Fallen for an old flame? Just log on for counselling

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If your marriage comes under pressure because Friends Reunited, the reunion dot com, has put you in touch with an old flame, you can discuss your problems on a new website.

Affairs between ex-boyfriends and girlfriends put back in touch through www.friendsreunited.com are increasing, says a survey by research firm NetValue. But Selene.org.uk is here to help out.

The site has been launched to help people with relationships, dealing with everything from coping with jealousy to ultimate rejection.

"The aim is to provide a resource for those who are searching for support on difficult relationship issues," says Siobham Carew, founder and executive director of Selene.

The Cambridge-based company matches members who have similar problems and hopes the introduction will lead to "informal counselling".

"Selene's matching process concentrates on introducing people with similar relationship experiences. Special care is also taken to try to ensure that members are well-matched on other criteria, so that each can benefit from the exchange," says the website.

Members also go through a screening process, where their identification and address are checked.

The company is currently charging a membership fee of £50 a year and has enough cash to take it through to profitability – Ms Carew expects Selene to be profitable within a year.

Selene does not aim to create romantic relationships between its members: "It is not about introductions and dating," says the website. And unlike friendsreunited there is no history between the members who are matched. But Ms Carew admits that, just like friends reunited, romantic relationships might be a possibility.

NetValue says the popularity of friends reunited has continued to grow rapidly. The website had 97,000 unique home visitors in May, a figure that increased to 542,000 in July.

The survey says visitors spent an average of 29.9mins on the site during July, up from 20.7mins in May. Women made up 40 per cent of the visitors, 72 per cent were aged between 25 and 49, and 20 per cent were professionals.

The success of school reunion sites in the UK mirrors the success of similar websites in the US – where there have been stories of marriages splitting up as people met old school flames. American site, classmates.com, was visited by 16 per cent of all US home internet users during July.

"A good idea can still take off at enormous speed on the internet. This success story shows the power of word of mouth on the net," says NetValue's Alki Manias.

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