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It’s all on­line: meet, date, have cy­ber sex, marry, get an e-di­vorce and get break-up coun­selling — all at the touch of a but­ton. TR­ISH BEAVER re­ports

Weekend Witness - - News -

SINCE 2007, most peo­ple who have mar­ried in the United States, have met through on­line dat­ing sites. On­line dat­ing caters for the grow­ing gen­er­a­tion of iso­lated sin­gles who sim­ply don’t have time to so­cialise.

Stud­ies have been done by psy­chol­o­gists on how to max­imise your suc­cess on­line. United King­dom re­searcher Dr Mon­ica Whitty, a lec­turer at Not­ting­ham Trent Univer­sity, said cute pseu­do­nyms at­tract more hits than se­ri­ous ones. So if you are look­ing for love try snug­gle­bunny rather than or phys­i­cal de­scrip­tions also at­tract in­ter­est so and

would also get you some at­ten­tion.

Peo­ple then usu­ally write glowing pro­files of their pos­i­tive traits and ideal part­ners. Dat­ing sites al­low them to meet a whole sec­tion of the pub­lic they would be un­likely to meet.

But since cy­ber dat­ing first took off in the mid-nineties, the first wave of cy­ber di­vorces have also started in the United States. So maybe In­ter­net matches are not the happy ever af­ter they promised to be.

Ac­cord­ing to South African re­la­tion­ship con­sul­tant Ali Mur­ray, if you have an amaz­ing ro­mance based on an on­line fan­tasy, at some point re­al­ity has to in­ter­vene.

“The su­per fan­tas­tic per­sona slides and the truth is ex­posed. He has in­grown toe­nails and he doesn’t brush his teeth or she is al­ways in a bad mood in the morn­ing and is stingy with her money. Usu­ally at six months the prover­bial rose-tinted glasses be­gin to crack,” she says.

Mur­ray says: “When peo­ple are cor­re­spond­ing on line, they are in the ro­mance phase of a re­la­tion­ship and they are do­ing their best to main­tain a façade. The per­son on the other side has no idea he or she is talk­ing to some­one sitting be­hind a screen in his or her smelly slip­pers with greasy hair.

“I sug­gest that peo­ple use the In­ter­net to make con­nec­tions and that they move into the meet­ing and get­ting-real phase as soon as pos­si­ble. Pro­long­ing the fan­tasy is not likely to help, ex­cept to make the heart­break worse.

“There are those peo­ple who clearly do not want a re­la­tion­ship and just want sex. They are not in­ter­ested in a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship. There are dat­ing sites specif­i­cally for one-night stands. I have heard there are niche mar­kets that cater only for cy­ber sex. At least this is safe — it in­volves no body flu­ids and seems to sat­isfy some peo­ple.”

Pan­ick­ing be­cause of bad pub­lic­ity given to the on­line flops, dat­ing sites in the U.S. are fo­cus­ing on strength­en­ing re­la­tion­ships that form on­line by urg­ing daters to have per­son­al­ity-com­pat­i­bil­ity tests. If they tie the knot, the sites of­fer free mar­riage coun­selling if the go­ing gets rough.

eHar­mony.com tracks their happy couples for a num­ber of years and of­fer tips for a happy mar­riage. It has a 12ses­sion mar­riage pro­gramme cre­ated by a team of in-house psy­chol­o­gists.

An­other site, Match.com of­fers a coun­selling pro­gramme by TV celeb shrink Dr Phil Mc Graw. Joe Tracy, pub­lisher of On­line Dat­ing Mag­a­zine, says more sites are try­ing to cap­i­talise on peo­ple who are al­ready in re­la­tion­ships.

Al­though there are no offi- cial di­vorce sta­tis­tics for those who met on­line, like life they don’t al­ways have fairy-tale end­ings.

A Dur­ban di­vorce at­tor­ney said he has han­dled a few cases where couples have split up be­cause of In­ter­net in­fi­delity. In the U.S., lawyers have used false In­ter­net dat­ing pro­files in cus­tody suits.

But it’s not all bad news. If you are un­happy with your In­ter­net match a few years down the line, you can al­ways ap­ply for a quick on­line e-di­vorce. They cost less than R2 000 in South Africa and if you are still feel­ing heart sore you can get free on­line di­vorce coun­selling from just.ask.com.

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