It's time for love with Valentine's Day fast approaching and technology has an increasingly important role to play in Cupid's annual wooing game, according to a number of reports.
A sample survey conducted by UK ISP Prestel On-line has found 42 percent of its users had either met a partner on the Internet or knew someone who had.
Dateline, the world's biggest introduction agency reports 8,000 hits a day on its Web site, compared to 1,000 when it was set up in 1997. "There is certainly a market for online introductions, with many young, affluent, single people now hooked up to the Internet," said Guy Morris, IT manager at Dateline. He expects demand to increase considerably in the run-up to the millennium. Individuals will soon be able to pay their Dateline registration fees online.
According to a recent NOP poll, love is not so much in the air as down the fax line. One in ten office workers has used a fax to ask someone out on a date, and a cowardly two percent have even dumped a former partner via fax. A quarter of workers would prefer to be asked out by fax rather than e-mail and nearly a third claimed to prefer a fax from a partner rather than e-mail.
E-mail remains the medium of choice for many office workers intent on finding romance. "In e-mail you can adopt a persona and set out on a campaign of wooing," commented one serial e-mailer.
Another online lothario described the Internet as "the singles' bar of the nineties".
He has had three affairs with women he met over the Net, travelling to America to meet two women. The other was closer to home, lasted two years and began in an AOL chatroom. "I knew within five minutes, I wanted to meet her," he said. He believes the Internet has transformed his love life and recommends it to those getting over a broken heart.
"Online romance is a good way of getting back on the horse," he said. Since the failure of his trips to America, he has only one rule for his cyber romances. "They must live within Zone 3," he said.
AOL is the medium that brings together Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the romantic comedy You've Got Mail, due for release in the UK on 26 February.