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Hitwise: Dating site visits up pre-Valentine's Day

There are a lot of lonely people out there, and more of them are turning to the Web for dates than they have in recent years, according to the Web metrics firm.

Yeah, um, big surprise. The nauseating pink-and-red fever leading up to the holiday everyone loves to hate has resulted in higher traffic to dating sites, according to Web metrics firm Hitwise--and it's bigger than last year.

According to a Hitwise representative, dating site visits hit a peak shortly after the new year, presumably to fulfill those "get a girlfriend" resolutions or perhaps to deal with the aftermath of those awkward over-the-holidays breakups that seem to happen all too often. Traffic was back on the climb right before Valentine's Day, but Hitwise had not yet tabulated the days after February 9.

But the really interesting statistic is that visits to dating sites were up 26 percent in the week ending February 9 in comparison with the equivalent week in 2007, according to Hitwise. This suggests that the taboo associated with dating sites--my friends are still embarrassed to say they're using those sites to meet guys--is gradually going away.

At the top of the rankings was, followed by PlentyOfFish's high ranking may have something to do with the fact that it's a free site and therefore might draw the attention of people who are looking to score a quick V-Day date rather than make a lasting connection. Rounding out the top five were eHarmony, True, and Yahoo Personals.

What wasn't included: Craigslist personals and "missed connections." I'd like to see if the volume of posts skyrockets right before Valentine's Day.