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In the same vein, e Harmony found itself last summer trying to explain how a 20 percent increase in registrations led to a 33 percent drop in traffic.

The numbers suggest that while singles in search of a match may post a profile, they're not finding who they're looking for.

Markus Frink created Plenty of Fish as a coding exercise in 2003.

Primarily supported by advertising, Frink this year introduced a paid membership level for users who are "serious," but the site still has free access.

How many marriages a day do Internet dating sites generate?

Last year, the Wall Street Journal tried to cut through the hype and found that the claims put forth by major players such as e Harmony, and Plenty of Fish were dubious at best.

If Facebook is letting its users figure out their interaction, the counterpoint is what's happening with paid dating sites: convergence, as a Journal charticle illustrated.

No one site is ever going to really break out of the pack.And really, when you consider the work that goes into building a dating profile -- and the fact that access depends on your continued monthly payments to Barry Diller's IAC -- it's also worth asking: Whither Facebook, and all the other free ways of meeting people online? What dating site allows you to keep closer tabs on your intended?And while paid dating sites tread user-base water, Facebook just added a net of 10 million new users last month.As Techcrunch notes, does most of its growing these days by buying competing Web sites, rather than reinventing the world's oldest dance.is also becoming Yahoo's official personals service, with the portal ditching its homegrown brand.Niche sites like J-date, for Jewish singles, may continue to bust out, but those are not the stuff that online empires are built out of.has claimed to advertisers that it sees a full audience turnover every 6 1/2 months, according to the rate card published by competitor Plenty of Fish.That means, as with peak oil, that while the same big sites might scuffle over an ever-declining user base, the days of paid online dating as a growth business seem numbered. Internet users have simply become comfortable with the idea of having online profiles more attached to their "real world" identity.So let the frantic scrambling for gasoline and girlfriends begin.And that means a woman can no longer pay to find him, either.Repeat that pattern enough times, and paid dating sites collapse. Even though the site is officially for social networking, come on.

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