Online dating has had a tough year in 2013.

It started with the Financial Times blog highlighting, bad practices and teams of employees of the big dating companies targeting new joiners, with one objective in mind – relieving them of their cash and more recently the BBC’s Panorama put together a very hard hitting documentary to highlight the perils of online dating, called ‘Tainted Love’ that built on this, highlighting fake profiles running into millions, photographs being imported from Spain to support the fictitious profiles, people’s highly personal and private data being bought and sold between companies, not a good scenario at all.

There has also been lots of violence during the year featuring couples who met via online dating, with cases having been highlighted in much of the national press and fraud involving online dating has grown to record levels. So the question has to be asked, has the online dating bubble burst and perhaps more importantly, how do people now feel about it?

The numbers who are looking for love in the UK currently means dating is big business. While the divorce rate is falling, it remains very high. In 2009, the last year for which reliable information is available, there were 126,496 divorces. The average age of divorce is now 44.0 for men and 41.5 for women.  This group is willing to spend money on finding love. Research found the average online dater belongs to three sites and spends an average of £239 per year for online subscriptions, so it’s big business and has grown at a phenomenal rate since the late 1990’s.

Recently over 40 people were interviewed, who were so typical of this age group and had decided to find love either through a dating agency or online dating.  The women were much more selective and hard to please about what they wanted from a man.  Those interviewed, were mostly professional, all were said to be solvent, all had children and were aged between 38-55 years. Although there has been a trend for older people the ‘Silver Surfers’ to test out dating in recent years and the market has been swelled by many over 55’s and 60’s. 

The interviews concluded that there was certainly no stigma attached to dating in the new millennium and that easy access to online dating opportunities had almost entirely eradicated this and those that were ready for dating did so with lots of zest, determination and a very open minded attitude. However, it is not all joy as there are the gold-diggers of both sexes; the would-be immigrants looking for a passport and money and those that are just plain weird in some people’s eyes.

And ladies, if you are in your late 40’s or 50’s then be prepared for the men of the same age to be looking for women at least 10 years younger. Which might seem amusing as some may say they they are looking for a nurse for their old age, although I’m sure that the men would deny that – they also certainly do not want children if at all possible – but have this belief that a younger woman is more attractive. This can be rather depressing for those who come into that category and the result of this is that the women are now lying about their ages and having all sorts of cosmetic treatments to hold the years at bay if they can.

The interviews also revealed that the websites offering ‘scientific’ or ‘psychmetric’ matching services where you spend hours poring over and answering personality trait questions are often wildly inaccurate, as it is not possible to match to this extent, without a personal interview and usually the involvement with a Personal Matchmaker – which is usually a service only offered by a professional Personal Introductions Agency. Which is something that seems to now be surging forward in popularity, as experience in this ‘dating jungle’ can be so valuable.

So the conclusion is that there is a brave new world out there for the divorced or those who have chosen to remain single but you need to be very open minded and prepared for all eventualities and ready emotionally too. If it’s online dating that you choose, it can be good value, and as long as you do not mind spending hours on the internet sifting through potentials, but be cautious about who you are meeting and be aware of the problems highlighted above.  A sense of humour is a huge advantage and can protect you against untold perils if you can shrug them off. The alternative is a professional Personal Matchmaking service, which if taken over the lifetime of the membership period offered, can also prove to be good value too.

After all – this is your potential life partner you are investing in and that shouldn’t be done on the cheap!!