Even ugly people can find love on the Internet

Even ugly people can find love on the Internet

You, yes, you: what if I ignored your call? Or we passed each other by in a crowded room? Isn't it disturbing that Cupid's arrow could be so hit-or-miss?

And yet these days, two complete strangers could be thousands of miles apart, but with a click of a mouse, light a flame of love. They could be fat, old, disabled and have STD; they could be anyone they want to be-married, single or widowed-and embark on journeys of love.

"There's a saying old, said that love is blind, still we're often told, seek and you shall find," so the song goes. Searching for love (heck, looking for sex)-if it isn't yet an epidemic, it will soon be.

Sometimes I let myself out of the 19th century and wonder: what's happened to serendipity, the preambles of courtship?

Remember the thrill of getting ready for dates: the outfit, the movie, the restaurant; the chaste kiss at the end of an evening which was never really long enough for falling in love; so, you, breathless with bewitchment, arrange to meet again.

That was then. Today we're in a postdating world of infinite opportunities. Maybe it's all the same. Maybe the past was better, just slower. Maybe today is better, just faster.

Sure, couples from well-matched castes can find happiness in traditionally arranged marriages, complete with eye-watering dowries. In the time-honoured fashion of dynastic alliances and endogamy, couples still court and marry within their tribes: an Astor marries a Churchill; a Marcos an Araneta; a Fariñas a Singson.

What if you go off-grid? Today, no longer is there a stigma attached to online dating, a multibillion-dollar industry which has opened up many ways for meeting new people.

More satisfied

In the United Kingdom, one in five relationships now starts online, with more than 10 million Britons registered on dating sites.

A recent University of Chicago research found that more than a third of couples who married in the United States, between 2005 and 2012, met online, and that they were more satisfied and less likely to break up than couples who met in the traditional manner.

Oh, the mass and volume! Match.com (17 million users a month); MatchAffinity; eHarmony; thegaggle; craigslist; DatingDirect, to name a few. Because the Internet is a vast and transgressive market catering to all kinds and kinks, it even has a site for ugly people-theuglybugball.com. "Ugly people," said the site's founder, Howard James, "are easier to please; they have lower expectations."

Surprisingly, people in their 50s and 60s are the fastest-growing demographic in the online dating pool. Retrosexuals-fleeing loveless beds and carcasses of sex-drought, failed or stale marriages-are logging on to reheat relationships with childhood sweethearts, first loves or old flames.

Beware, for as many as there are sites, so, too, are the risks. Many have been duped and fleeced of their money by online fraudsters creating fictitious profiles with photos of attractive men and women. A spark is ignited and a scam usually starts with a request for a small sum of money-to pay off a debt, or for a relative's medical treatment.

Philip Hunt, 58, went online for love after two failed marriages. He met Rose, a "young and beautiful woman living in Nigeria." Over eight months, through e-mails and texts, Rose bled Philip dry. He remortgaged his house, took out loans, and when he put himself on the path of an express train that killed him instantly, he had debts of £82,000 (S$163,744).

Millionairess Carole Waugh, 49, described herself in her online profile as "posh totty fun," promising "true girlfriend experience." Two gambling addicts hooked up with her, stole her identity, sold her home and stripped her of her bank accounts and assets. She was fatally stabbed in the neck, her body stuffed in the boot of a car.

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