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These observations have been borne out in a new study by social psychologists collaborating across the country.

She thought he was full of himself and rude during their first encounter.The industry has been successful, of course — and popular: while only 3% of Americans reported meeting their partners online in 2005, that figure had risen to 22% for heterosexual couples and 6% for same-sex couples by 2007-09.Digital dating is now the second most common way that couples get together, after meeting through friends.Most people cite attractiveness as key to a potential romantic connection when surveying profiles online, but once people meet face to face, it turns out that physical appeal doesn’t lead to more love connections for those who say it is an important factor than for those who say it isn’t.Once potential partners meet, in other words, other characteristics take precedence over the ones they thought were important.Offline, that kind of attraction would spark organically.

The authors of the study note that people are notoriously fickle about what’s important to them about potential dates.

You never know how things are going to evolve until they do.

But the benefit, she says, is that dating online gives you access to a lot more people than you’d ordinarily ever get to meet — and that’s how she connected with her future husband.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as profiles can help quickly weed out the obviously inappropriate or incompatible partners (who hasn’t wished for such a skip button on those disastrous real-life blind dates?

), but it also means that some of the pleasure of dating, and building a relationship by learning to like a person, is also diluted.

Online, that process is telescoped and front-loaded, packaged into a neat little digital profile, usually with an equally artificial video attached.