The truth is, they can make you feel more lonely than you were before signing up. There's a time arc here that begins with creating your profile, viewing lots of dateless people and thinking 'Fucking hell, this is an Aladdin's Cave of totty!' (this is the arc's zenith), until crucially, over time, you realise that you've been on the same site for years and all you can see are the same old faces. Then, particularly if you're me, you start to feel strange and reflective, pondering on why these people are still alone. Like you.
Although the principal of sticking all the single people in one place is very intriguing, there's something harsh about it too; spirit and personality gets sidelined for a description. Physical attraction is relegated to some holiday snaps or worse, the bespoke website pose. There's no room on a dating website for laughter. There is no actual conversation. There is no chemistry. To give you an example, I can be turned off by bad grammar, and that's just fucking stupid.
As I get older and more rational, I'm less inclined to believe in fate and destiny. That said, there's something beautiful about meeting The One (if she exists), in a random moment. There's always a story too; "I wasn't in the mood to go out, but..." or, "I decided to grab a coffee - which I never do - when..."
There's nothing romantic about "I was paying 30 quid a month to sift through nature's rejects when I happened upon 'Whizzkid76.'" Doesn't quite have the same zing, particularly when you're telling the grandchildren.
Don't get me wrong. I'm just being a miserable, cynical old twat. Perhaps dating websites are great. Perhaps that ridiculously attractive girl who wrote the following...
i am looking for a man who will give me true happiness,show me love and care humble yet very strong in his words and a very hardworking man
actually meant all that, and isn't just a fiction created by bored male teenagers or a Russian crime syndicate targeting the lovelorn and wealthy.
(There must be some explanation for that. After all, what woman on planet Earth would ever write the following gem: "I the lonely woman, wish to get acquainted with the man for serious relations. I live with mum. At present I work in a beauty salon...My hobbies also I like to prepare to eat, especially hot dishes or salads. I very much like to spend a free time on fresh air"
- That was another 'genuine' profile so again, I'd like to offer my Russian crime syndicate theory. I still think it's plausible.)
So that's my tuppence worth. Dating sites are great. They're just not much cop when it comes to dating.