I've got a number of friends and acquaintances who share my feelings about the way online dating plays fast and loose with your emotions.These people are relatively undamaged and sane, without many skeletons in their cupboards.Those words of wisdom still apply, and particularly so if you're one of those participating in the seemingly eternal worry-go-round of internet dating.The adverts for such services, featuring blissfully happy couples pushing each other on swings, would have us believe otherwise.Some of them are model-like in their beauty, rapier-like in their wit or both.
Sixteen years later Phil Collins concurred: "You just have to wait," he sang, additionally noting that love don't come easy.
The search for love in any context is a lottery, of course. What are the chances of two compatible people turning up in the same place at the same time?
Internet dating is meant to tip those odds in our favour – and it can work, of course it can.
Yes, anecdotes of hair-raising internet dates have become dinner-party staples – you know, like "he turned up wearing a toolbelt and immediately burst into tears" – and many were collected in a book published earlier this year. The plunge in self-esteem when your ideal partner remains as elusive as a taxi on New Year's Eve?
A quick disclosure: I have a couple of dating profiles online. But this isn't therapy masquerading as a self-pitying article by some bloke in his late-thirties – well, not much, anyway.But the people I've spoken to who've been bruised by it are unanimous as to why that happened. Adam: "It's blackly comic: we all say we're fun-loving, up for a laugh, just seeing how things go – when everyone knows that we're all on a dating site because, to varying extents, we're lonely." Internet dating pivots around profiles; lists of attributes, paragraphs where you attempt to make yourself sound appealing, a handful of flattering photographs. Dozens of books and websites offer advice on how to write profiles; third-party services even charge 40 quid to save you the bother. Everyone loves travelling, particularly to Machu Picchu – which, if the profiles are to be believed, is an Inca site swarming with thousands of backpacking singletons. All of us love to curl up on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a DVD (or a VD, as one unfortunately misspelled profile said).