A decade ago, online dating wasn’t taken seriously. It was thought only “losers” tried to date online. Now, in 2012, you can’t turn on the television or visit your favorite web site without seeing ad after ad for dating sites like Match.com and EHarmony. Online dating is no longer looked down upon because in today’s world because so many people just don’t have time to find Mr. or Mrs. Right on their own. But can you really find your soul mate on dating sites? And are they worth the time and money? The Hard Facts In 2011, 25 million people used online dating sites. Of all the couples who got together between 2007 and 2009, 22 percent met on the internet. Also, between the years 2009 and 2010, 17 percent of the couples who got married say they met online. Obviously, real people are dating online and in many cases, it works. They may not all be lawyers or plastic surgeons, but there’s a chance you could really meet someone you relate to. However, the online dating industry isn’t perfect. An astounding 81 percent of dating site users lie about their height, weight or age. Also, the amount of married couples that met online also hasn’t significantly increased since 2006, even though the amount of users has increased. Big Money One thing is for sure, the creators behind these dating sites are not poor! Christian Mingle made 12.7 million dollars in only one quarter in 2011. Zoosk earns $90 million a year. The big players, Match.com and Chemistry.com, both made 105.2 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2011. Is this a business of love or greed? As long as the users’ best interest is kept in mind, there is no shame in these companies’ success. If you want to pay to have access to the largest and most popular dating sites available, there’s nothing wrong with that either. If you aren’t willing to pay, there are also small-scale, free online dating sites available like OKCupid and Singlesnet. Who Should Date Online? Online dating is not for everyone. It usually costs money, it takes time, and it is not always successful. For some people, though, it is a great way to meet new people. If you are constantly busy with work or simply hate the bar and club scene, it can be hard to meet someone. Also, if you are shy, it’s nice to be able to start online instead of approaching someone in person. When you date online, you have the opportunity to learn about hundreds of people, and you can choose to only talk to those you are truly interested in. When you go into a relationship knowing you both have the same end in mind, it can take the guesswork out of dating. If you’ve got the time and the money, dating online could be a good option for you. Just remember not everything people post online is true, and not every date will lead to a marriage.