You must be desperate to sign up to one of those online dating services, surely. A social failure, forced to turn to a computer for help in finding a mate because you're just too unattractive/incompetent to find one by normal means. In short, a loser. After all, the whole process is humiliating, starting with the penning of your own ad. Summing yourself up (indeed, trying to sell yourself like a used item on eBay) in a few choice white lies and coded abbreviations is hard ('good-looking' or 'very good-looking'?), though 'George Clooney lookalike with GSOH and mega paypacket' should do the trick. Then there's the photo - steal a pic of Pierce Brosnan or dig out a rejuvenating 10-year-old holiday snap? Follow this with the nail-biting wait for an e-mail response. Surely there's a limit to how much your fragile self-esteem can take? But away with such cynicism. Judging by the figures, online dating has shed its cringe factor and become an unexpected success, a phenomenon embraced by some six million Britons under the age of 55. Match.com and DatingDirect.com are popular sites, cashing in on changing social trends by which perfectly sane, attractive professionals in their thirties or forties suddenly find themselves single. Longer working hours, increasing divorce rates and the inevitable diminishing circle of available friends have created a pool of well-heeled, urbane singletons who, short on time, are smart enough to maximise their chances in love. St Valentine would be pleased.