Another week, another new study. This one from Vancouver where PHD candidate Cindy Masaro talks to women over 30 about their online dating history. As well as their sexual health histories.

It turns out that women over 35 may be feeling that instant spark when we start corresponding with someone online, and not doing or due diligence about who they are and whether there is something itchy that they may not be telling us about. I remind women to be careful about meting for the first time. Meet in public, google his name in advance, use an anonymous email address and be smart. What happens is that we have these artificial romances that blossom online before you meet, and you think you know this new object of your affection- without really knowing them.

Oxford University study in 2010, that found 30 per cent of people had used dating websites, and one in six people said they met their current partner online.

“There is that chemistry thing online,” said Cindy Masaro, a PhD candidate and nurse clinician at the STI/HIV clinic at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“I started seeing friends that were in these totally intimate relationships with people they’d never met before,” said Masaro, who is conducting a study on how digital technologies affect women’s dating experiences. Masaro’s study focuses on women over 30, which she says is an under-researched group.

The rapport and trust among dating partners who meet online may curtail negotiations about sexual safety when they meet in person, and increase the spread of STIs, Masaro says.

I tell people to be careful, bu not paranoid about STI’s. Careful means getting checked regularly, talking to a prospective partner about their sexual history, using latex, getting your hepatitis and HPV shots, and realizing that you should emphasize what I call “High School dating” at the beginning of a relationship. This means petting, kissing, touching, oral – anything else but ….intercourse. Even Health Canada says you can’t get AIDS from oral sex. Until you know this partner more than through a few emails, be a little guarded. It will keep you safe, sane, and scratch-free.