Once thought to be taboo, online dating has become a “natural” way for people to connect.
If you are to believe a popular matchmaking commercial, one in five people now find romance online. There are nearly 13,800 companies engaged in online dating and matchmaking, according to market researcher IBSWorld. Match.com reported 1.8 million subscribers during the quarter that ended in December, an increase of 30 percent from the same time in 2009. E-harmony.com claims more than 33 million registered users in 192 countries.
With fast internet connections, more understanding of social networking sites and wider acceptance, some Three Villagers are turning to online sites to find their potential mates.
Vito from Three Village was divorced 12 years when he met Denise on Match.com. He had difficulty meeting women who were Catholic and spiritual in character. He was ready to give up his membership but decided to update his profile before leaving – by adding his "last book read." He put down Life of Padre Pio.
Denise had only been on for one month and her free trial was about to end. Not satisfied with her success, she didn't plan on extending her membership, but looked through the profiles again. Vito had come up on her searches but “he was looking for someone 55 to 65 and I was 53 so I never reached out to him," she said.
Denise’s last search brought up Vito’s name again, but this time she noticed something different – the book. “I hadn’t seen that before and decided to write to him,” Denise said.
They emailed back and forth and he suggested they meet for dinner. It was the little things about Vito during that first date, like taking out a white handkerchief to blot his nose that she admired. Twenty minutes in, Denise’s daughter called to give her an out if it wasn’t going according to plan. But it was. They dated for 17 months and got engaged when Vito’s 90-year-old mother pressured them to get married. On February 15, 2007 they got married at and had dinner for 30 at the in Stony Brook.
Of course, not all matches go that well. Mary from Stony Brook reluctantly joined a dating site where her son and his girlfriend gave her a hard time for posting an unflattering picture of herself. Unflattering or not, she immediately started receiving emails from interested parties and accepted an invitation to meet for drinks. Despite looking compatible online, she found that she had nothing in common with the gentleman.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said. She doesn’t know if she will give it another try, although her son did take a beautiful picture of her that he wants her to use if she does.
Lewis of Setauket joined a couple of dating sites because he was interested in casual dating but didn’t have the time to meet women. After dating many women, he was surprised to meet someone he wouldn’t have dated had he met her offline. They talked online for six months before Jane agreed to meet him. They dated casually but continued to have deep meaningful conversations online. Before he knew it, he had fallen in love.
“I didn’t believe in soul mates, but she was mine,” he said, adding, "I will always love her.” They've been together for seven years.
Laura of Stony Brook joined on a whim. She didn’t go to bars and didn’t know where to go to meet men, and it had been two and a half years since her husband had died. She was checking e-mails when she saw a sidebar advertisement. She didn’t put a lot of thought into it “or I wouldn’t have done it,” she said.
The responses started coming in the next day. Some of them, she said, you wouldn’t want to meet.
When asked what her criteria was, Laura said, “I just read their profiles, and if it seemed like they had things in common with me and lived within 50 miles, that’s how I judged them.” She said the pictures posted were not as important as what they said in their profiles, but some had pictures that were not inviting.
Mike contacted her, and they exchanged e-mails for a week before talking on the phone. After a month of phone calls, they agreed to a date and have been dating ever since.
“We had so much in common," she said. "We both married young, grew up in the city, were the same age and had the same values.”
Laura freely tells people how they met.
“About a third of people are surprised, a third are worried and a third say ‘that’s how people meet now,’” she said.