TORONTO Online dating renews women's hope in love and sex, but can be just as disappointing as the real-life dating scene, according to new Canadian research.
Susan Frohlick, an anthropology professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, says the women she surveyed gained a sense of empowerment from their online dating experiences.
But they still wanted the man to make the first move and expected him pick up the tab.
"Women are finding it as a useful tool to enter into the dating world, they find that it's safe, they find that they can be a little more bold than they would in face-to-face relationships," Frohlick said of her survey, which looks at how women over 30 view online dating.
"But, at the same time, they are experiencing frustration because it does seem that the Internet in many ways is just the same old bar scene."
Complaints include a preponderance of men who are looking for much younger women, as well as men who misrepresent their looks, interests or marital status, or who show little interest in moving the relationship offline, she said.
"There's not much of a difference between the virtual world and the real world," said Linda, 33, a Toronto professional who has used an online dating site on and off, three or four times for a few months each time.
"It's sad and equally as frustrating."
Linda says she knows it can work out, noting that a friend met her husband after spending more than two years on different Web sites, but she admits she's given up on the game.
"At least when you're in the bar, you know what they look like," she said, citing examples of meeting bald men whose profile pictures displayed a full head of hair.
"A lot more successful, attractive women are using these tools -- I don't think the men match up."
Lori Miller, a singles and dating expert for www.lavalife.com in Toronto, says dating via the Web can mimic the bar scene. But it also gives women the chance to approach and meet dozens of men while knowing a little something about them beforehand.
"You're literally thrown into the largest singles bar," she said. "It is a lot of work, it is the luck of the draw just like being in that coffee shop and meeting the one."
Frohlick's small survey, to be completed in April, is questioning up to 25 Canadian women about their online dating habits. She hopes it will become a pilot for a far larger survey of women across North America.
(Editing by Janet Guttsman)