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But in the 20th century this all changed, with young people deciding they wanted to be in charge of their own domestic destinies.Matchmakers were viewed as hook-nosed crones from Fiddler on the Roof or pushy Mrs Bennet at the Pemberley ball.
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”.
“A secondary problem to this is feeling you don’t match up to your competition because the longer you spend on sites, the more you realise you’re up against vast numbers of singles.
Many singles I’ve met report starting out fairly confidently on online dating sites but then begin to feel they’re simply not good enough.” Lucy Wilkinson, has only one regret about her online dating adventures.
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.