Old order changeth, yielding place to new.... The search for a companion, friend, partner, or a 'date' to spice up one's life is not a new phenomenon; yet, the modus operandi seems to have undergone a revolution. Not too long ago, relationships began in restaurants, in church gatherings, or during social get-togethers, where the chemistry between two people formed the beginning of an equation. Locked gazes turned into loving exchanges, leading to clandestine meetings to discover the potential of the relationship. Today, the networking generation gazes into the resplendent computer screen to connect to the happening world of the World Wide Web, waiting for that precious life-altering Click. Click- Connect-Engage seems to be the order of the day!
Internet has undoubtedly transformed the world by seamlessly shrinking geographical distances and bringing people closer. The penetration of the internet is so profound, that people enjoy the 'best of both worlds' - the virtual and the actual, to such an extent, that life appears quite dull, boring and unimaginable without the INTERNET.
Caught in the inescapable clutch of the internet, the manner of dating and friendship has undergone a sea change. Many dating and social networking websites have grown to cash in on this trend, raking in the spoils of what is now a multibillion dollar industry.
Finding a mate online has never been so easy. A plethora of options present themselves in the form of intricately designed websites, which offer a range of services to pander to varied preferences. With millions of profiles to choose from, users are simply spoilt for choice. Indeed, it is an invitation into the world of fantasy, which many find hard to resist.
Looking for a prospective date, or singles, on the internet could well begin by posting online personal advertisements or the profile on dating websites. With no holds barred on creativity, players can ask what they want, allowing imagination to run amok. The response may be sooner or later, with the opportunity to proceed to the next step. The floor is now open for chats, voice chats, text messages, video chats, et al. To what extent the relationship proceeds, is completely dependent upon the interest level of those involved. Casting the 'net' far and wide ....
According to the US Census, 40% of American adults patronize the services of online dating sites resulting in about 120,000 marriages annually. Nearly 48% of online daters happen to be men.
In India, 51% of urban Indians patronize dating websites, while 48% use matrimonial sites to find their life partner.
In Canada, 1.1 to 1.2 million people patronize the services of online dating websites.
Nearly 38.2 million European internet users visit online personal sites in a month. 50% of Europeans date online and this may translate into an exponential growth for the European web dating market, slated to grow by 30% this year.
China too expects dating patrons to grow in huge numbers. With 64 million singles residing in the nation, the market is expected to double in the present year. Netting a Date - Twist to the Tale
As the growing numbers fall in love with internet dating, there are as many who fall easily into craftily laid out traps by scammers, working overtime to throw a spanner in the works. There are thousands of people every year who lose money, reputation and suffer broken relationships after being lured by cheats on the internet.
Consters don't waste a minute to hoodwink naοve players seeking online friendships, of course only after winning their trust and confidence. Many people have fallen prey to demands for air tickets, emergency cash, or have completely believed the masked expressions of love professed by their online buddies. The con game is so deep that men use women to impersonate, to show interest till one gets carried away, with a lucid game plan laid out... It is easy to let go till the carpet gets pulled under the feet.
It would need a discerning eye, and an alert mind to read between the lines of well worded e-mails, to make out fake photographs from genuine ones, and to be smart about protecting one's identity. The word clearly is CAUTION. Screen and Weed Out
Be wary of those who request detailed information, yet do not reveal too much about themselves.
Always trust gut feeling.
Maintain privacy and protect identity.
Safe to communicate with a local friend than overseas contacts.
Dating websites are safe for communication. Avoid email communication right at the beginning of the relationship.
Watch out for inconsistencies in communication, change of tone, style and language.
Though seeing is believing, fake photographs abound. What you see may not be reality. Fishy Love
Most of the virtual relationships are based on fantasy. While there are a few serious seekers out there, the majority are out to live their fantasies in the virtual world. According to leading online dating statistics, online relationships are more intimate than offline ones. Women portray a greater inclination to find love online- 72% of women confessed to an online romance as against 52% men. Virtual Infidelity - Is Internet Rocking Marriage Vows?
The internet is blamed for relationship break-ups, as online affairs and internet flirting is considered as infidelity. To the extent, internet dating has cut short the lifetime value of marriage vows.
Most people are of the opinion that affairs over the internet amount to cheating and is detrimental to relationships. A survey undertaken by 245 students in Britain has revealed the overriding opinion that flirting over the internet is tantamount to infidelity. It is also a sign of trouble brewing in a marriage, according to marriage and relationship experts.
According to Chief Executive Angela Sibson, of the UK marriage guidance service, one among ten suffering relationship discord blamed the Net. Explaining the reason for this, she said, "People are spending too much time on the internet and that is time they are not giving to their partner. The internet is a gateway to other relationships. They can be very potent and break up existing relationships."
Online relationships are fun and easy, one doesn't need to step out of the room to find love. Further, online relationships come with no responsibility, which many find extremely alluring. Sexual Thrills and Spills - Cyber Sex
A US study found hordes of married patrons logging into chat rooms under deceptively catchy names for erotic encounters and thrills.
Explaining the impact of the internet boom and chat room escapades, Beatriz Mileham, from the University of Florida, said, "The internet will soon become the most common form of infidelity, if it isn't already. Never before has the dating world been so handy for married men and women looking for a fling. With cyber sex, there is no longer any need for secret trips to obscure motels. An online liaison may even take place in the same room with one's spouse."
A disappointing foreboding of this trend is that most spouses involved in Net-flings felt nothing wrong about online relationships, though partners confessed to feeling cheated, leaving an emotional scar on the relationship. Chat Room -Room for Marital Spats
Why do people go to chat rooms? Most of them crave for fun, excitement and a break from boredom. Chat room offered all of this on a platter combined with choice, comfort and convenience.
The leading cause of breakdown of real relationships is chat room chats, a counseling group in the US has found. Though players confessed to love their spouse or partner, the thought of sexual thrills in perfect anonymity was hard to resist. One player confessed, "All I have to do is turn on my computer and I have thousands of women to choose from. It can't get any easier than that."
The serious part, which can potentially wreck real relationships, is the strong likelihood of chat room friendly encounters becoming serious ones- according to data, one third of people carried the amorous relationship into their real lives.
Giving a clue, Al Cooper, author of the book, Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians, said, "We are hearing from therapists around the country reporting online sexual activity to be a major cause of marital problems. We need to better understand the contributing factors if we are going to be able to warn people about the slippery slope that starts with online flirting and too often ends in divorce." Bottom line
Indeed, there are all sorts that make the virtual world. As internet dating booms, people will find themselves increasingly vulnerable to scams in the name of love and friendship.
Yet, whatever one might say, internet dating is here to stay - for the dull and the delirious, the young and the old, for the married and the single, and all types and during all seasons. Internet dating may just be what Cupid ordered in the age of the Internet!