I can't quite get my head around online dating.
While I'm nothing special to look at, I've been assured that my face doesn't make small children want to cry, and on this basis alone, I feel I 'should' be able to meet someone in 'real' life.
But it's not all about looks (unless you're on Tinder). The information you share about yourself also contributes to making a connection. Meeting your match online no longer has the stigma it once did: statistically, one in four marriages now start on the internet.
It seems like online dating has its own set of rules, some of them more obscure than you might think. For example, apparently you are likely to get more hits if you wear red in your profile picture. Also, and this is not research, just anecdotal, you are less likely to get hits if your profile pic is a selfie (no friends), if you're drinking in too many pictures (not ready to settle down), or if you're wearing a wedding ring. This actually happened: my friend saw it. It could just be an old picture, right?
Or, more likely, the guy is a jerk.
Anyway, what else attracts people to your profile? What information should you put up there, and what should you hold back?
Liking dogs: good. Liking cats: bad. Smiling is seen as more enticing than pouting, and even the weather has an impact: daters prefer pictures taken in sunnier climates to a frostier tableau.
So far, so similar to real life.
However, the traditional ideas about wealth being attractive don't hold much sway in the virtual dating world. According to dating site ayi.com, in the UK, both men and women are less likely to contact someone who boasts about their income on their profile.
Pretty much irrespective of how much someone earns, it seems like it sends some kind of message, which isn't well received. Perhaps it's crass, or, maybe we're cynics, and just don't believe the numbers people post. After all, men are notorious for lying about their height, so why wouldn't they lie about their bank balance?
This is slightly different in the US, where both men and women are attracted to people who post high earnings. The moral of this is don't put your salary on your UK profile, and if you're dating in the US, do put it up. If it's high, that is.
The main bugbear of those who go on a date with someone they met online is how frequently the reality doesn't match up to the pictures. Old pictures are a massive no-no. The truth will out, and it's good to pleasantly surprise your date, rather than annoy them by barely resembling your shots.
Finally, it appears to be a numbers game: experts agree that success involves some level of investment in terms of time. View more profiles, send more messages, and be open to meeting up with as many people as possible.
At the end of the day, there seems to be a pinch of luck involved, as with anything, but most people now know at least one solid couple who met on a dating site.