New research shows that internet dating is now a standard way to meet a partner. Andrew and Lucy Billen explain how it worked for them Andrew’s story What with stalking and trolling, fraud and porn, the internet is getting bad press right now.
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It will, doubtless, be punctured by Lucy pointing out that sometime between posting my picture online and our date, my hair had turned grey, but that is marriage for you. I was more embarrassed about being single in my forties and not wanting to be.
Before I met her, I had probably told only a couple of people I had been, rather lackadaisically, trying internet dating. I had always had many women friends, and sometimes wanted to take those friendships upstairs, but I rarely sealed the deal.
Did I have dates with women or nice nights out with them?
Were they there because they fancied the theatre or me?
As for hunting for love, I had never liked parties, hated clubs and found the idea of chatting someone up in a bar both absurd and full of peril.
Deep down I hoped I would find the love of my life without even looking for her and in a blinding instant.
I must have seen Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade at an impressionable age, for my model for an ideal encounter would be beneath a shop awning in a rainstorm: “So I’ll be the fella, that fella with an umbrella, If you’ll be the girl who saved her love for a rainy day.” After an unsuccessful relationship ended stormily in my early forties, I began to think the right sort of precipitation needed, as it were, to be precipitated.
If the heavens had failed to find me a mate so too had the workplace. I was rarely seated next to eligible women at dinner parties. Its great advantage is not the algorithms that match you to your ideal mate, it is that the net the internet casts is so wide (25 million users around the world in April 2011 alone, according to one estimate).
The psychologists at the University of Rochester in the United States, as far as I am concerned, got it dead right this week when their study revealed that internet dating had lost its stigma, gone mainstream: society’s methods of forming relationships are grossly inefficient, and, look, I was a busy man. Lucy and I both lived in London and we were both journalists.
Internet dating, I reasoned, was not artificial insemination. But try as we might, we could not find a single friend we had in common or an event we had both attended.
Yet when we met, we talked and laughed for eight hours.