11/07/2013 16:20 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

How Do You Turn An Online Hook Up Into A Face-To-Face Love Story?

Trying to meet that special someone online? So are approximately one third of the UK's single population. But why has digital dating become so popular and how do you make it work in the flesh? Amy Burnett investigates

Online dating used to be something a little risqué, that you did behind closed doors and wouldn't ever admit to. But now a third of single people say they've given it a go and one in five couples are meeting on the web. The stigma around online romance has been well and truly broken - but what's the allure making it so popular?

vintage couple

Website vs club
Our modern-day culture doesn't give much opportunity for romance - Elizabeth and Darcy got it easy in their day with balls galore and chance encounters in romantic locations. Perhaps it's not surprising that nearly twice as many people are starting relationships online than on a night out as let's face it, the average club isn't the best place to meet your soulmate. It's kinda tricky for love to blossom when you can't hear each other speak, the memory might be a little fuzzy the next day and it's mostly about looks. When boy meets girl online however the focus is on personality.

Digital culture
Romance isn't just blooming on dating websites and it's easier than ever to meet like-minded people through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other networking platforms. We're living out our lives online and Laurie Davis, author of 'Love at First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating', thinks that this is making people more open to meeting on the web. She says, "All of our relationships have gone digital. Naturally, that means that our dating lives are heading in the digital direction, too. As technology becomes an integral tool for our social lives, it's natural to adopt it for use in dating as well."

So you've met someone you like online – now what? How does the relationship progress? Laurie, who also founded eFlirt Expert, says, 'The most important part of eFlirting is getting offline! Face-to-face is where a relationship will really develop. Ideally, you want to be offline after about six messages – more than that and you might fall into pen pal territory; less and you may not have enough of a rapport for it to feel comfortable.' But is it possible to feel chemistry when you log off and meet up? You need to develop it, says Laurie. "When you meet up for the first time offline, that's what you should focus on developing. You'll feel sparks but probably not fireworks until you build a baseline of chemistry during that first meet up."

As our lives become ever more digital it seems that finding love online is only going to grow more popular, with the Darcys of the future no doubt meeting their Elizabeths on the net. There must be something in it as couples who meet online are getting hitched twice as quickly as others. So that first message of "Hey babe, wanna chat" really does turn into 'I love you'. And it's okay to shout out loud "I met someone online". How do I know? Well, I did it a couple of years ago, and as I write this, the man I met is sitting next to me in our house.

Got a date lined up? These are the perfect pieces for that first encounter...