Are you looking for a date or a penpal?

Having notched up my 100th post on dating.org.uk this week, I can safely say I’m beginning to get an insight into how the online dating industry works. There are many dating sites – thousands, in fact – ranging from free dating services to paid membership sites; and when I say ‘paid’, I’m talking serious wedge, as in some of the top city high-fliers pay more per month for their dating site membership than I take home as a writer.

One of the most curious aspects I have found is that many people, especially on UK dating sites where we live in a tiny little country compared with the Australias, Africas and US States of this world, are satisfied with leaving their dating in an online status. In larger countries, you could understand why people who have genuine feelings for each other can never actually meet in person.

Take Africa, for example. Yes, it is the home of 419 fraud but there is a thriving online dating community there, too. Just imagine if you were living in Senegal, as one of the capital, Dakar’s, 2M+ population. You’re at home one night, the view out into the Atlantic’s not inspiring enough for you so you pop the laptop open and get onto Afrikadating.com or Africadarlings.com. Instant success, you happen to start up a relationship up with an attractive single in Khartoum.

A quick look at the map and you think – okay, same latitude, run along the border of Mauritania for a bit, skip through Mali, Niger and Chad and, Bob’s your uncle, you’re in the Sudan. Then you look at the scale of the map and realise that, to ever meet up with this potential partner pining for this tropical love affair, you’re gonna have to travel 3,000 miles.

Apathetic UK daters won’t put in the miles

Most Brits don’t even go that far for a holiday, so that far for one date? It would have to be an extra special person to get you shelling out for that, let alone sacrificing at least three days of your life for. And, let’s face it – with the current investigations into fraudsters from North Africa scamming millions from US and Europe dating site communities, you could understand a level of apprehension in taking on such a project.

But, come on. In the UK, even if you live at South-West/North-East extremities, you could take a plane at Newquay, have a night out in London while the plane stops at Gatwick, nip up to Aberdeen the following morning, spend the day with your date, fly back down to the capital, have a day’s shopping and be back in Cornwall in time for tea.

So why are UK daters content, even when paying for their membership, to utilise dating sites like they would a penpal’s site when you can literally be anywhere and back in little more than a day? Has the UK lost its explorer gene that helped sovereignty create the biggest empire the world has ever known? If anyone has the answer to this dating site conundrum, I’d love to hear from you.