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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April 2005, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Finding love in cyberspace
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Can you find true love in cyberspace?

A psychologist at Queen's University in Belfast says internet dating can offer romance with that 21st century twist.

Dr Monica Whitty's research has revealed that, in contrast to early negative views of online dating, for many people, love may be just a mouse click away.

But the findings suggest that the key to finding true love on the net is, above all, honesty.

If you want to find that special someone, then write an honest profile of yourself, Dr Whitty said.

"What I found is that the women tend to exaggerate about their weight, and perhaps bring it down a little bit," she said.

"Men exaggerate about their height and perhaps also about their socio-economic status."

In online dating, the profile is everything. So getting the detail right really counts. This is not about long online chats. People who 'click' in terms of profile, meet face to face very quickly.

People are sick of using the bars and club scene - in many ways, this is much safer to use
Dr Monica Whitty
Queen's University Belfast

So lies about height, weight and profession rapidly find the liars out.

"Some of the women I interviewed were very particular about people's profiles," Dr Whitty explained.

"One woman said: 'All this sipping red wine, going for walks on the beach, sitting by the fire stuff ... if so many people love doing that, how come we don't all bump into each other?'"

The psychologist carried our her research with Australian participants. But she said online dating seemed most popular with Americans.

"Americans are more open to this than Australians or those living in the UK," she said.

"They are lapping it up. Perhaps they are more extrovert and the idea of exposing themselves is not so frightening for them."

Dr Whitty said that as people become more aware of online dating, then, she believed it would become more popular.

Safer option?

"People are sick of using the bars and club scene. In many ways, this is much safer to use. In a bar, you are drinking and your defences are down.

"Online daters usually meet in a coffee shop or some kind of public space.

"But there is also room for disappointment in what, at times, can seem like 'shopping for love'. You pay to use an online dating service, you 'shop' for the profile of your perfect mate and sometimes, it just doesn't work out."

Dr Whitty is delivering a paper: Searching for Love on the Net during the annual British Psychological Society conference on Friday 1 April.

Her book, co-written with Adrian Carr, is called Human Relationships in Cyberspace and is to be published by Palgrave later this year.

Online dating 'good for romance'
14 Feb 05 |  Education

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