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Women put more stock in the virtual dating world because they seek a soul mate, he said, whereas men are typically after a more casual relationship.
It's not that familiarity always breeds contempt, the researchers say.
In one study, Frost, the MIT researcher, designed an online interface in which people meet for “virtual dates.” For instance, you and a prospective date would each play an avatar and wander through an art gallery together.
The scores given to pre-dates were much higher than those for post-dates.
And the perceived degree of similarity between participants and dates also took a dive after face-to-face encounters. Online profiles inherently provide limited pictures of people, a level of vagueness that is fuel, Norton said, for love-seeking imaginations.
Though it’s nowhere near an in-person encounter, Norton said you can get a feel for whether the person is funny or a good listener.
“People also will use their avatars to flirt so you can go a little closer or a little farther away,” Norton said.