By the time two people meet face-to-face, they may feel as though they've been seeing each other for a while.
Dan Ariely , a professor of behavioral economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the apparent contradiction doesn't surprise him.
People behave differently in the heat of the moment from when they plan ahead, he said.
"When somebody's sitting by their laptop at home and writing these sterile e-mails to each other, there's no sense of emotionality," he said.
"But when they meet and they get aroused, life changes." Among the general population, condom use with a new partner is more common, said Lawrence Finer, director of domestic research for the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on sex research. According to a survey by ABC News in 2004, 17 percent of women report having had sex on a first date, compared with 42 percent of men.
More than half of women under 30 use a condom when they first have sex with a new partner, Finer concluded after analyzing data from the U. Experts say women tend to underestimate those figures and men tend to overestimate.
Online dating, Padgett said, enables women to ignore men who don't make them feel safe or fit their standards.
Couples who meet online also can negotiate terms, such as condom use, or exchange sexual history that may be uncomfortable to discuss in person, Padgett said.
"You can disclose all this personal information without having the fear of rejection with the person right in front of you." For that reason, she said, intimacy may be accelerated in relationships that begin online.
Women who date online are likely to take precautions to protect their personal safety when first meeting a man face-to-face, but often are much less careful about protecting their sexual health once that encounter moves to the next level, a Houston-based study has found.