04/11/2013 10:12 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:52 GMT

The World of Online Dating: By a Married Mum of Two

Being hitched with two kids, you wouldn't think the world of online dating would be on my radar at all. However, partly due to being an agony aunt and mainly due to be a magnet for the love-lorn (my husband's words not mine), I suddenly find myself helping my single friends try to find love online. Where once it was viewed as last-ditch for the desperate, figures now show one in five UK relationships begin online while meeting via the internet is now the third most popular way to find a date.

Having not been single for over a decade, a few weeks of 'helping' out has proved that modern online dating is, as Bridget Jones would say, tricky to say the least. Aside from the fact that dating online now demands you be; adept at taking a selfie, wittier than Russell Brand and a super multi-tasker (so you can juggle dating profiles, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all at the same time)... who has the actual time to go on a date? It's no wonder that one friend confesses that reading her bulging inbox is an ego boost that far outweighs the thrill of actually dating.

From an observer's point of view, online dating has also given me a horrible insight into my own personal shortcomings. I find myself helping friends make snap judgements about people's looks - too shiny, too hairy, and too tidy - and their grammar (yes I am both shallow and nerdy). And it makes me, and possibly the whole online world grateful that I am no longer single.

Years ago, when online dating sites first launched I happily gave them a go. Back then it was as simple as keying in your likes and dislikes and adding a picture. Mostly my dates were okay, though a couple were outright disasters. One man told he was American and 34, when he was 54 and German. Another said he was single but was so obviously married, his wedding ring fell out his wallet when he was buying me a drink. I am reliably informed that the world of online dating still contains many who lie and embellish, but on the whole it tends to be as hit and miss as ordinary dating.

While it's undoubtedly a good thing for those who are time starved, I can't help but sense the shopping mentality of online dating does make modern daters excessively picky about what they want. One friend signed up with the specification that she wanted: 'An architect because this is both creative and practical and it would help if he had nice hands, curly hair and an iPad'.

Other lists I have seen have been equally picky and strange. Rather like the now infamous 'Sleepless in Austin' who recently stated he 'liked a lot of attention and didn't like girls who dressed slutty or wore glasses'. Like some of my friends I suspect he too, will be single forever.

Ironically my own shopping list of partner qualities would probably be pretty far removed from the man I ended up marrying; in fact I'm positive I didn't have excessive swearing and cage fighting on my list. Equally, I am sure my husband didn't have obsession with shoes and 'woman-with-road-rage on his'. Which I think shows that when it comes to dating (online or otherwise), it's the stuff you don't think to post about, or even ask about which usually makes for a happy match. Then again I could be wrong - only time will tell.