with our lives, as we had taken completely different paths. I was quite happily single and the last thing I expected was to see Tom again." "We only emailed for a week, then I asked her out," says Tom. Cut to four months later and they are moving in together. Would they have met again had it not been for Facebook? "Probably not," says Nicole. "We didn't socialise in the same circles. We didn't go to the same places, even though we lived near each other. I would definitely have spoken to him if I'd seen him, but email made it easier. I haven't been this happy in a long time." Tom proposed to Nicole at Christmas, and they plan to get married later this year. While the web can serve as a way to find a person, even unintentionally, after several years of no contact, it can also bring people together who not only have never met but don't even live on the same continent.


For Sacramento-born web editor Cate Sevilla, 22, and web developer Iain Buchanan, 28, from London, without the internet it is unlikely that they would ever have met at all. But thanks to their personal pages on MySpace, they did. "I was browsing and came across Iain's profile and read his 'About Me'. I thought he sounded like me," says Cate, "plus he was really cute. I had never randomly met people online before but emailed him anyway, while wondering if I was being a bit weird. We started emailing once a week, then twice, then every day, but still as friends. I just wanted to talk to him. Then we started doing personal emails, then moved on to instant messaging and talking on the phone." The internet played a major role in the early stages of their relationship, with Iain likening it to a blind date. As Cate had initiated the relationship, Iain does recall thinking: "Why does that pretty girl want to talk to me? What does she want?" He replied anyway. "About a month later, we both knew we liked the other person as more than friends, but we weren't sure if the other felt the same way." Cate agrees. "We realised there were romantic feelings there. Even though it was online, it was kind of old-fashioned, like writing letters and having a pen-pal. It meant we could cut through all the dating rubbish - you don't have to play coy or hard to get, or care what you look like when you're pouring your heart out."

Three months after their first email, Cate and Iain met in person. Three months after that, Cate packed her bags and moved to London. Less than a year later, in January 2007, they married. "If we hadn't met online, I don't think we would have ever met. I would never have gone up to him in a bar and he would never have approached me either." One thing Cate points out emphatically is that they were both open and honest from the start. "He knew more about me than anyone in the world by the time we met face to face," she says. "I think the internet gave us a way to find each other, but the rest of it was down to us. It just played matchmaker. It was down to the two of us to make it work, to make smart decisions and be honest.

We could tell each other things without being nervous." There are, of course, widely publicised downsides to meeting people online and the safety aspect is an important consideration.


Using the net as a matchmaker isn't a new phenomenon, but in today's world where so many people find it hard to meet, any tool that could bring you closer to the person who might turn out to be the love of your life is a medium worth investigating.

article from The Times Online
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