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The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"They are disappointed if they find their e-mail box empty"
 real 28k

Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
Women 'find lovers online'
Woman using the net
More fears about buying online than meeting potential lovers, says survey
One in 10 women who use the internet at work say they have found a lover by first meeting men online, a survey by a UK website suggests.

Some workers first meet total strangers in chat rooms, others eye up new colleagues at work and strike up a relationship by e-mail.

Women are natural communicators and see the internet as a new toy

New Woman Online
Nearly one quarter of the 2,000 secretaries, executives and students questioned on the web site had formed a "romantic friendship" over the internet.

It is believed many young workers, whose private lives have been squeezed out by longer hours in the office, have been forced to seek romance at their computer terminal.

Romantic antics

The women surveyed, who had an average age of 27, would typically devote around 90 minutes a day chatting online to their web suitors at work.

Most of them eventually meet up with the men in real life, with Londoners being the most likely to have sex with their "internet lovers".

One in three said they used the web to organise their social lives.

The survey was created by asking surfers aged 18-40 to fill in a questionnaire posted on 10 of publisher Emap's websites.

Half the women also said their time at home was being compromised by having to do extra work online at evenings or weekends.

'Web romance explosion'

Newwomanonline spokeswoman Carmel Hayes explained the explosion in romance over the net, which, she said, helped Britain's five million female users to boost their social lives.

She said: "It takes a lot of the fear of rejection out of meeting people. It's just a great way of building up a relationship and finding out if you've got anything in common with someone.

Tapping into the net
Love at their fingertips: Have e-mails have replaced love letters?
"Women are natural communicators and see the internet as a new toy. It's an intimate way of communicating. They print out these e-mails and re-read them again and again.

She suggested the latest web trend was like "a return to the days of couples writing love letters to each other."

But Mrs Hayes warned women to meet web dates in public and with friends to avoid perverts.

She has spoken to victims of stalkers and phone pests who have given out their phone numbers and personal details over the internet.

Mrs Hayes said: "The safety aspect is frightening.

"They just need to be sensible. But the girls I spoke to were more frightened of buying online than picking up blokes."

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