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21-Oct-2016 19:22

In a study presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting in August, Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University and Reuben Thomas of the City College of New York reviewed data from a survey of more than 3,000 Americans with romantic partners.They concluded that among heterosexual couples who met in 2009, the internet had become the third most common way of making initial contact—behind introductions from friends, but almost on a par with encounters in bars and restaurants.Vampire lovers can sink their teeth into the profiles on offer at Vampire Passions, while those obsessed with i Pads and i Phones can hunt for their i Beloveds at Cupidtino, a dating site for fans of Apple's products.The rise of these and other dating sites has been driven by several trends in society.Yet while looking for love online is no longer seen as an act of desperation, the digital-dating industry still generates plenty of controversy.

Searching for that special someone In addition to broad-based matchmaking sites such as Match and Zoosk, the online-dating world has also spawned thousands of niche ones.A megabit on the side Then there is the fuss over sites such as Illicit Encounters and Ashley Madison, which have sparked an outcry by matching people seeking partners for extramarital affairs.Outraged critics claim such services deliberately promote infidelity to further their commercial ambitions.“The period between New Year's Day and Valentine's Day is our busiest six weeks of the year,” explains Sam Yagan, the boss of Ok Cupid, a big American dating site.

Once seen as the last resort for a bunch of lonely geeks, online-dating services have gradually shed much of the stigma formerly associated with them.In America Ashley Madison, which claims to have 8.3m registered members in nine countries, has been decried as “a business built on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages and damaged families”.