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Dating love stories

Just over a third had met their spouse online – and their marriages were 25 per cent more likely to last than those of couples who’d met via traditional routes – in a bar, at work, or via family and friends.

Moreover, couples who’d first met face-to-face reported slightly less satisfaction with their relationships than their online counterparts.

Matchmakers were viewed as hook-nosed crones from Fiddler on the Roof or pushy Mrs Bennet at the Pemberley ball.

Yes, according to psychologists at Chicago University who last week reported that marriages that begin online – whether on an online dating site or via social networking sites like Facebook – stood a greater chance of success than those that began in the “real world”.

The researchers interviewed 20,000 people who had married between 20.

“Although I felt a bit of a loser, I joined an online dating agency.

I filled forms about my interests, my opinions and my personal goals – which was having a family – something I’d been too frightened to mention to my exes in the early days for fear of scaring them off.

There are dedicated websites for every religion, for the unhappily married, for the beautiful – where existing members decide if you merit joining their ranks – the overweight, Oxbridge graduates, country lovers – not to mention Telegraph readers (dating.uk). Using slogans such as “love is no coincidence” they test samples of your saliva in order to make the best DNA match for you – claiming that these couples are more likely to have enduring relationships, satisfying sex lives and higher fertility rates.

Others employ dozens of scientists to create sophisticated, top-secret algorithms to match customers with similar personality traits (as opposed to shared interests, which are a far less significant predictor of compatibility), ignoring the adage “opposites attract”. “One suspects a lot of their claims are hype,” says Professor Dunbar.“They have a huge database and they also can follow couples’ stories through, which hasn’t been possible so far.” For most of history, using a third party to help you find love was the norm.But in the 20th century this all changed, with young people deciding they wanted to be in charge of their own domestic destinies.Scarred by their parents’ (or their own) divorces, this generation approaches affairs of the heart with the same pragmatism as it might buying a car or booking a holiday.But can something as nebulous as everlasting love really be found via a computer chip?“I was 33, had just broken up with my boyfriend and was beginning to think I’d never have a family life.I’d always been attracted to mavericks, handsome men, who – after a year or so – made it clear they had no intention of settling down.My message is no one is perfect so this is a futile endeavour.“A secondary problem to this is feeling you don’t match up to your competition because the longer you spend on sites, the more you realise you’re up against vast numbers of singles.“But the men I was introduced to were told what I wanted and shared those dreams. From the off we were on the same page and then it was only a matter of finding someone I also found physically attractive and that was Mark, the third man I met.” Wilkinson is far from alone.One in five relationships in the UK starts online, according to recent surveys, and almost half of all British singles have searched for love on the internet.

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