The bleak side of high-tech love

Lately Logging Off has been inundated with stories about how technology can sometimes cause the sweetest of relationships to turn sour. Here are our three top picks for your perusal, but it’s up to you to decide whether technology promotes or ruins true love.

Reunion sites encourage divorce?

One U.K.-based relationship counseling service claims Web sites that help reunite old flames are inadvertently causing divorce rates in the country to skyrocket.

Relate, the largest provider of relationship guidance and sex therapy in Britain, recently said long hours at work and easy access to the Internet are giving unhappy husbands and wives a chance to start trawling for new love, rather than coming home and working out their marital problems.

The warnings came after a recent study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that divorce rates in England and Wales are the highest they’ve been since 1997. There were 153,490 divorces last year, an increase of 3.9 per cent since 2002, British newspaper The Guardian reported. This is the third year in a row that divorce rates went up since they fell back from 157,107 in 1996. The year with the highest divorce rate on record is 1993 with 165,018 marital breakups.

Access to the Internet was the newest factor causing the rise in extramarital relationship pursuits, according to Relate. The ONS reported that the divorce rate for men was highest in their early 30s, with 27.7 divorces per 1,000 married men between the ages of 30 and 34. The divorce rate among women peaked in the 25 to 29 age group, with 28.9 marriages out of 1,000 ending in divorce.

No room for hitched folks, a U.S. online dating service, has harsh words for married people skulking around the site with intentions of cheating on their spouses: don’t even think about it.

On its front page, if one clicks on the words “Married people will be prosecuted,” a window pops up that says, “Warning: Married people need not apply.”

The firm expands the admonition by letting visitors to the site know that if they are married and posing as single, they should be aware that they could be guilty of fraud and subject to civil and criminal penalties under federal and state law. “For each offense, Title 18, Section 1343 of the U.S. Code authorizes fines of up to (US) $250,000 and jail sentences of up to five years,” the message states.

The warning note includes the fact that has the right to report violators to law enforcement authorities, as well as seek prosecution or civil redress “to the fullest extent of the law.”

And the final message for anyone considering ignoring this counsel: “If you are married, please close your browser.”

Software encourages waywardness

There’s now a piece of software out there that is supposed to help men keep track of their love lives. Girlfriend X is a lot like a little black book — it records dates, plus saves individual profiles of everyone you’re seeing, including birthdays, leisure pursuits and occupations. Users can import photos and profiles from online dating sites using this software.

However, there’s more than meets the eye with this program. One of the more cold-hearted functions includes a “yield calculator” which determines whether the date is “worth it.” If she’s not, “the yield calculator will tell you to ditch her and move on,” says the Girlfriend X Web site.

The software offers another nifty function that helps remind a guy to avoid things like having dinner with a girl’s parents. It also helps ease “girlfriend juggling” when a guy is dating several girls at once. “Equipped with an excuse file, you will always have a way to back out or postpone, if the case need be,” the site says.

The software also enables private Web searches, and search histories are automatically deleted after each use. “This privacy means you can look at whenever you want, and no one will ever know,” says the site.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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