The internet is now officially the most popular way for gay men and women to find a date.

Research has shown that 87% of gay men and 58% of lesbians have used the internet to find a prospective partner in the past 12 months.

But over the same period only 18% of men and 27% of women have had a serious relationship, suggesting that finding the right partner is like finding a needle in a haystack.

That doesn’t mean the gay community isn’t trying, or that they have given up on the fairy-tale ending of living happily ever after in a civil partnership.

The research carried out by found that 47% of gay men and 41% of gay women are actively looking for a serious long-term relationship, compared to just 16% and 18% respectively looking for casual flings.

Dr Victoria Lukats, psychiatrist and relationships expert, puts paid to the myth that you have to be promiscuous to be gay:

“Our research finally dispels flawed stereotypical assumptions that gay men and women are less likely to want to form a serious relationship.”

But gay people have been working hard at meeting someone.

Over the past 12 months 71% of gay men and women have visited a chat room or registered with an online dating site, while 47% have placed or responded to a personal ad.

A further 12% had joined a more traditional dating agency.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, all this activity hides a penchant for pessimism.

When questioned further, two thirds of people who are looking for something more serious – that’s 72% of gay men and 59% of gay women – said they often doubted they would ever find someone.

So what’s holding the gay community back from finding someone special?

Nearly a third (29%) of gay men and women admitted that high standards and excessive expectations were proving a barrier, while a further 32% claimed they just didn’t attract the right people.

But the biggest barrier to meeting someone is shyness, cited by 42% of gay men and 29% of women.

Overall 87% said they like to flirt, but fear of rejection prevented them from making the first move.

Trust issues are also a big factor, as 32% have been hurt in a previous relationship. and 21% put it down to a pressured career leaving little time for the pursuit of love.

The research questioned 1,000 adults over the age of 18 on their attitudes and experiences of dating.