Small but effective: more than half a dozen websites now compete with each other to help French-speaking customers make friends in a Christian spirit. French sociologists view the development with mixed feelings.
27-year-old Astrid from the Paris area is looking for someone who shares the same values as she does. Robert, 51, from the French Mediterranean coast, values family life and describes himself as serious, balanced and attentive. Marie-Claire from the French West has been painting icons and seeking spiritual exchange since 2003. They all advertise on a French Christian partnership site on the Internet. www.theotokos.fr, where Astrid, Robert and Marie-Claire advertise themselves, currently counts about 70.000 registered members, of which 15.000 active subscribers. It is thus one of the big ones among the small ones. By comparison, the dating market leader "Meetic", which is not fixed on a specific clientele, advertises with about 42 million profiles throughout Europe and allegedly counts about 700.000 subscribers.
By mouse-click the acknowledgment of a "Christian charter
The Christian partnership sides stress freely, with them the chances on a long-term firm partnership are largest. Theotokos and www.mariage-chretien.fr declared to "La Croix" that they had each endowed about 50 marriages. "Mariage chretien" is particularly meticulous about anchoring itself in the Christian value system. The website requires, at the click of a mouse, the acceptance of a "Christian charter," with which one makes, among other things, a profession of faith and ares to live publicly and privately according to the principles of the New Testament. On other sites like www.sanctusraphael.com, users can even go into detail. Closer to the Jesuits or to the traditionalists? One click is enough to filter out partners of the same inner-church lineage. French sociologists view the development with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they warn that the individual parts of society are increasingly isolating themselves from each other. In fact, there are also Jewish or Muslim dating profile sites on the Internet. On the other hand, they concede that in view of the limited choice, the chances of success are greater with the smaller dating sites. Age, eye color and "going to the movies" as a hobby are not always the points of contact on which to build a stable relationship. In addition, many female users of major dating sites were disappointed because the men at the meeting were only interested in a brief flirtation and nothing serious.
Clergyman warns against expecting too much
Of course: Father Luc Ravel, a French clergyman and organizer of retreats for the unmarried, warns against too much hope. The common religious affiliation as a criterion also does not guarantee that the partnership will succeed. First, even on the Christian websites, the profiles only showed the image that someone wants to give of themselves. Second, he said, even in relationships initiated through the Internet, as in real life, it remains crucial how seriously someone wants to commit to a new partnership. And thirdly, church law nowhere requires that one must necessarily marry someone of the same denomination. Although the user numbers seem marginal compared to the millions on "Meetic" or "Netclub": The big players take the competition seriously. Meetic spokeswoman Stephanie Buret-Cruiziat acknowledges anereknnend that the small ones sometimes embodied more authentically the claim to seriousness. Meetic has already reacted. An offshoot increasingly relies on personality tests, which include questions about attitudes toward values, to match suitable profiles to each other.