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Others employ dozens of scientists to create sophisticated, top-secret algorithms to match customers with similar personality traits (as opposed to shared interests, which are a far less significant predictor of compatibility), ignoring the adage “opposites attract”. “One suspects a lot of their claims are hype,” says Professor Dunbar.
“Do they really know what the criteria are that make a successful long-term relationship, when it’s not something that the scientists still know that much about?
Anna Wilkinson has been married for seven years, has two young children, and – although exhausted – is delighted with her lot.
“I was 33, had just broken up with my boyfriend and was beginning to think I’d never have a family life.
But can something as nebulous as everlasting love really be found via a computer chip?
Yes, according to psychologists at Chicago University who last week reported that marriages that begin online – whether on an online dating site or via social networking sites like Facebook – stood a greater chance of success than those that began in the “real world”.
The result is that, rather than being someone that defies all calculation, love is now big business worth an annual billion internationally and growing at 70 per cent a year – with high-tech venture capitalists, psychologists and software engineers reaping vast rewards.
Academics, meanwhile, are fascinated by the data being gathered — and largely kept secret — by the dating industry.
But since 1995 when the first online dating site was launched, the tables have completely turned.But other sites, which can cost up to £3,000 a year to join, offer their clients a bespoke selection of potential partners to share your love of sushi, dachshunds or The Apprentice.There are dedicated websites for every religion, for the unhappily married, for the beautiful – where existing members decide if you merit joining their ranks – the overweight, Oxbridge graduates, country lovers – not to mention Telegraph readers (dating.uk). Using slogans such as “love is no coincidence” they test samples of your saliva in order to make the best DNA match for you – claiming that these couples are more likely to have enduring relationships, satisfying sex lives and higher fertility rates.There was also the fact that dating sites were more likely “attract people who are serious about getting married.” Paula Hall, a counsellor for Relate, agrees that the main advantage of online dating is that “couples are more likely to be on a level playing field and share the same agenda.“Any relationship that forms is more likely to be based on a shared value system, the same interests, the same legwork as opposed to a relationship based on chemistry alone, which, as we all know, is the quality that tends to fade first in a relationship.” The cheapest dating sites offer a smorgasbord for customers to browse, with thousands of men and women claiming a GSOH and posting out-of-date photos.