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Can I find true love with an escort in Newcastle?

Whether you’re looking for love, searching for sex or simply trying to find someone to pass the time with the modern dating scene is one of the most constantly shifting landscapes. It is a place in which all of your wants and desires are dangled tantalisingly in front of you from the comfort of your own home. The dating industry has been revolutionised in such a way that today’s lonely singles simply couldn’t imagine a time without internet-based matchmaking. But how has the internet truly changed the dating industry? How have things been improved? How have things been made much worse?

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Ever since the way in which we search to find a potential life partner has evolved hand in hand with developing technology. From here we went to newspapers dedicated entirely to personal ads before the end of the 19th century. After the end of the first world war, there were swathes of who couldn’t wait to get onto the dating ladder. It wouldn’t be until midway through the 1990s however that the internet would come into play and completely revolutionise the ways in which we meet people. Initially using the personal ad framework a good percentage of the internet’s population flocked to message boards in the hopes of hooking up. Using sites like Craigslist and AOL forums, citizens of the Web put themselves out into the public eye to catch that elusive date. With this model, there were obvious setbacks. As it turns out putting your information on an early 90s internet chatroom sometimes didn’t go exactly as you would have hoped. In amongst the catfish and the creeps, these forums were a hive for sexual exploitation and even human trafficking.

With the explosion in applications for love, it was only a matter of time before it was monetised. Kiss.com was founded in 1994, followed shortly after by Match.com in 1995. These two were subsequently overshadowed by eharmony - founded in 2000 the site now boasts over 66 million members across 200 countries. Thanks to these early adopters the dating industry quickly became a world leader. In 2005 there was the online video dating site ‘Tune In Hook Up’ which was hastily dropped by its creators who then went on to put together a little streaming service called Youtube.

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The current online dating scene is split between services like eharmony and match.com which build on-site profiles in an attempt to matchmake and the apps which link directly to your social accounts and go from there like Tinder and Bumble. If we move away from the pure statistics of online dating, what does this current trend mean for dating at the human level? It is said that within the first 7 seconds of meeting someone new you have already made lasting impressions. With online dating, you have already scrolled through who someone is, what their hobbies are and what they look like before being face to face. This definitely alters the dating dynamic.

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We also have to think about how online dating has almost gamified the industry, on apps especially. The way in which swiping and instant stimuli are involved provides users with instant gratification before a date is even involved. As part of modern dating, game users will create digital identities and perceive themselves in certain ways to get more matches. With any game, there are certain moves you can make that give you an increased chance of winning. From types of profile pics to opening lines, everything plays its part. With so many users online the notion that the grass is always greener and that people can be instantly replaced also affects how we develop relationships. Slight faults or nuances can spell instant rejection or even the dreaded ghosting.

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Despite the dizzying numbers online dating also has a few drawbacks as far as users' real intentions. When looking at a study it was shown that over 70% of the group had not actually met anyone faces to face. The study also showed that nearly half of those questioned used the app for a confidence boost.

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Sites that take more time to build up profiles for their clientele like Match.com seem to have more success in building a base of people looking for long-lasting love. This may also have something to do with the fact that it comes with a price tag of $29.99 a month. The high cost keeps away most people who use dating sites for either a confidence boost at the expense of others or those looking for short term commitments. Whether you like it or not online dating is here to stay. Millions of couples have found each other thanks to modern sites, apps and dating techniques. The dating industry brings in billions of dollars each year just from its paying customers and has more client data than anyone could possibly fathom. But with all of this success, it has brought with it short-sightedness and fickle attitudes towards finding the one.

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For a guy like me, dating is scary enough as it is. Knowing that I didn’t quite turn out to be drop-dead gorgeous after all was bad enough, but sifting through thousands, millions, of profiles on my mobile phone is mortifying.

Why?

Because I always get the sense that people who go on dating apps aren’t telling me everything I need to know.

It wasn’t so difficult thirty years ago. Back then, the internet didn’t exist. You didn’t need a computer to find a date. Mobile phones certainly weren’t as advanced as they are today. You had to go out and physically search for someone you liked, someone you thought was special. When you did, you’d ask her out.

She could’ve said yes, no, maybe, or simply slapped you. In the more extreme circumstances, perhaps even throw a drink in your face. If she said yes, you’d go out, hoping to have a great time.

Then, in 1994, the internet developed a different way to find a date.

Kiss.com was the first online dating website. Match.com followed a year later, then E-Harmony, Badoo and dozens more followed. Popular thinking at the time was that it was simply a fad, a cheap trick to get hold of your personal information.

In fact, I remember my father telling me that the only people who’d use such websites were fifty-year-old, single, lonely men who got turned down for a date by every woman they’d ever met.

I suspect he was wrong because, today, the dating app business is booming. It’s a multi-million-pound industry with apps for every kind of person out there and from every walk of life.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re straight, gay, bisexual, transsexual, whether your search is based on religious beliefs or a professional with a career if you’re looking for a special someone over a certain age or a certain race. Are you a vegan? Then there’s a specialist app out there just for you. There’s even an app for women who like bearded men. (Handy, now the lockdown is easing!)

The dating industry, as it is today, is a consequence of living in a pluralist society, and it’s amazing to think that we, as a culture, are prepared to fork out up to a hundred quid per person just to get a look at the good stuff. That might be my problem with this style of dating. You have to pay the equivalent of a night out before you can have a night out!

Perhaps that makes me a Scrooge-type character, but it just seems so impersonal to me, which is perhaps the biggest problem about all this. There’s no real emotion to any of it. Not like actually having a date, where you have fun, connect with each other, to realise that you may have found the love of your life.

However, there is something to be said for technology bringing us closer together. Depending on the chosen app you use, you can discover a lot more about the person you see on screen. Although I’ve never tried it, I understand that you can go on Tinder and check your chosen partner’s Instagram account, if they have one, thus giving you access to even more information about them.

This, of course, can be a double-edged sword. It’s the cost of using social media, I guess. The more information we put into it, the more information someone can get out of it.

What’s interesting is the number of profiles I’ve seen that don’t have any information included with their photo. What should be made of this? What does it mean? Are they afraid to share? Do they want a long-term relationship or just a one night stand?

The truth is, dating apps can be a minefield for a man who’s honestly looking for someone special, and if it’s hard to figure out for someone like me, it must be hellish for women. You hear complaints of dates going badly, of finding potential partners who turn out to be just plain weird.

Women who are understandably disappointed because they can’t find ‘a real gentlemen’ only makes me wonder what kind of dates they’ve been on previously, and what kind of men use these apps! Again, you can find websites dedicated to online dating app complaints, too.

The dating scene seems so dispassionate that we’ve sacrificed long term romance to gain a mere moment of self-satisfaction. We use people and then discard them, without so much as a by-your-leave.

That’s a sad social commentary, right there.

I understand that we are, now more than ever, a throw-away culture, but I find it slightly disturbing that we can do it with people with such regularity, and we do it based on a simple photograph.

I was in a bar the other day, and a pretty brunette who was standing nearby (social distance rules applied, naturally). I tried to talk to her, but she looked so shocked as if horrified to speak to an actual person. She said nothing and turned away. The old ways may work, but not often. Clearly, the connection isn’t what it used to be.

The ability to communicate with each other without using the internet seems to be a dying art. To get to know someone, you’ve got to be a good listener. However, it’s all boiled down to whether you like the picture or not, and the profile that’s presented with it. What comes next, the actual date, is where you find out if their personality matches the profile.

So, it’s a trade-off, isn’t it? True, the internet has given us access to millions of more people than you could’ve ever found before it existed, but the downside is that the photo you see on screen is sometimes not treated as a real person, it is better to find Craigslist adult contacts in Newcastle NSW who is, after all, looking for exactly the same thing you are.

A little love in this crazy world.