By Cara Sulieman
MOST of Britain’s singles are turning to the internet in search of a partner, a survey has revealed.
Seven out of ten (68 per cent) of first dates find each other on the world wide web, and as a result have to spend more time preparing for their first encounter.
And although only one in five first dates leads to a relationship, singletons across the country are spending more and more time on them.
In 2008, eight million singletons went on 18 million first dates, clocking up an average of 360 million loved-up hours between them.
The survey identifies five distinct parts of a first date, starting with the moment when cursors meet across the web.
Women were found to be the most cautious, with a quarter (22 per cent) of them spending more than 10 hours checking out their date before they agree to meet.
With the dangers of internet prowlers constantly hitting the headlines, it is a sensible move from the lovelorn surfers.
Once the date is organised, men and women both spend almost five hours (4 hrs 45 mins) fantasising about their date.
Imagining the other person in the flesh, chatting to friends about the event and playing out potential conversations occupies more than eight hours of one in five of women’s time.
On the other hand, one in five men spend less than an hour daydreaming about the future date.
The survey, by internet dating site PARSHIP.co.uk, didn’t find any surprises when it came to pre-date preening.
Unsurprisingly, two thirds (71 per cent) of female singletons groom themselves for up to three hours before the big date, whereas men average just less than two hours (1 hr 50 mins).
Although relationship experts state that first dates should be short and sweet, Brits devote four hours to that initial encounter.
And one in ten men have had dates that extended to a whopping nine hours.
Once the date is over singles start to forget the other person, with almost half (42 per cent) spending less than two hours going over the date in their head.
Psychiatrist Dr Victoria Lukats merits the internet with the survey’s results.
She said: “The prominence of internet dating as a method of meeting people naturally leads to a slightly longer process as it then becomes like the first meeting and first date rolled into one – most people need to feel fairly sure they’re not wasting their time on a first date, so they want to get to know the person first.”
However, there was one part of the results that surprised the psychiatrist.
She added: “It was striking to find that on average, men spend more time afterwards, thinking about and analysing the date – or at least they are more willing to admit to it.
“One explanation could be that traditionally the onus is on men to make the next move after a first date by phoning to arrange the next date. Clearly, this will take some thought and preparation and for many people, the apprehension can be more nerve wracking that the date itself.”