By Denise Schipani
Time was, if you met your mate online, you developed a cover story: If anyone asked, you'd say you met in a bar or at kayaking lessons. Not anymore. Whether it's the fact that many of us already conduct so much of our personal and business lives online, or the proliferation of online dating sites touting their successful matches, it's perfectly acceptable to say, with pride, that you met the love of your life with your fingers on a keyboard, not wrapped around a cocktail at a singles event. Here, five women who found their mate (or were found) online, and went from email to walking down the aisle:
Anna & Sam Abma, Wycoff, New Jersey
A divorced mother, Anna, 46, looked into the future and saw a time when her kids wouldn't need her around quite as much-and she'd end up alone. Joining eHarmony, which matches couples based on a detailed personality questionnaire, says Anna, "was my backup in case I didn't meet anyone the 'regular' way." It took six months of being matched with other eHarmony members before she met Sam. "His profile struck a chord-he was very spiritual, for one thing, which was important to me." Those other matches had interested her, but fizzled once they got past initial communication. Not so with Sam-whom she agreed to make a date with after six weeks of emails and hour-long phone calls. The reality rattled her. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is a real man, not just an email!'" Panicked, she put the brakes on. For all of a week! Six months later, Anna and Sam were engaged; they got married in April 2010.
Lesson learned: Keep expectations low; it can take a while to find a match. Even with a system like eHarmony, whose detailed matching process saved her from "kissing a lot of frogs," you still have to feel that chemistry.
Check out our beginner's guide to online dating for profile tips, first date ideas and more.
Tonya & Frank Ferrari, Lake Stephens, Washington
Tonya, 34, was a classic online-dating skeptic, but when her parents pleaded with her to try-and offered to pay for six months on eHarmony.com, she relented-though she bargained it down to three months. "I thought, 'What the heck, it's not like I'm going to meet the love of my life!'" says Tonya, who had been married before (and has a 12-year-old daughter). Meanwhile, Frank, 41, a lifelong bachelor, had been online for a year on different match-up sites. Within a few weeks, Tonya was matched with Frank, and they began exchanging emails, at least one a day for a few weeks. "By the time we actually met, I felt like I knew him pretty well already-he was so expressive in his messages." Then they met-on a first date that lasted nine hours. "We both came away from the date thinking the other was so serious," laughs Tonya. "We talked about everything from religion to children to death." A second date was lighter in tone; the couple went go-karting. Their main impression was that they couldn't believe the other actually existed, that it was like a dream they'd soon wake up from. "It's actually hard to realize that, yes, there really is someone out there who is so good for me-so smart, so funny. He's never let me down. We're just so stinkin' happy." They married 18 months later, and are now expecting their first child together.
Lesson learned: Let go of your skepticism. You might think that it's impossible to find a perfect match, but they're out there. "And if you're serious, use a serious site, like eHarmony," says Tonya. "It's great, but it's not for nonchalant daters!"
Crissy & Mark Baldwin, Boonton, New Jersey
The first time Crissy, 32, talked to her husband, Mark, she knew this was the man she'd marry. "He was hysterically funny, and I loved his voice," says Crissy, who's currently expecting the couple's fourth child (she has a son from a previous relationship, and Mark, a widower, has two sons). The couple met on eHarmony after a friend persuaded her to sign up, believing it was the best way for a busy single mom to meet a mate. But even though their early email matchup went smoothly, and they began dating quickly, their brand-new relationship was tested when Crissy's dad became very ill. "I was much more emotionally needy than I would have been otherwise," admits Crissy. But in a way, she says, her father's illness made her approach to the relationship more stripped down. "I was like, 'I don't have time to play games.'" Mark was right there with her through the worst of it. "I met Mark in December 2007, we moved in together in February 2008, and my father died that March," she says. They got married in November 2009.
Lesson learned: "Be open to the fact that you'll meet people online whom you may not have given a second glance if you saw in a bar," says Crissy. And enjoy the fact that you can explore each other's personalities online before meeting in the flesh.
Rebecca Braverman & Ryan Olson, Los Angeles
Rebecca, now 34, had left New York City for her hometown of Kansas City, Kansas, in her late 20s. Not up on the hometown dating scene, she decided to sign on to Spring Street Singles, a site that aggregated personal ads from various media outlets, such as Salon.com and TheOnion.com. "I just wanted to meet people, go out and have fun," she says. But after a while, her initial approach of putting up a profile and waiting for guys to find her seemed too passive, and she began doing some searching of her own. And up popped Ryan's profile. "A couple of things caught my eye, says Rebecca. "In a list of five things he said he couldn't live without were live music and a Wüsthof knife. I thought, OK, he knows his way around a kitchen, and at the very least maybe we can see some bands together." She got in touch and, lo and behold, it turned out that Ryan had seen her profile some time back but decided not to contact her. "He said I looked corporate and businessy in the picture because I was wearing a suit. But I wasn't! I just had on a blazer and jeans" (which goes to show that a photo can be deceiving). The two went to a live show to see a band they both liked perform, and the rest was history: Rebecca moved in with Ryan three months later, and they got married in October 2007.
Lesson learned: Though most online daters spend a lot of time corresponding by email before meeting, Rebecca disagrees: "You run the risk, intentionally or not, of creating these online personas that aren't really you. If you like each other, set a date to meet." (Just be safe: Meet in a public place, bring a cell phone and be sure someone else knows where you are.)
Keren Bernard and Peter Mannes, Brooklyn, New York
Keren Bernard, 35, signed on to the dating website JDate (which matches Jewish singles) mostly for fun back in 2005. "A friend of mine was on it, and it was free back then, so I figured why not? It seemed like another way to meet people, like going to a bar." In her first three months, she met one man who seemed, by his profile, to be ideal: artistic, smart, with a career that dovetailed with Keren's (she's an interior designer), and with similar likes and dislikes. "Then we met. He was a total psycho! There were all these things he wouldn't do, like eat after 8 p.m., and after our first date he sent all these weird emails. I started thinking, 'This is the Internet! Everyone's crazy!'" But then she got an email from Peter. "He seemed so eloquent and sweet-just a nice, Jewish boy." The pair met for their first date in a bookstore. "He was standing near one of my favorite architecture books. And we went out to eat at my favorite Japanese restaurant," says Keren. Within a couple of months, they were traveling to Atlanta to meet Peter's family. In October 2006, they headed to City Hall to get married for the first time-repeating the nuptials in May 2007, "with a rabbi and all our family and friends." Still in Brooklyn, the couple has a 2-year-old daughter.
Lesson learned: If you're thinking of Internet dating, do it. Says Keren, "The lifestyles we all lead these days mean we're always online, so it's more natural. It's just another way to put yourself out there."
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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