Something quite extraordinary is happening here in the United Kingdom. Internet dating has become a national phenomenon. While the rest of the IT boom has gone distinctly wobbly, the one area where the new technology is making a mint is the amazing development of cyberspace romance.
The problem it seems is that young British women can't find love - at least not in the way they used to. Dating a guy in the office is nowadays frowned upon. Picking up a guy in a bar is a risky proposition. The answer lies in your computer - log on, pay up and take your pick. Don't be shy. You won't be alone.
Datingdirect.com - one of the big three over here - already has 850,000 members with new hopefuls joining at the rate of 100,000 a month. Every evening at least 200,000 thousand people log on in search of a potential partner - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Datingdirect.com only claims around nine per cent of the market. There's u-date and date-me and lovers2 and lonely-hearts online and scores more.
Enterprising internet entrepreneurs are launching additional services almost daily - specially deigned to serve the needs of niche markets. There's ivorytowers.com for the intellectually inclined - you have to be a college graduate to take part. There's nomoregfrogs.co.uk which uses psychometric testing to help you assess your own qualities and points you in the direction of guys who are scientifically-assessed to be compatible.
Naturally, there are internet services galore for gays and lesbians looking for love. There are cyberspace dates on offer to those of riper years - at greylove.com and sex4seniors.
And I think we can all guess what subscribers to upforashag.com have in mind.
Don't knock it till you've tried it- and, incredibly, it seems that millions - yes, millions – have.
By Gyles Brandreth
Copyright 2003 CBS. All rights reserved.