Romance is not dead, thanks to online dating

Last updated 00:00 17/10/2007

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The growing popularity of online dating services has brought with it a resurgence in old-fashioned courtship, the head of Australia's most popular online dating service says.

Male users on the online dating service RSVP tend to be the ones making the first move on prospective partners, the website's general manager Hannah Schwartz said today.

The Fairfax Media-owned dating service has over one million Australians on its database, with users ranging in age from 18 to over 80.

RSVP users pay a fee to send a message to someone they are interested in, and Ms Schwartz believes men are generally the first to initiate an online conversation.

"This is a very interesting observation," Ms Schwartz said.

"We do see a pattern where men are more likely to make the first move in the online environment.

"I find this curious as you go now out to a pub or to a party and women are just as open about showing an interest in a man as a man is to a woman.

"We are sort of reinforcing this older method of contacting."

Men make up 55 per cent of RSVP users, and while more than half of the website's members are aged between 30 and 50, many younger, Generation Y males are going back to the future and making the first move, Ms Schwartz said.

Feedback from members and observations from RSVP-organised events indicate male online daters are also more confident when they progress to a face-to-face meeting, Ms Schwartz said.

"Men tend to come to events alone, women tend to come with friends," she said.

"I think that says something too, that men potentially are more comfortable being alone in their pursuit of a partner, where women, at least initially, might feel more comfortable having friends by their side."

The popularity of online dating continues to grow in Australia, Ms Schwarz said, with research indicating over one million Australians visit online dating services each month.

The boom in social networking sites such as Facebook hasn't hurt the industry, she said, as they are generally used by people to interact with friends rather than find romance.

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