Internet dating has taken an elitist turn
Internet dating used to be fairly cut-and-dry. A woman likes "evenings in with a DVD and a bottle of wine"; a man likes "long walks on the beach with my dog".
They admire each other's photos, initiate contact and within a few days they're sitting in front of each other in a restaurant, wondering if it's appropriate to just order a drink and flee into the night.
That's all changing, though, as a new wave of niche dating sites are taking over the internet. Whatever your preference -- rich men, smart men, beautiful men -- you'll find a dating site that delivers.
Take new US dating site ScientificMatch.com. No, it's not for amorous lab technicians. The site tests its members' DNA, based on the premise that genetically well matched people like each other's natural scents, have more fun in bed and bear healthier children.
Members of the site forego the traditional routines of internet dating -- rummaging out old photographs and penning euphuistic character descriptions -- and instead swab their cheeks and send in a saliva sample.
Another recent arrival to the internet dating arena is IntelligentPeople.com, an unashamedly elitist website for those who value brains in a potential partner. Would-be members must pass an IQ test.
Elsewhere, there's DarwinDating.com, "online dating for beautiful people only". "Sick of dating websites filled with ugly, unattractive, desperate fatsos? We are," exclaims the website, where prospective members have to be voted in by those already initiated.
If you value cash over dash, there's MillionaireMatch.com.
Those who are willing to make the age-old trade-off might prefer RichOrBeautiful.com, as the name suggests.
Recovering alcoholics can check out SoberandSingle.com; animal lovers can log onto DateMyPet.com (where they can also hook up their four-legged friends) and those with a penchant for body art can find their creative match on TatooLovers.com.
The phrase "internet dating" is complete with connotations, a lot of them negative. Yet, one of its gleaming positives is that it's supposed to be accessible, prescriptive and, well, easier -- to get laid, that is.
This new wave of dating website reckons being specific increases dating success. Actually, all they're doing is lazily matching like with like.
Would we sanction this behaviour in the "real" dating world? Imagine, a nightclub that you have to pass an IQ test to enter; or a bar where only the tattooed can drink.
There's a worryingly elitist element creeping into what's supposed to be an egalitarian process, and, despite the intentions, it's only making the dating arena more difficult to navigate.