Internet sites tend to favor older singles, many of whom turn to the technology after a divorce or traditional forms of courtship have failed, Cocks said.
"Someone from an Irish radio station asked me whether the essence of all Internet dating ads was ' Loser seeks Winner,'" he said, "but I think those opinions are really those of younger people, [such as] those under 30 who see no need for Internet dating.
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Internet dating is just the modern version of the first "matrimonial" agencies of the 1700s, which helped lonely bachelors search for wives through printed ads, said author H. Cocks, a history lecturer at the University of Nottingham, UK.
In between, the social acceptance of personals has waxed and waned with the times.
Being single passed the age of 21 was considered almost shameful in that era, and the ads were often a last resort for the men who advertised and the women who read them.
If a match resulted, it is unlikely that you boasted the fact to your friends, Cocks said.