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But what about members of the younger generation, people who seem to have greater opportunity (and more time) to come across lovers organically? Helen Paul, a 26-year-old who took the plunge mainly for a giggle and to combat growing “boredom with life in general”, admits that, despite the assumption that under 30s have no problem meeting new potential partners, online dating did, in fact, help her to meet people she would never have otherwise crossed paths with.Though, that’s where her positive take on the platform seems to begin and end.
While no comprehensive study’s been conducted locally since Ramon Thomas, a Netucation online behaviour expert, collected data from nine different digital dating sites in 2004, a present-day look at the largest and most expansive online dating company’s database indicates that, at the very least, the virtual platform’s growth is ‘going steady’.
According to David Burstein, COO of The Dating Lab, a business that comfortably commands a fleet of some of the country’s most well-known sites, his database alone counts between 800,000 and 900,000 people (that means roughly 10% of South African Internet users have delved into digital dating).
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In all seriousness though, since its advent, online dating’s most noteworthy success has been its ability to provide greater access to a larger and more eclectic pool of partners.
In other words, add up all the wayward suitors you’d maybe meet through friends and family, in a bar, in the aisles of a supermarket, atop the pews at church or on the cycle at gym, and you still can’t hold a candle to the seemingly endless (and ever-increasing) supply of profiles online.
Strike one: she reports that her online dating site’s compatibility quizzes seemed “off”; she was found time and again to be most compatible with 59-year-olds from Durbanville, not exactly flattering for a young city centre draughtswoman and 3D visualizer working at cutting-edge furniture design company Pierre Cronje.
Strike two: her fleeting liaison with what she describes as, “a person who turned out to be a ‘man-child’.” As she puts it, “He did NOT turn out to be the person I expected, which is the big thing about online dating.
As David explains, larger numbers of older individuals are turning to the computer for help hyperlinking the heartstrings to solve an all too familiar mystery: Where do you meet people?