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Betty Boo 5 braves the online world of internet dating in her search for Mr Right

Do you ever have the feeling that you are a single fish swimming in a sea of married fish? In the old days, energetic single people would have met on club trips. But with tramping club membership in decline what are the options for fit singles nowadays?

In this technological age, you needn’t leave the comfort of your lounge to at least run a short-listing exercise of suitable candidates via the internet. Of course, everyone I know who is in a long term relationship considers internet dating as very seedy for someone as wholesome as me to be even considering. But media research can’t be seedy, can it?  

A Google search on internet dating opens up a Pandora’s Box of opportunity. I decided to pick a couple of the sites specifically aimed at the fitness market.

The first site I looked at was FitnessSingles.com, which attracted me with their by-line: ‘Where good sports meet good sorts’ – slightly better than one other site I didn’t pursue that promised members could ‘Connect with millions of women and hook up tonight’. Wow, but not my cup of tea.

Fitnesssingles.com is an international site but includes New Zealand. I didn’t receive a response to my query about the number of New Zealand members, but a scan of the listing does seem to indicate a healthy number, mainly from Auckland.

The next step involved loading your profile, for free, including information about what sort of relationship you are looking for. I noticed that there wasn’t a category for ‘support crew’, which, after reading some of the profiles, I thought looked a likely demand. The site’s search engine only lets you break it down to all of New Zealand, but will categorise based on sporting activities.

As with all dating sites you can express an interest in someone by sending them a personal message from a thoughtfully prepared dropdown list. If anyone sends you a message, an enticing little ‘you have mail’ icon flashes.

Ah, but crunch time, you can’t open the message without subscribing to membership (between US$15-$30/month depending on the duration you sign up for. The site looked to have lots of energetic outdoor types but the standard categories all relate to your personal details and what sport you are into. There is no attempt to delve into what motivates and inspires you. There is, however, a text box which allows you to express yourself in your own words rhough you’d be surprised at how many took this opportunity to say ‘Email me for details’. Not what I would call tantalising.

The second site I looked at was Sportzdating.co.nz. This looked a likely spot, but I wasn’t able to load my profile and I can only assume their support service must all be busy hooking up because I didn’t get a response to my enquiries for assistance.

The third site I tried was TradeMe’s Findsomeone.co.nz. This is a New Zealand site and seems to have a wide membership base but is not specifically for fitness-driven singles.

The search engine works on geographic region, which is helpful, and the questionnaire delves into ‘lifestyle’ and ‘thoughts’. From there you can read through people’s interests to find things in common. This site is cheaper than the others as free membership allows you to receive and reply to messages, meaning only one of you needs to be a ‘Gold Member’ for a monthly fee of $21.

One of the things I found intriguing about this site is the categories relating to sexism and racism. I couldn’t find any sexists or racists among the members which leads me to conclude that people with those personality traits must be better able to maintain relationships and don’t need the services of online dating sites.

All of these dating sites come with handy tips, success stories and safety advice. Going tramping and doing other outdoor pursuits are great ways to get to know people, but a hike to an isolated spot is not the ideal time to first learn about the new buddy’s knife fetish.

Postscript: Under duress from the Editor I’ve been pushed for a ‘So how did you go?’ I got to know a few nice people. A cup of coffee was usually enough to know if you felt like hitting the hills together. Then I did find someone to play with. Setting out on our first adventure I could hear the sage advice of my friend ringing in my ears: “Take a board game along in case you run out of things to talk about.” However, running out of conversation is unlikely for this chap.

The second date involved the getting-to-know-you-better experiences of unplanned deep snow immersion, beating an emergency retreat off the tops and night navigation through the bush. So far so good and yes, I’d say internet dating is worth a crack.

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