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More Love For Cyber Love

Since its debut nearly 20 years ago, the business of online dating has steadily grown and now boasts a membership of 40 million and $2.1 billion in annual revenue.Richard Buss, senior account manager at Dating Factory in Lincoln, Calif., said that the number of visitors and members on his site has tripled over the past year.“The dating industry is very exciting,” he said.Buss explained that one of the greatest changes has been the rise of dating apps on mobile phones.“More and more people are using their cell phones for online dating,” he said.Mobile dating currently produces $212.6 million per annum with 13 of the top 20 apps linked to dating sites; according to market research firm IBISWorld in Los Angeles.In terms of success rates, Buss said that with the right profile, users could meet someone within 30 days of signing up.“Nearly everyone is looking for someone and those who already have someone might be looking for another someone,” he said.He explained that although online dating is quite similar to social media, the two mediums continue to be separated by the definitive fact that online dating services are used to create romantic relationships whereas social media has a more general scope.“When people are looking for love or someone to meet, they don't go to social media because the vast majority of people there aren't looking to date,” said Buss.    Giles Fabris, chief executive officer of LookBetterOnline in Long Beach, Calif., explained that meeting someone in cyberspace has become “much more mainstream” and is no longer burdened by the stigma of years past.He explained that online dating services are designed to accommodate the ever-busy working American who does not have time to go out and meet people conventionally.  “With people working long hours, it’s difficult,” said Fabris. “Online dating allows people to meet people after work and for many, this is the best way to meet people.”Erika Ettin, owner of A Little Nudge in Brea, Calif., agreed with Fabris on the convenience factor.“It's a way to get the ball rolling without having to go out every night,” she said.Ettin explained that getting to know someone virtually continues to be the primary draw as it alleviates any anxiety that could arise when the couple meets.“You have stats on this person that you wouldn't get elsewhere, on social media or in person,” she said.However, Ettin has also warned her users about the risk of falling into an “e-lationship,” one that never develops into anything more than sending and receiving e-mails.“The point is that you never know whether you’ll have chemistry until you actually meet,” Ettin stated on her website. “No number of e-mails will change that.”According to Dating Sites Reviews, the online dating world is currently comprised of 3,898 services, about 2,500 of which are based in the U.S., and employs 7,376 people.Based on figures from DatingAdvice.com, some of the most popular services include Match.com in Dallas with 13.5 million members followed by eHarmony in Santa Monica, Calif. with 4.1 million, Zoosk in San Francisco with 3.8 million and ChristianMingle in Schaumburg, Ill. with 2.4 million. Within these figures, an average of 47 percent are male and an average of 52 percent are female.  

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