Middle-aged most likely to seek love on the Web

Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:26pm EST
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Middle-aged people searching for a new relationship are the most likely to look for love online, according to a Valentine's Day survey.

The poll of 12,000 couples from 18 countries by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) at the University of Oxford found that of people aged 40-69 looking to start new relationships, 36 percent revealed they had found their current partner online.

"A Global Shift in Relationship Practices: Patterns of Meeting and Dating in the Online World" also dispelled the myth that social networking and online dating is primarily for the young, with just 23 percent of 18-40 year-olds saying they had started a relationship through the internet.

"Finding your partner online was once regarded as a bit of a novelty, but this survey suggests it has become a common if not dominant way of meeting new partners," OII Research Fellow and study co-author Bernie Hogan said in a statement.

He said the questionnaire -- which related to the period 1997 to 2009 -- also revealed that people who know others who date online were more likely to try it and approve.

"Our study gives us some insight into the significance and impact of the internet and how it is affecting intimate relationships both online and offline," he said.

The survey also showed that fewer than 10 percent of people who began relationships before 2000 said they had met on a social networking site. By 2005 that had doubled to 21 percent, while the popularity of chat rooms had declined.

Church events, family gatherings or activities around a shared hobby are experiencing a slight decline in popularity as ways of finding a partner. This could be because they are viewed as less successful hunting grounds, the study's authors said.   Continued...

<p>A couple watch a sunset near a lake in Putrajaya in this December 22, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad</p>