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Sex

A tale of tweet romance: Gen-Y dating scene shifts to social media

Dean and Fiona met on Twitter. They've been together for 2.5 years and have been living together for one.
The evolution of online dating has seen it go from a desperate last resort, to an acceptable activity with some stigma attached, to just about the only option among Australian singles. But to Gen-Y, setting up an RSVP profile is no longer desperate or shameful, it's just passe — Twitter is where it's at.
The nation's most popular dating site, RSVP, claims responsibility for one in ten Australian marriages, but digital dating is now becoming more competitive with more singles looking to social media to find love.
Aussie actress Teresa Palmer's relationship with US actor/director Mark Webber is categorised as "oh-so-new-age" by the Daily Telegraph because the couples met on Twitter, but they're not the only ones.
Sydney couple Fiona and Dean have been together for two and a half years, and have Twitter to thank for their romance.
"It was kind of love at first sight," says Fiona, 27, who was introduced to her 26-year-old boyfriend by a 'mutual acquaintance' they'd each only met once.
"And we keep trying to work out if we would have met otherwise and I actually don't think we have."
After packing up her life and moving interstate, Fiona contacted Dean on Twitter to ask for bar recommendations.
Understandably, he was hesitant to get chatting with a girl he hardly knew, but three months of 'Twitter flirting' gave the now de facto couple time to get to know each other and eventually meeting each other after months of preliminary tweeting.
"If I hadn't had that opportunity to kind of see into his personality, to realise he was a really great guy, I think I might have met him and brushed him off if we had just met out or something," she says.
"It's not like online dating where you're setting out to impress someone. On Twitter you just see what they're like and how they interact with other people. It's a good insight into who they are."
Relationships Australia counsellor Kylie Dunjey is seeing more and more couples who meet through social media, and says it's almost becoming 'the norm'.
Unlike traditional online dating, Ms Dunjey says social media gives people a chance to do "a bit more checking out" and get to know more about one another through the way they interact with friends on their pages.
"Meeting on Facebook is almost like meeting in a friend's lounge room," she says.
"There is usually a connection, a friend has introduced you, and it's less controlled than say an online dating profile."
Even so, Ms Dunjey says it's important single's realise their potential dates are still controlling their image.
"I think Twitter would be put in the same category of online ways of promoting self where we act as PR people for ourselves where we create an identity that we think it going to be our best look," she says, and warns those looking for love in which ever corner of the internet to be mindful of the security risks.
When Fiona went to meet Dean at the store he was working at in Bondi almost three years ago, she made a friend come with her, and figured it was ok because he was at work so "he couldn't murder me", if he did turn out to be a freak.
Now that they've been living together for one year, the only problem they have with the unconventional way in which they met is the questions it raises from less tech-savvy friends.
"I think people always sound surprised. Some think it's cute, but people who don't use Twitter think it's weird, but they think Twitter's weird in general."

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