Donal Lynch: Finding love online is fast becoming the new normal
As we become more independent, we turn from family to the web to help us find a date.
'I believe in online dating", wrote the American memoirist Augusten Burroughs. "And you need belief; an online dating profile is like a cross between a prayer and a letter to Santa."
Burroughs wrote those words in 2003 and in the 10 years since then the online dating market has exploded. In the US, the internet is now the second most common way of meeting a partner – after meeting through friends – and in Ireland thousands of people have widened their search to include the web. The results have been mixed; from acrimony to matrimony the internet has thrown up love and horror. Last summer it was reported that a Belfast woman was planning to marry a man from Oklahoma whom she had never met in person.
There have been thousands of tales of success and frustration. Just as television allowed us to bring people we would never allow in our homes into our living rooms, so the internet has enabled us to leap over the historical obstacles to dating (geography, time, your father or mother perched in the hallway with a shotgun across the lap and a look that says 'no one is good enough for my child').