Three-quarters of partners in couples that met on the Internet had had no idea that a mate was waiting in cyberspace. In other words, they had had no non-virtual contact beforehand.
Online venues most often cited as good meeting places were Web dating sites, virtual classifieds, chat rooms, social networking Web sites (such as Facebook or MySpace) and through Internet games.
There appeared to be another advantage to meeting online: Breakup rates were higher among couples who had met the old-fashioned way, through friends -- 9.6 percent vs. 8.1 percent who had met through other means.
Groups that previously had little hope are also now finding their odds greatly heightened.
"What's particularly intriguing is the notion that for select groups that may have been marginalized in the past, [this provides] great opportunities to connect to people which may not have been readily available in traditional methods [such as] friends or gay clubs," Rego said.
The study describes one lesbian woman in the South who started meeting people in her ZIP code using America Online (now called AOL). Previous forays into a gay bar and a gay church had been fruitless.
The same holds true for the older set.
"I have a lot of people in the 30-to-40 age range who are either separated or divorced or had put their career first and suddenly they realized the friendship networks that they would typically have used have dried up because those friends are married or forming families and so don't go out as frequently," Rego said. "Now you've got this whole medium where potentially millions of people come together."
Quinn is also seeing more middle-aged heterosexual singles meeting over the Internet, as well as gay and lesbians.
"The message of it is clear. This trend is happening and it seems logical," Rego said. "I imagine that this will continue to grow as people grow into the Internet and embrace
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