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Matchmakers were viewed as hook-nosed crones from Fiddler on the Roof or pushy Mrs Bennet at the Pemberley ball.

“We’d love to get hold of more of it, but they’re not keen to share though we’re in discussion with a few of them,” says Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University and author of The Science of Love and Betrayal.Yes, according to psychologists at Chicago University who last week reported that marriages that begin online – whether on an online dating site or via social networking sites like Facebook – stood a greater chance of success than those that began in the “real world”.The researchers interviewed 20,000 people who had married between 20.“Although I felt a bit of a loser, I joined an online dating agency.I filled forms about my interests, my opinions and my personal goals – which was having a family – something I’d been too frightened to mention to my exes in the early days for fear of scaring them off.“But the men I was introduced to were told what I wanted and shared those dreams. From the off we were on the same page and then it was only a matter of finding someone I also found physically attractive and that was Mark, the third man I met.” Wilkinson is far from alone.One in five relationships in the UK starts online, according to recent surveys, and almost half of all British singles have searched for love on the internet.But since 1995 when the first online dating site was launched, the tables have completely turned.Cash-rich, time-poor professionals who already do everything from shop to socialise online, now see a search engine as the obvious gateway to love.“I was 33, had just broken up with my boyfriend and was beginning to think I’d never have a family life.I’d always been attracted to mavericks, handsome men, who – after a year or so – made it clear they had no intention of settling down.

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