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Online dating sites skew stats: 4 out of 5 matches made elsewhere

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Internet dating sites may be putting a spin on the facts to compete for your dating dollars, as they try to steer cyber socializing to a new level. The marketing of products or services sometimes involves the vendor's slant on unremarkable facts or ingredients, making them seem unique. Lately, online dating sites have been touting themselves as a major component in single life, and while the option is popular, it isn't necessarily the front-running way people are meeting.

If 4 out of 5 dentists (80%) recommend a brand of toothpaste, that is an overwhelming majority and the reverse, therefore, is that a measly 1 out of 5 does not. Why, then, would 1 out of 5 relationships that "start online" (according to commercials by Match.com) indicate it's the biggest thing since sliced bread? That statement tells us that 4 out of 5 relationships (80% again, with or without sparkling teeth this time) start elsewhere! Singles should note that majority percentage if, indeed, they are trying to do what all the cool kids are doing. Perhaps the stereotype that singles are desperate, lonely, and need to assimilate into the pod or forever wander in anguish supports the dating service's low ratio as a growing trend; but it is, first and foremost, a growing business.

Let's be clear: Match.com does not claim that 1 in 5 relationships starts on their particular site, only that 1 in 5 "start online", which could also include folks who meet in chat rooms, reunion sites, Facebook, and the like. "Online" casts a wide net, if you'll excuse the pun. But, Match presents that info so you'll associate their brand name with it, and consider their service as part of some impressive number.

There's another web site claiming to be a horse of a different color because they are a "relationship site", basing matches on detailed criteria that "matter most" for deep, meaningful levels of companionship. But, if you enter your name, rank and serial number on eHarmony and plan to finish the questionnaire later, you'll wake the next day with several choices lined up for you, based on... well... your name. You get what you give, so if you only put in a little info, you'll get back a selection of others who started to type a profile but had to go potty.

So, if 80% of single adults are finding other ways to meet and greet, it's a sure bet that some of them are being introduced by friends, by chance, at work, or by personal fortitude and getting out more. It's ironic that singulars will stubbornly tell friends they don't want to be fixed up, yet they'll use (or sometimes pay) a web site to present them with strangers, through puffy essays or computerized selections. Anonymity during profile perusal might make singles more comfortable and assertive, but life isn't always about controlled situations, and love certainly isn't based on practiced speeches or polished photos. Weddings are, but that's another industry.

Online dating is certainly one option. In fact, my experience with it included falling in love with a wonderful match at one time, so this criticism of their bloated advertising does not come from a hater. It has introduced some couples who later married, some who didn't, and some who made the 11:00 news for scary reasons. But as long as 80% or more single folks are still meeting in the real world, rather than putting effort and money into screen time in their slippers, I say more power to the majority, on this particular topic.

A single thought: facts and figures

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