Millionaire Cupid: Wired for LOVE

The Internet is playing a big role today in almost every aspect of a human's life. We search for information from the net, we study from e-learning programmes, we use emails to keep in touch with people for both personal and business purposes, while many become hard core fans of the popular chat engines like MSN and Skype.

It's no longer surprising internet has also become a tool for singles to search for their right matches and soul mates. Some directly login to the online dating sites, while many start from social networking internet services such as Hi5, Facebook, MySpace and Multiply.

Despite many harms known to exist in the cyberworld - like people giving false identities or women reportedly lured into sexual abuses or even murders - a lot of singles are still willing to jump in and the number of online dating sites as well as their members have kept increasing over the years.

Kasamart Neerapatama, senior vice-president of Sanook Online Limited, which runs the matchmaking web site, says after 10 years of service, the number of Thaimate users have increased from 30,000 people at the beginning to almost one million at present.

Among them, 300,000 people are active members, meaning they are still using the service within 90 days. The number of users online is about 6,000 per day.


Why online dating?

Kasamart said the Internet has an increased role in love relationship as much it has in other life matters.

"Think of what most people do when they arrive at the office every morning - make a cup of coffee, turn on the computer, check emails and browse web sites. If they are feeling lonely or are heartbroken, then tapping into the online dating sites is a likely choice. The way of life today makes the Internet closer to people, and online matchmaking services easier to access," says Kasamart.

He adds that online dating opens a new channel for the singles to find someone to fulfill their empty lives.

''In the past, it used to be difficult for Thais to meet someone out of their life circles. So we've seen many doctors marry nurses, suppliers marry purchasers, salespersons marry marketing people, or judges marry prosecutors. But the internet helps you break through the old narrow circles of friends to meet a variety of people you've never been involved,'' he explains.

He cites a successful case of a Muslim woman living in Chiang Mai who married a Muslim from the deep South after meeting on Thaimate.

''Had they not logged into the web site, they would have missed the chance to meet each other,'' says Kasamart.

What's a crush?

The appeal of online dating lies with the excitement when you are connected to someone you do not know. For some, chatting online with a stranger living a long distance away may allow them to better express their own selves and attitudes without caring for each other's physical appearances.

One more good point of online dating is that you can search through the web until you find the one you are contented with. Then you may start making contact, wait for the response, and pursue the relationship if you click with that person. If not, you still can quit and keep looking for a better match. Everything depends on your judgement.


Rules for online dating

As every coin has two sides, online dating also has its pros and cons. Since this kind of relationship develops in a cyberworld, it is difficult for us to know what is and is not true, or whether the persons we talk to are really good or bad. Once we're engaged in online dating, there are a lot of things we have to take into account, and here are some rules for the cyber love.

- Be careful in pursuing a relationship

The risk of online dating is that you can be wooed with sweet words or eloquence that appear on the computer screen, not a personality or appearance that are easier to judge.

It is recommended that you go back to those previous emails since you first contacted each other. Read them carefully. The messages between the lines will tell you something about your date. Has he or she been true to you? And you'll get some clues about what way your relationship is heading for.

- First, clarify the age and status.

Age and marital status are what to be clarified from the beginning. A tricky or dishonest guy will speak hesitantly, or not tell you straightly. If that happens, it's better to click ''delete'' that person so as to screen out those married guys or playboys who only want to play games with you.

- Pay caution to an overly extroverted person

Be careful if your date is so quick to disclose his personal information. This kind of people will push you around and make every attempt to rush the relationship. But things that begin too fast usually end easily too.

Note that online dating is a mutual communication between two persons. It's better to give your relationship some more time, let it grow naturally and gradually.

- Don't rush your relationship

One good point of online dating is that you can take time with your date as long as you want, be it one week, one month or even a year. Nobody can rush you. Make every careful step in your relationship, otherwise a mistake can easily happen. Don't rush to meet a man or a woman just after the first few talks. He or she may not be a person you imagine.

- Be honest to your date

Be yourself and true to your date. Do not overstate your personality to make it sound as if you were a hero or an angel. Your partner may have over-expectation on you, and that may trouble your relationship when you both come out of the cyberworld.

- When having a date, do not go to private places

Once you click with someone on the net, going for a date is unavoidable in most cases as it's a way for both sides to better know each other. Bringing along a friend might not be very useful in case you want to get to know each other well.

For your first date, make sure you'll see each other in a public place. If anything wrong happens, you can ask for helps or run away from the guy.

- Ask yourself what you really want

Study your own feeling. Think of what you really need, a soulmate, a friend, or you're just playing games for fun. If you are serious enough, go on with your date. But in case you already have someone and only want to exercise your charm, keep it to the limit. When you have an online dating, it means you already step into someone else's world, so be careful of each other's feelings, otherwise it can get you in trouble.