Lonely holiday hearts head online

AUSTRALIAN dating websites are preparing for a surge in activity as singletons bow to familial pressure and go online in a bid to find Mr or Ms Right.

The first week of January is the busiest time of the year for the nation's matchmaking sites, with some expecting a 50 per cent increase in new registrations and a spike in activity among existing clients.

One reason is the number of people making new year's resolutions to find a new partner.

But ''irritating'' pressure from nagging relatives also plays a major role, as anyone who spent Christmas being grilled by granny about their relationship status knows all too well.

''Singles tend to use the Christmas period as a time to review, reflect and figure out what they want in a relationship,'' cupid.com's communications manager Sean Wood said. ''There's also family pressure at this time for singles as they ward off irritating relationship questions from family and friends at the Christmas dinner table.''

About one-in-20 Australians have used online dating as a way to meet prospective partners, according to eHarmony managing director Jason Chuck.

''We see a slight slowdown in registrations at Christmas, then a huge spike immediately after the holidays,'' he said. ''This is likely due to single Australians putting 'finding love' at the top of their new year's resolutions.

''Having extended family members at Christmas reunions nagging them about why they're still single is no doubt another motivating factor.''

EHarmony says its peak traffic will occur on January 1, with about 14,000 ''icebreakers'' exchanged between members.

RSVP, owned by Fairfax Media, agrees that early January will be its busiest period. ''The end of the Christmas break heralds a dramatic increase in online flirtation and 'kisses' sent between members,'' said RSVP's Jayne Andrews.

This story Lonely holiday hearts head online first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.