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Singles clicking online but not quite in real life

When it comes to checking out potential dates on social media, it appears that women try to gauge a man's personality while men just want to know if they can score a date.
Asia One - March 22, 2013
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Singles clicking online but not quite in real life

When it comes to checking out potential dates on social media, it appears that women try to gauge a man's personality while men just want to know if they can score a date.

A recent social experiment of 40 participants between the ages of 20 and 30 revealed that after viewing Facebook profile photos of possible partners, female participants then focused on the content the men shared.

But male participants zoomed in on the "About me" page next - where a woman's relationship status is stated.

Men tend to be more visually oriented and direct, explained Singapore Management University psychology professor Norman Li.

But women try to piece together a man's personality through more indirect cues, such as the news items or photos he shares.

"Women are evaluating relationships for long-term potential. It's somebody they have to trust and know," Prof Li said.

The experiment was carried out as part of Social Media Week Singapore 2013, a tech conference held last month.

Yet for many singles, it seems the more information they can glean about each other online, the less incentive there is to meet right away.

"(Facebook) has definitely made stalking a person you admire more efficient and no longer requires you to be physically on their tail," said Ms Neo Yuann Shan, 24, an area sales executive.

Yet couples who rendezvous over Facebook posts and instant messages on WhatsApp are taking weeks, sometimes even months, to eventually meet - a trend that is worrying, say dating experts.

They say keeping a relationship online for too long may be detrimental to long-term prospects.

Often, things are hyper-exaggerated on the web, said Prof Li.

"They might end up building fantasies about each other, and when they finally meet, things just fall apart," said Ms Violet Lim, co-founder of dating agency Lunch Actually and online dating site Eteract. Knowing too much about someone before meeting also takes the initial excitement out of a first date, she added.

Experts all say online interaction may be a good way for some to break the ice, but it is also important to make personal contact to build a sustained relationship.

For Mr Cedric Lim, old-school offline dating is still a must. Said the 25-year-old student: "A real man calls a woman out for dates using the public phone under a street lamp next to her block."

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