An earlier generation could have subscribed to dating sites but that is cliché now.

Nearly 21 percent of people who discovered their spouses online and got married between 2005 and 2012 met through social networking sites, a recent study has found.

"What is amazing is that this has basically happened without anyone really noticing," Jeff Hall, a University of Kansas expert on flirting styles, was quoted as saying in media reports.

"The idea that social networking - without anyone researching it or even paying attention to it - could be this important. I was very surprised," Hall added.

Potential lovers are finding each other on just about every online gathering place. What fascinates communication researchers is how social networks are able to connect potential lovers who circulate in similar worlds, with similar interests and backgrounds.

"On social networking sites, you are looking at very narrow criteria like physical appearance and age. You can diminish your quality of choices. As a consequence, you get to know people in a less contrived way. You get an accurate impression," Hall concluded in a Washington Post report.

(Agencies)           

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