The History of Online Dating From 1695 to Now - Deepstash
The History of Online Dating From 1695 to Now

The History of Online Dating From 1695 to Now


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The History of Online Dating From 1695 to Now

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Online Dating: A History

Online dating didn’t really begin with the advent of the internet.

The need to communicate to other human beings for love, companionship and sex goes back centuries, with each new technology opening up further avenues and fresh ways to reach out.


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With the advent of the modern newspaper in 1690, it took a mere five years for the first personal ads to appear in Britain.

One of the very first personal ads was from a 30-year-old man who was seeking young women with a good personal fortune.


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LGBT communities took to the discreet personal ads, as homosexuality was banned in the UK till as late as 1967.

The 1700s saw the first ads with coded words, female names as an attempt to find companionship, forbidden by society.


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Englishwoman Helen Morrison, who placed an innocent personal ad in 1727 in the local newspaper, was sent to an asylum for four weeks, as it was insane at the time for women to seek companionship.


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  • Aristocrats caught on the personal ad trend and started broadcasting their often bizarre desires to the general public.
  • The matrimonial ad, where a potential husband or wife was sought, was looked down upon initially, but as specific magazines and periodicals focusing on matrimony gained traction, the normalization of the personal ad seeking bride or groom started happening.
  • Looking at the popularity of the personal ad, making scam artists started preying on the vulnerability of the people who were seeking companionship and love.


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  • The rural parts of America started making use of personal ads for matrimony.
  • Lonely soldiers of WWI sought pen pals using these ads, giving rise to the friendship ads, the whole personal ads trend went mainstream.
  • The ‘Lonely Hearts’ trend invited prosecution from the British police, due to its suspicious nature.
  • The internet gave rise to online dating with the world’s first computer date-matching service invented in 1965, where for $3 one could find a match by answering a questionnaire.


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Newsgroups and Bulletin Board Services (BBS) gave rise to the second wave of personal ads, with America Online (AOL), Prodigy and later Craigslist providing avenues to singles looking to find companionship. was founded in 1997, and in a decade online dating became a top-grossing paid service on the internet.


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  • It is ubiquitous and many social media sites are personal ads in disguise.
  • Specialized dating sites exist for every orientation, religion, place and race.
  • This also makes stumbling upon someone who exists outside the preference bubble harder than before.


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