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From Romeo and Juliet, to dashing Mr Rochester choosing plain Jane Eyre, we celebrated stories of Cupid’s dart striking randomly.
But since 1995 when the first online dating site was launched, the tables have completely turned.
Scarred by their parents’ (or their own) divorces, this generation approaches affairs of the heart with the same pragmatism as it might buying a car or booking a holiday.
But other sites, which can cost up to £3,000 a year to join, offer their clients a bespoke selection of potential partners to share your love of sushi, dachshunds or The Apprentice.
There are dedicated websites for every religion, for the unhappily married, for the beautiful – where existing members decide if you merit joining their ranks – the overweight, Oxbridge graduates, country lovers – not to mention Telegraph readers (dating.uk). Using slogans such as “love is no coincidence” they test samples of your saliva in order to make the best DNA match for you – claiming that these couples are more likely to have enduring relationships, satisfying sex lives and higher fertility rates.
These algorithms can probably pick up some key things – for example, it’s true we’re more likely to be friends with people with the same values as us, who share our cultural milieu.
“But you can’t predict what googlies life’s going to throw at a relationship, for example one of the biggest predictors of being divorced is being made redundant and no one knows if that is going to happen to them or not.” “Overall,” he adds.