Why online dating will never take over

People often change their romantic preferences once they meet a prospective partner in person, new research has found. Investigators from Northwestern University and Texas A&M University discovered the ideals individuals think they like about others can fall by the wayside when they come face-to-face.

Paul Eastwick, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Texas A&M University - which has a history stretching back to the 1860s - noted those looking for love often have a list of abstract qualities they are searching for in a partner.

However, these characteristics tend to become quite flexible once they meet someone in the flesh.

Co-author Alice Eagly stated: "Thinking about this or that feature of a person apart from taking the whole person into account doesn't predict actual attraction."

Eli Finkel, another researcher involved in the study, observed people are not simply the average of their traits, explaining knowing somebody is ambitious and sexy does not reveal that person's true nature.

Marc Hekster, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "People meet online and on social networking websites for very different reasons as to why they meet in person. 

"When a person meets someone online they are not necessarily meeting with another person, however they are meeting with the image of another person that they create in their mind. This image is created by a wish they have within themselves of what they would like another person to be like. 

"This image is projected onto the other individual and in this way the individual can become anyone they wish them to be. This is the other individual's allocated online persona. 

"When the two individuals meet in real life they may find that they share very different preferences, as now the romantic or relational experience is based on two separate and real lives, rather than one mind projecting itself onto an image of an individual on a screen.

"This might explain why when people develop relationships in person, the nature of the developing relationship is structurally very different to how the relationship develops when it is an online relationship which later becomes real."