Many county singles meet their match online
Kie Relyea, The Bellingham Herald
Who needs Cupid this
Valentine's Day when you've got Match.com, SawYouAtSinai.com and, yes, even
Because love in the age of the Internet is all about shooting your own arrows,
much like Bellingham residents Christina Winters and Sue Aufhauser are doing.
They're part of the estimated 50 million U.S. singles who are logging on to
"The market is so big and it's just been exploding," notes Nelson Rodriguez,
chief executive officer of LoveAccess.com, which has more than 1.3 million
This is Winter's second foray into online dating. The 29-year-old single mom
first tried cyber dating in 2000 following a divorce.
"My first experience was kind of horrific. I met a gentleman from Georgia and
he decided to hop a bus and come out to see me. He ended up having a lot of
emotional issues and he was a compulsive liar," she recalls.
So she was wary. But after ending a relationship of three years, and realizing
she didn't leave her home much while caring for her disabled mother, Winters
decided in January to try again.
"I felt funny the first time because it was still a little taboo. Now, it's
just another way to meet people," says Winters, a laid-off administrative
Winters first tried finding a match on veggiedate.com, then switched to the
larger Match.com, which has 8 million members. "This time, I have met some very
nice people. I've gone out on a couple of dates. One was just pleasant, no
sparks or anything," she says, adding that she has since met a nice man who
she's been seeing for a couple of weeks.
Who's looking for love online?
"Everybody. Most users are between the ages of 20-45, but the fastest growing
group is baby boomers," says Lisa Daily, an online dating expert and author of
"Stop Getting Dumped!"
And while the big players like Match.com and Yahoo personals still dominate,
others are carving out niches based on ethnicity -VietSingle.com and
BlackPlanet.com are the top Asian and black sites respectively - pet people and
even political leanings.
The lefty-leaning Act forlove.com's 1 million personals are geared toward
activists, for example, while Conservativematch.com helps those searching for
"sweethearts not bleeding hearts."
Meanwhile, SawYouAtSinai.com is geared toward Jews while LDSPromise.com seeks
to unite single Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Both are geared toward serious-minded seekers of love.
SawYouAtSinai.com, for example, pairs members with matchmakers who select
potential dates for them based on specific criteria. Gone are the days of
having everyone's info wide open on the Internet, at least on this site.
Founder Marc Goldmann says his site, which has more than 8,000 members,
harnesses the global scale of the Internet while adding a human element - a
matchmaker who checks into people's backgrounds to make sure everything is on
the up and up.
"It's a backlash against the online concept of having everybody be behind the
scenes and not really knowing who you're dealing with," Goldmann explains.
He plans to create similar sites for other communities that have traditionally
used matchmakers, such as Koreans and Indians.
Lynn Scoresby, a couples and family therapist, also plans to launch additional
sites using concepts he created for LD SPromise.com. That includes an in-depth
compatibility test that looks at areas such as how someone expresses emotions
to how someone sets up life goals.
"We provide the compatibility and you provide the chemistry. And we hope
commitment will result," Scoresby says.
Others also are going beyond the traditional online dating approach of clicking
on photos and profiles.
LoveAccess.com's Rodriguez says his was one of the first sites to integrate
instant messaging. Then he added video and audio messaging along with 30-second
video profiles. Now, industry experts are looking at going mobile.
All of which should help searchers like Bellingham's Aufhauser, a 45-year-old
"I resisted it for years, thinking I'd meet the perfect person," she says.
But she hasn't, especially after moving to a new town and being wrapped up in
starting her own business.
Plus, she doesn't drink and she doesn't go to bars. And her social activities
often include events popular with other women, further decreasing her chances
of meeting men.
So, she started searching on Match.com this summer.
"It can be fun. It can be very time-consuming. But you can get out of it what
you put into it. I haven't met my love online yet. I know people do," Aufhauser
"I always thought I'd meet someone the old-fashioned way," she adds. "Today,
the Internet is an old-fashioned way, or so I've been told."
Reach Kie Relyea at
715-2234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.