Online love case study: When you do meet up it's like an interview. The whole process becomes routine after a while

Sophie Kingscott, 24, and Mark Hook, 30, both from Bristol

Sophie "I split up with my boyfriend of 3 years in October 2011 and after two months of being single, I got bored. I went online because it was difficult to meet new people. I worked with just my boss, all my friends are in relationships and I wasn't going out lots, even when I did I found that people were mainly interested in one night stands.
I joined plenty of fish in March and started talking to Mark online, but it wasn't until two months later that we met up. Plenty of fish is definitely designed for a younger market, there are people looking for relationships, but it's more geared towards casual sex. I went on a couple of dates with a guy from plenty of fish before I met Mark, but he turned out to be a disaster, he came back to the flat and stayed for a few days, but I found it really hard to get rid of him.

As far as the 'real life' aspect of online dating goes, when you eventually do meet up it's kind of like an interview, the whole process becomes routine after a while which maybe takes away from chemistry a bit. There are some pitfalls to online dating, quite a few people that I met were older than what they said they were, or used overly flattering images on their profiles which didn't match up in real life.

As far as cutting people off goes, it's easier to be brutally honest. After a date I would just say, sorry, I really don't think there was any chemistry. Having initially met online allows you to be more honest; you'll never see them again, it's not like they're a friend of a friend so you don't need to be embarrassed, everyone can just move on to the next date. Searching for people online also means you can be really honest about what you want and don't want, it sort of speeds up the dating process, it's basically an online catalogue of men that you might find attractive, which is great."

Mark "I had a lot of long term relationships in my younger years so in 2010 when I found myself single, I tried meeting girls in bars, which mainly resulted in one night stands. Most of which were with girls who I didn't particularly like. Later in the year I thought I should try something different, so I set about trying to meet someone interesting on the web.

I quickly realised that online dating was a whole new beast, it was weird, the whole scene is different. Girls get 70 to 80 messages a day; you quickly have to stand out, in terms of what you say about yourself. Girls see the same stuff day in and day out, especially from blokes who aren't very original and would say things like; my interests are football, beer, and cars and I like to go out with mates.

I took a different approach; I ended up being a bit more direct, I said things like, 'don't get in touch with me if you have more make up than face, unless you're a clown, then we might be alright', or, 'I don't like girls with drama, if you have drama join a club', It got people intrigued. It was weird, some of the messages I received were surreal, one woman said; 'hi there I'm 5 months pregnant but the Dad's not on the scene, interested?' And another who sent a message for 4 months every Wednesday just saying 'Hi'.

When you meet, in general the dates would be weird. Sometimes they wouldn't be who they said they were. There was one really pretty Irish girl; she was a nurse and ended up being genuinely one of the craziest people I've ever met. On our first and only date, she started swearing at a group of guys next to me for being too loud, she then screamed at the bar staff for putting too much ice in her drink, and threw cubes of it at them. You can understand why I decided not to see her again.

If I liked someone I quickly gave them my email or Facebook, because you can get a better social impression of someone through their Facebook profile. I mainly used Facebook to chat after the initial pairing through a site. I was never that comfortable with the dating sites. Online everyone has an agenda; everyone is immediately judging each other.

At first I was guilty of making assumptions about people, I wondered why pretty girls were online dating, but now I know a lot of 'hot' girls who use it, I suppose it's a good vetting system to chat to someone that they actually want to chat to, even if they do get chatted up all the time. I think it's easier for girls to use online dating, if you're an attractive girl, you can pick and choose.

You can meet someone offline, but part of me thinks I would have met her anyway. She now works with my best friend. Can work like anything, a lot of the time it will I don't know if there is any truth in claims that relationships that begin online are less likely to fall apart, if you meet someone online you still have the same issues, you quickly find out if you have chemistry. In the long term it doesn't matter how you meet, and the internet is still just the first chapter, you still have your whole story to tell after that."

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