The leap from the modern digital society in the 1980s and ’90s left the old dating paradigms in the dust. In 1970, 28.3% of the U.S. population was single, according to the Census Bureau. By 2000, that percentage was up to 40.4%. With tens of millions of Americans changing addresses each year, the deep community ties that often resulted in long-lasting relationships leading to marriage have become rare. Longer hours at work have likewise put a damper on dating. And the workplace itself, now rife with fears of sexual harassment, no longer presents the same opportunities for romance.

Now the shift is in full swing as the Main Street crowd has increasingly taken a shine to this new mating medium. Since January, 2003, the number of visits to online-dating sites has soared 51%, according to Hitwise, an Australian company that tracks traffic coming from Internet service providers around the world. Web consultancy comScore Media Metrix tallies the total number of people using these services worldwide at 37 million. The leading U.S. site,, has over 8 million active profiles alone, equivalent to nearly 5% of the U.S. adult population.

What’s more, people are increasingly pulling out their credit cards to pay the matchmaker. According to the Online Publishers Assn., Web surfers anted up $302 million to buy personals at dating sites in 2002. That’s a 319% increase over 2001’s $72 million.
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