Kathryn's Blog: We Love Love Stories

How honesty gets you everything

Now, talk about an up-front and honest profile: He described himself honestly as a smoker with 11 children (ages 8 to 29) from two previous marriages. And he hadn’t cut his hair in 13 years.  And he STILL got the girl.

Elopement wraps up romance with a bow
By Joe Blundo

BERLIN, Ohio—Keeping marriage plans secret isn’t easy when the bride and groom have 15 inquisitive offspring between them.

Arlene Essinger and Kenny Link, both 49, got it done by eloping this month to a cabin in Amish country.

She wore a cranberry-colored dress and a wreath of roses in her hair. He wore his “dress sneakers.” A minister they’d met just minutes before pronounced them husband and wife, they kissed, and that was that.

It was a relief, the new Mrs. Link said.

“I don’t have to dance around questions my family keeps asking me.”

Their trip to Berlin, about 90 miles northeast of Columbus in Holmes County, had raised plenty of suspicions among relatives.

The Links confirmed them when they broke the news of their marriage to about 30 gathered for a cookout the weekend after the elopement.

“They thought it was an engagement party,” Mrs. Link said. “A couple of family thought it was going to be a wedding.

“So, after a while, everybody got over the initial shock, and I think we all had a good time.”

The couple’s elopement marked the culmination of a three-year romance that began online.

Mr. Link, a Mechanicsburg factory worker who believes in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach, ran a Yahoo! personal ad that softened no edges: He described himself honestly as a smoker with 11 children (ages 8 to 29) from two previous marriages.

The ad included a photo showing his hair, which hadn’t been cut in 13 years.

A mother of four (ages 16 to 30) who was living in Marysville, Essinger had recently divorced after 27 years of marriage. She initially considered Mr. Link more of an adviser than a romantic interest.

They chatted online for three months, with him schooling her on the Internet dating scene. His savvy and helpfulness impressed her.

“He’s a very intelligent man,” she said.

They met in person and began dating. Eventually, he cut his hair, although whose idea that was remains a he-said/she-said issue.

Mr. Link, an Air Force veteran, calls himself a “radical conservative”; he’s both anti-war and anti-tax. His new wife said she doesn’t agree with all of his views but she’s learning a lot.

She isn’t a person with strong political opinions or a penchant for speaking out.

They have other things in common, though.

Mr. Link had adopted four children; Essinger, two. He plays the piano; she’s a part-time music director at Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church in Columbus. She wanted the freedom to pursue her goals; he encouraged her.

Mr. Link isn’t big on formality: He once wore a cardboard tie to a relative’s wedding. So an elopement suited him, although he insisted that the religious ceremony be preceded by a private commitment at which no one else would be present.

“There’s a plethora of symbols in our lives that mean nothing,” he said. “I don’t require a ceremony, but I will acquiesce if that’s what Arlene wants.”

He not only acquiesced but also made her a headpiece of roses and pipe cleaners for the service. And he hummed Wedding March as she made her bridal walk from the side door of their rented cabin to a patio where the minister waited.

The Rev. David Stutzman of Sugarcreek conducted a simple service in which he compared marriage to wine:

“My prayer for both of you is: Just like good wine that’s been sealed and tastes better with age, so will your marriage be.”

They exchanged rings, and the union became official.

“I’m not singing the recessional,” Mr. Link joked afterward.

The couple have different goals: Mr. Link, a Cleveland native, wants to retire from his job in two years and spend one baseball season as an usher at Indians games; then he wants to do service work, perhaps in a hospital. Mrs. Link, who recently completed a vocal-music degree at Capital University in Bexley with a minor in journalism, would like to work as a copy editor.

They’ve promised each other that in marriage they will continue the approach Mr. Link took in his personal ad: Be honest and speak plainly.

Which explains his cleanshaven face.

She asked him to remove a few days’ worth of stubble before the wedding.

“And I believe I said it plainly.”


The Over 45’s are getting married for the first time…

This article below is a bit misnamed, because it’s about singles who have never been married before meeting up and marrying when they are over 45, not about singles over 45 finding love.  We know that the over-45’s have been finding love, but it is interesting to see that older never-marrieds are saying the vows.  I have viewed never marrieds over 45 or 50 with some suspicion, particularly if the proposed partner has been coupled or married before.  Long time singles have not had the chance to learn what is only possible to learn when you are grappling with a real partner in real time and space.  I suppose if neither partner has been married or attached before, then they are on fairly similar footing (little relationship experience).  The positives are that career concerns, money, and the question of children are pretty much decided by then.  What do you think?

More singles finding love after age 45


When she was still single in her 40s, Debra Siegel made a list of qualities for her yet-elusive perfect husband: honest, family-oriented, a hard worker and physically fit.

But the years passed and the list went unfulfilled.

“When I hit 50, the bells went off,” she says. “I didn’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.”

That’s when she took what she calls “drastic action.” Her future husband, Dan Furlin, was of a similar mind.

“I didn’t think marriage was in the picture for me,” he says. “Once you hit 50, you don’t want to go through the rest of life without your soul mate. I was a little bit more aggressive.”

Both went the online dating route and met within months. The Dunedin, Fla., couple are both fitness-conscious and vegetarian. They were also both natives of New York state, and each had lived in Los Angeles. They moved to Florida — Furlin to Clearwater and Siegel to Orlando — before meeting online. They married in 2003.

Siegel-Furlin, 56, and Furlin, 58, are among a small but growing group of older adults marrying for the first time after age 45. Years ago, these older singles would have been known as the “spinster” neighbor or the confirmed “bachelor” friend.

But now, longer life spans mean 50 is the new 30 — there’s plenty of life ahead.

That, coupled with the baby boomer “never-wanna-be-old” attitude and a greater number of aging singles in the population, makes it more likely that those who want to marry actually will.

A USA TODAY analysis of Census records of Americans ages 45-55 shows that the percentage of those who said they had never been married in 2006 had doubled since 1990, and the percentage of those who were currently married had dropped by 9 percent.

It’s fairly difficult to get a real handle on this segment of the singles population because no federal entity tracks first marriages at specific ages. The closest count is the median age at first marriage, which in 2006 (the latest year for which data are available) was at its highest point: men at 27.5 and women at 25.5, according to the U.S. Census.

A tally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is available just for a 20-year period, 1970 to 1990, shows that in 1990, only 0.4 percent of women and 0.6 percent of men married for the first time at ages 45 to 49.

According to the most recent data from the federal Survey of Income and Program Participation, which includes marriage, 13 percent of those who wed in 2003 were 45 and older.

Internet dating has largely made it possible for many of these later-life first marriages. It’s only in recent years that some sites have started monitoring that demographic.

Among them is Yahoo Personals, based in Santa Clara, Calif., which reports a 33 percent increase from January 2006 to November 2007 among users ages 45 and over who say they have never been married.

Since 2005, Match.com reports an increase of almost 10 percent of new members 45 and older and who have never been married; these now make up almost 14 percent of its members.

New patterns, new people

“As people get older, they tend to find themselves in fairly established patterns, so the ability to meet new people goes down over time. They’ve got to do something new if they want to meet different people,” says Craig Wax of Dallas, senior vice president and general manager for Match.com for North America.

Brian Lebowitz, 57, and Lise Goldman, 53, were married earlier this month. They met online almost two years ago and found out at the time that they lived within blocks of each other. Lebowitz, an attorney, lives in Washington, D.C. Goldman, who works in economic development, now lives in suburban Chevy Chase, Md.

Lebowitz says his job and his hobby as a book collector took up most of his free time. But when he turned 55, he decided to give online dating a shot.

“I’d pretty much given up, but then thought I would give it a try and see what it was like,” he says. “Some people — myself included — would be more comfortable starting off communication by e-mail rather than going up to somebody at a party. It’s a less threatening way to go about it.”

Goldman says she always wanted to be married. She had been engaged twice — once in her mid-20s and again more than a decade ago — but she says it just wasn’t right until she met Lebowitz, whom she says is intelligent and kindhearted.

“There are wonderful people still out there who are hiding away in their work,” she says. “He’s an international lawyer, so he needs to work evenings a lot. That’s been one of the blessings that kept him away from the dating scene.”

Dating Web sites have been reinventing themselves since online dating took off in the mid-1990s. They’ve refined their methods, largely emphasizing a more scientific approach, which often includes compatibility and personality testing.

Others have focused on niche marketing, including Spark Networks, whose online dating sites include JDate for Jewish singles, as well as CatholicMingle.com, InterracialSingles.net, BlackSingles.com, LatinSinglesConnection.com and PrimeSingles.net. That site, as well as lavalifePRIME and BOOMj.com, is among those offering social networking for these older singles.


Find a real clown to marry on Jdate

Who says that all you meet on line is a bunch of clowns?  Here’s a real clown and his bride who met on Jdate.com and whose wedding made the 4/13 New York Times “Vows” write up.  Now the REALLY interesting part is that this is the second wedding in a month that the NYT has featured couples who met on the Net.  Both have little videos accompanying write ups on the net.  Here’s the one about Stephanie and Adam, and here’s the link to the video about Diane and Philip.  I think that both couples met on Jdate, so if you are looking for a Jewish partner, clown or no clown, Jdate seems to be hopping.

April 13, 2008
Stephanie Schwab and Adam Gertsacov

MIDGE and Madge were not invited to the wedding in Yonkers on April 5. Stephanie Schwab, the bride, claimed to be jealous of those extraordinarily petite showgirls who had traveled the globe with her betrothed.

“He coos at them, and speaks to them in very, very soft tones,” she said.

So Adam Gertsacov, 43, agreed to leave his famous fleas at home, along with his velvet top hat and red-white-and-green shoes. His clown nose was allowed only for prewedding photos, but Ms. Schwab joyfully wore one, too. They succeeded admirably in maneuvering into an ardent kiss beneath the bright red snouts.

Marrying a clown is no run-of-the-mill thing. Mr. Gertsacov is the owner of the Acme Miniature Flea Circus. His stars, Midge and Madge, each dwarfed by the period at the end of this sentence, are said to perform feats like pulling chariots or walking a high wire.

Audiences pretty much have to take Mr. Gertsacov’s word for all this. He uses a magnifying glass to provide the play-by-play, and only the props are visible. So how did Ms. Schwab, 40, a brainy vice president of Converseon, a marketing agency in Manhattan, someone who holds an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois, end up marrying a graduate of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College who sometimes performs as a giant bumblebee?

Blame the Internet. In 2004, each was prowling a dating site. Mr. Gertsacov, of Rhode Island, traveled continuously and was open to meeting somebody nice from anywhere. Ms. Schwab, of New York, emphatically did not want another long-distance relationship.

And then there were the photos Mr. Gertsacov displayed of himself. One was a graphic blowup of an eye. She wondered if the possible artiness outweighed the obvious goofiness.

She consented to a phone call, and soon they were having “these wonderful conversations late into the night.” Over coffee in New York they “instantly connected,” she said. Soon, he was in New York almost every weekend.

He handled the inevitable career questions gradually. He first said he was a performing artist; then a creator of original comic shows; and, finally, someone who presented “popular theatrical traditions.” Only when she seemed “firmly on the hook,” he said, did he disclose the flea-bitten fabric of those heralded traditions.

She liked his intelligence and creativity, and his apparent ability to profit from his passions. “He wasn’t a lawyer, he wasn’t a consultant; it was refreshing,” she said.

Vaudeville, she thought, was exactly the kind of thing her parents would get a kick out of. And at the wedding, her father, Steven Schwab of Chicago, an owner of a business there that makes baking products for children, exuded, “There will be humor in their life forever.”

Mr. Gertsacov said: “I think she may have presented herself as more bohemian than she actually is. Which is O.K. I’m bohemian enough for both of us.”

Ms. Schwab, who had two previous marriages, once used $120,000 of her own money to start a company called Erotigo, to bring pornography to hand-held computers. It was featured in BusinessWeek, but after Sept. 11 she failed to attract the investors she needed. “It was a wild ride, really fun,” she said.

Mr. Gertsacov, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned a master’s in theater and communications from Rhode Island College, claims he is the most educated clown in America — “barring certain elected officials.”

They bought a house in Yonkers two and a half years ago, became active in a synagogue and began to talk around the topic of marriage. Talk became plans five months ago, when Ms. Schwab became pregnant. Mr. Gertsacov’s mother, Karel, was unconscious and near death last December when he told her that he was engaged. “Her eyes fluttered,” he said, adding that her death soon afterward contributed to him wanting a sense of familial continuity.

The magic came together at the Roosevelt Ballroom in Yonkers, a classically inspired hall visited by both Presidents Roosevelt. The wedding invitation — in orange, a color with which Mr. Gertsacov is obsessed — announced the occasion as “A colossal combination that is sure to amaze & delight for generations to come.”

The bride was radiant in a gown that had been twice altered to meet the exigencies of pregnancy. The bridegroom only once upstaged their rabbi, Jason Nevarez. Mr. Gertsacov could not help himself from doing an elaborate pantomime with his prayer shawl. Wedding rings were extracted from a Cracker Jack box.

At the reception guests shared their talents, from juggling to rope tricks to what seemed deliberately lame humor. There was a life-size dog puppet who scratched the audience’s fancy with bon mots about fleas.

Then, as a klezmer combo shifted into high, the couple glided across the shimmering dance floor. A singer crooned the lovely, inevitable lyrics of Cole Porter:

“Birds do it, bees do it,

Even educated fleas do it.

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.”


7 Years ago today

March 31, 2001, was the day that Drew and I got married.  We met three years earlier, so our 10th anniversary of our first meeting on Match.com is coming up fast, in May.  Here’s one of my favorite pictures from our wedding:
We’ve shared so much life together in 10 years that it seems like we have known each other much longer than that, but also, the time has passed quickly. 


You don’t have to be a “10” to find love, even after 50

If you are over 40 and don’t think that that online dating “works,” take a look at the piece below, the “Vows" section of the Sunday New York Times, March 23. Diane Cole and Philip Barnett found each other on JDate in 2002.  Now 55 and 61 respectively, they had each been married and widowed.  If you can still access the Times article, take a look at the little video that accompanies the write-up.  It’s sweet, but you’ll get to see that these are two ordinary people with an extraordinary story. 

You’ll also get a perspective on the experience of a 50ish widower on a dating site: These guys are pretty popular.  Just like pretty women under 35, single men, particularly those who are widowed or divorced, are desirable commodities.  Older men who have been married tend to like being so, and will go about getting themselves married again in pretty short order.  As Philip says in the video, there are many more widows than widowers, so even though ideally, men and women should have some time between a divorce or death and a remarriage, these folks are good risks, since they are experienced at being coupled and want to do it again. 

Diane Cole and Philip Barnett

WHEN an armed band of American Muslim militants invaded several buildings in Washington on March 9, 1977, Diane Cole, then 24, became one of more than 100 hostages. The gunmen threatened to decapitate captives before she and the others were released 39 hours later.

As Ms. Cole sat in fear, pondering her fate, Philip Barnett was in Spring Valley, N.Y., and unable to sleep; his wife’s uncle was also one of the hostages. He recently recalled how he had wondered about the others being held, and how he had prayed for all of them. Dr. Barnett, now 61, would eventually come to know Ms. Cole, 55, but only after they both found themselves widowed and alone after long marriages.

Even before those frightening hours in Washington, Ms. Cole, who became an author and a contributing editor for U.S. News & World Report, had been tempered by heartbreak. Her first husband, Peter Baida, nearly died of cancer while they were dating as students at Harvard. As Mr. Baida fought for his life, her mother died of cancer. From that crucible came her 1992 memoir, “After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges.”

That book ended on a note of optimism. Yet for a living memoirist, there are always new chapters. When Mr. Baida died in 1999, he left her with a 10-year-old son, Edward, and a message: grief should not trump joy.

“All the things she has endured could have crushed someone with less fortitude and spirit,” her cousin Judy Rousuck said. It was two years before she was ready to “move away from the cold terrain of grief,” Ms. Cole said. “I wanted warming up. I wanted romance.”

She turned to the Web, but men she encountered were filled with bitterness about past relationships. “I needed someone who spoke in tones less bitter and more sweet,” she said.

When she saw Dr. Barnett’s online profile in April 2002, she sent him an e-mail message. In his response, he offered understanding, noting that his own son and daughter were grown when his wife, Sarah, died, whereas Ms. Cole was left to fend for a young child. He also explained he was busily fielding e-mail from other women. “I never had such attention,” he wrote. “I married the only girl I ever dated, and the only one who really spoke to me.”

Nevertheless, they began an e-mail exchange that uncovered that both had longstanding interests in baseball, classical music and Jewish philosophy. But when she offered her phone number, he replied, “I feel more comfortable writing rather than speaking.”

In that same exchange he again mentioned the long list of women, but then dangled encouragement. “Few of these women are as interesting as you are,” he wrote.

In May they agreed to meet for dinner on the Upper East Side. For her, it was “comfort at first sight,” she said. Before parting she gave him a copy of her memoir, which Dr. Barnett, a professor and science reference librarian at City College in Manhattan, stayed up into that night reading.

They started seeing each other regularly, sometimes with Edward. Ms. Cole was touched by Dr. Barnett’s “sweetness, honesty, modesty and sense of humor, not to mention his intellectual curiosity,” she recalled. Comfort and healing grew to love, leading the three of them to take trips to Iceland and Norway.

“Diane has a big heart; we’re so compatible,” Dr. Barnett said. “She teaches me Shakespeare. I teach her science. I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again, and I am.”

Last summer they decided to marry. Explaining the timing, Ms. Cole said: “As a mother, my priority was to see my son settled into college life. And then we decided it was time for us to move into the next phase of our lives, too.”

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld led the couple’s ceremony at Bayard’s in Manhattan’s financial district, a party space in a 19th-century mansion that is filled with nautical accents. Ms. Cole, in an off-white cream satin Escada gown with gold sequin straps, stood with Dr. Barnett under the wedding canopy, bringing together past and present for their future.

The parents of her late husband sat up front as Ms. Cole, who wears their son’s wedding band on her right hand, held out a forefinger, on which Dr. Barnett placed the band once worn by her late mother. (The Baidas refer to Dr. Barnett as “their new son-in-law.”) The bride then gave Dr. Barnett a wedding band, one from his first marriage.

“Although many people already thought of us as an old married couple, we wanted to affirm in public our love for each other and this unexpected happiness in our lives,” the bride said before the March 9 ceremony, which happened to fall 31 years after the siege in Washington. “Now I can reframe the anniversary from one of terror to one of joy.”


Love despite a disastrous first date

This is an absolutely WONDERFUL story about and online hookup that worked, despite all indications to the contrary.  Note that this was the author’s first date, it got off to an abysmal start, yet somehow, it worked.  It’s a good testimony for hanging in beyond first impressions.

My cyber valentine Click this link to see a picture of Ann Schmidt-Fogarty and her now-husband
The computer and chemistry created an online love match
By Ann Schmidt-Fogarty/Reporter Correspondent

It was my first date in 10 years and he was 30 minutes late. “Not good,” I muttered to myself as I tried to look dignified, worldly and at home in the middle of a bustling Indian restaurant while feeling as conspicuous as a neon sign screaming, “Blind date reject!”

Sympathetic glances from my waiter told me he saw all the bright, flashing lights.

While waiting, I cursed myself for going on an Internet date with a man I had never seen. He e-mailed me and said he was 67. He added that he was intrigued that I was 17 years younger. And my tardy date didn’t give me a clue as to what he looked like, describing himself as “average.’

However, I also noted that he had lived and worked all over the world, and that intrigued me. His James Bond-like voice over the phone piqued my interest as well.

But, of course, now reality was setting in and every older, pot-bellied and badly balding man who bumbled into the restaurant increased my intense regret.

What was I doing? Didn’t I have a happy life without a man? What if the guy walks with a shuffle, taped-together glasses and needs a bib during dinner? Don’t serial killers disguise themselves as “average”?

Five more minutes and I’m outta here.

I had flashbacks to exactly why I decided to try this kind of dating in the first place. I was a busy public relations executive in Sacramento who never had time to do much more than TV and take-out after work. And I was reasonably happy with that. But, during a weekend stay with my younger sister, I heard a bit of hard truth. She had strong, uncharitable words about my lifestyle.

“You’re getting weird,” she told me gravely.

“I think you need to make your personal life ‘bigger.’ So I want you to do me a favor,” she continued. “Try to go out on a few dates and have a little fun. And, if you try the Internet thing, I will too.”

Seeing it more as a sisterly project than a real effort to find companionship, I got online and gave it a whirl.

According to the most recent online dating statistics, consumers have spent well over $300 million annually on paid personals and Internet dating sites. And countless commercials by services such as eHarmony and Match.com make it more and more socially acceptable to give it a try.

And I fit the Internet profile. Older Americans are among the fastest-growing segment of the online dating scene. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, millions from 50- to 65-plus are seeking permanent valentines through personals sites.

A long questionnaire asked me everything from my feelings about the outdoors (I like cities) to the level of my devotion to housekeeping (or my lack thereof). Food, attitudes about gender and even thoughts about world events were part of the survey, as well as attitudes about money, the arts and my temperament. About 45 minutes after I completed the survey, the information was tabulated and the “matches” popped up. Thus, I became a potential Internet dater.

And my “match” finally arrived after being caught in traffic. He didn’t look a thing like an older James Bond. Not at first, anyway.

In walked an advertisement for ironing boards and crafty barbers. Wrinkled, tussled and, yet, charmingly apologetic, Wilson Fogarty sat across from me, cocked his head, smiled, took my hands in his and uttered words that I repeat back to him to this day.

“You bite your nails,” he said dreamily. Looking at his over-laundered red polo shirt and unfashionable ice blue shorts, I answered, cleverly, “So?”

The date went downhill from there. Ordering every Indian delicacy known to man, Wilson happily tucked into a meal fit for three kings and all their concubines. With the table groaning from the weight of the food, and his habit of eating “Indian-style” (with his hands), I tried to ignore the incredulous glances from our neighbors and I silently practiced my early excuses to leave the restaurant: a sick bird, a phony bleeding ulcer or maybe a suicidal neighbor who needed checking on.

I am not really able to tell you precisely what transpired in the weeks, months and years following that date. I can only say it didn’t have much to do with computers and statistics. Or maybe it did. People often comment about our chemistry, and who am I to say that we don’t have the 29 points of compatibility that our online service advertises?

It’s that intangible thing that most of us want - a certain alchemy that, if we’re lucky, we get to experience once or twice in our lifetimes.

We proposed to each other and got married in 2006 at Fairfield City Hall. He catered our reception. Curiously, no Indian food was involved.

And, as corny as it sounds, in certain lighting, I’ve been noticing that Wilson bears a remarkable resemblance to James Bond.

• Ann Schmidt-Fogarty is a public relations consultant in Vacaville. Ann’s sister, Mary, also found love on the Internet at almost exactly the same time. 


Cybercourting and Endurance

A couple of months ago, Drew and I started to get the New York Times delivered to our doorstep on Sunday morning, not an easy feat in Tallahassee in a brand new neighborhood that even Mapquest has trouble finding.  It felt like such a luxury—not only our paltry Tallahassee Democrat for slow Sunday mornings, but also the New York Times, and we didn’t even have to go to Starbucks to get it.  I make a perfectly acceptable skinny latte right in my own kitchen.

I particularly enjoy the NYT Magazine, and that’s what I started with this morning, leafing through it, though not reading (except for The Ethicist, who sometimes I agree with and sometimes I don’t).  I’d go back to read later...but, the last page “Lives” got me:  How could it not?  The title was “Cybercourting.” That’s my bidness, as they say in the South.  Here is Laurie Kasparian’s description of her online dating experience and the payoff for hanging in there:


NYT 2/10.2008


“O.K.,” I told my best friend, “there’s this guy online I think I have to go out with.” It wasn’t said with the enthusiasm of one who finds love at first sight over the Internet. It was with a sigh, more than a modicum of dread and the appropriate amount of resignation that I admitted this to her, my happily married friend who found it all too easy to urge me to “get out there” and date.

I was 55, 15 years divorced, and this Internet campaign took all the pluck I could possibly muster. But all the other avenues had dried up — blind dates, volunteer groups, classes, professional contacts (bars were never an option). The site I used would send me matches, and all I had to do was read about them and “start communication” or “close” them out. Mostly I closed — square-dancers, Fess Parker fans, TV-fishing-show hosts and fathers of three preteens. But once in a great while someone came along who had no zapworthy traits.

I was a year into the search when this particular guy came along: Steve. It wasn’t that he sounded like the love of my life; it was that I could find no valid reason to reject him. My friend kept me very honest about this. She was in favor of kissing every single frog, and I dutifully ran my matches past her for a second screening. Steve, she enthusiastically agreed, had potential, and I knew what I had to do — “start communication.”

Our initial online interchanges went well. Steve asked what I thought the three most important qualities of a lasting marriage were, and I waxed eloquent on two of them, then gave up trying to impress him and just blurted out the third, “a killer sex life.” He told me his sons were both voted “best hair” in high school. “I am so proud,” he quipped. “They have worked so hard.” Questions and answers flew across the ether. But our schedules prevented us from meeting, so instead we moved up to the phone. Nightly calls lengthened to three hours and more as we hungered for and found common experiences and intimacy and trust. This was heady. But we still hadn’t met. We had the online photos, and we quizzed each other on our looks, but I wasn’t sure I would be attracted to him in person.

On the day we finally had our first date, I was having a major case of the vapors. My anxiety would settle for a moment, and then the thought of our meeting would set it off again. He seemed just as nervous. We each had mentioned that we had sensitive stomachs, so when he said, “You know we won’t go out to eat,” it didn’t sound as if he was cheap or weird.

Our rendezvous was at a bookstore in Newport Beach. I was to find my favorite book, and he was to find me. Was this cheesy or romantic? More troublesome was what book to pick. I did not want to be pretentious, superficial or predictable. I finally went with my true choice, “The Sound and the Fury.” I love its tale of the disintegration of a family in the South, and I especially love one line in the appendix, in which Faulkner gives all manner of family history. When it comes to the black family servants, he merely says of them all, “They endured.” It always touched me.

I nervously stood, book in hand, awaiting Steve’s arrival. I finally sat down in the aisle, leaned against the books, read lazily. I would see his sneakers approaching first, I thought. Finally they did. I looked up, saw what I felt was an old friend, jumped up and gave him a little hug. “Are you nervous?” he asked. “Not anymore,” I replied. “Me, either,” he said. “Let’s see what you picked.” I showed him the book. He took it in his hand. “Good choice,” he said. “Isn’t this the book that ends with something like ‘they endured’?”

We took the ferry across Newport Harbor, walked along the strand, talking and stealing glances. He didn’t look much like the picture. He was clearly older, decidedly heavier. Different glasses. We finally did decide to eat, and shared pictures of our kids as we did. It was clear he loved his children heart and soul. I liked that. Still, he seemed rather shy and stiff. Our phone calls had become very intimate, yet he steered clear of any intimacy now. I could tell he liked me, even though he did not smile much. I felt uncertain.

On the way back across the ferry, we were silent for the first time that night. He hadn’t touched me at all. Sitting side by side, I impulsively leaned against him, shoulder to shoulder, and stayed there. It was comfortable, and I felt him relax. “How many people do you have to call tonight to tell about our date?” he casually asked. I counted up in my head: “Nine.” “Great,” he said, “the Supreme Court.” As we parted, he turned to me and said, “Thanks for the lean.” I smiled and realized bargains are made in an instant. For my part, I could see I had to start rearranging the old furniture in my head to make room for this strangely familiar stranger. Three years later, we endure.

Laurie Kasparian is a high-school English teacher in Irvine, Calif. 


Lots of love stories, in time for Valentine’s Day

These stories below are from the comments section attached to the article in the NYT that I wrote about in my previous posting.  Really, I could have copies dozens and dozens of wonderful stories that folks posted about meeting their Sweeties online.  What a testimony for the wonderful tool of the Internet and dating sites.  I stopped scanning about posting #80, and there were 210 when I was writing this post.  See below for the stories of people for whom looking for love online WORKS!

My husband and I met 4 and a half years ago using eHarmony and we can’t say enough good things about them! We both found the matchmaking approach to be preferable to the select-a-partner approach in that we had a lot in common at the outset and it wasn’t based purely on physical chemistry. We are highly compatible with enough differences to keep it interesting. We have recommended eHarmony to friends and family who are interested in finding partners and will continue to do so because we believe it works!

— Posted by Dawn M. Smith

Dear John,

I too was skeptical about “finding love” online. I heard so many horror stories from friends who tried online dating sites like match.com, yahoo personals, etc…. So when my friend Megan told me to try eHarmony, after many failed blind dates set up by my parents, friends, and colleagues, I was totally against it. How can an online site know who is the “right guy” for me, when the people who know me are not able to find that “right guy?” But what she said next hooked me, she said that not only did she find the love of her life on eHarmony, her two other friends are married to their eHarmony matches and are now trying to have children. What are the odds in that happening? Three sets of friends finding love on eHarmony. Well I must say, I am now the fourth friend who has found the love of my life on eHarmony. The personality test took me 2 hours to fill out and I was sent matches right away. And John, you are right, I did NOT get a lot of communication requests or replies to my communication requests until I posted my picture. I think men are more visual. To make a long story short, all the matches that I finally met up with were people I would date or hang out with, had I not been matched up with them on eHarmony. It was just that the level of chemistry or attraction was different. When I met my husband, it was after being on eHarmony for 8 months. I knew right away from his online answers, from his voice, from his physical appearance, and from our chemistry… that he was the one. Two months after we met we got engaged and 8 months later we were married. We are now happily married for about three years. I would highly recommend eHarmony for anyone who is seriously about finding a soulmate. –Nikki, California

— Posted by Nikki Kwan

I wrote this 6 years ago … “been there (in match.com) for 7 months, profile viewed over 6200 times. I lost the count of how many guys contacted me when I reached the 100 mark a few months ago; out of politeness I have responded to all, the majority with a “thanks for writing, but I am not the right one for you”. Have talked on the phone with 30 or more, have met 16 guys - all of them very nice, most of them rather good looking, but the elusive chemistry decided not to be present on those dates. Interestingly, I was told that I look better than my posted pictures by a large majority of them - those were nice guys. I went out more than once with 4 of those… just giving ourselves and romance the chance, as some connection was there, but romance, decided not to bloom in us. I have written to 9 guys, 3 of those politely rejected me, 4 just ignored me and did not even acknowledge my mail, and I eventually meet one of the other two, with no luck either. Why am I still there? because my single friends that are not on-line are not even meeting quality people… at least I have enjoyed the company of very nice individuals, plenty of nice conversations, I have even made some few new friends… and I am still convinced the one for me is out there, I just need to continue searching…”
The end of the story is that shortly thereafter I found what I was looking for, almost exactly to my specifications, and we have lived happily ever after. It takes work to find the needle in the proverbial haystack, and I get the feeling that online dating works much better for those with good written communication skills, and those with certain analytical capacity to separate the wheat from the chaff, by just reading a paragraph. Those who work in recruiting or as college admission officers surely have an advantage.

— Posted by IMF

I am in a wonderful commited relationship resulting from online dating. I am also a biology researcher who spent a lot of time analyzing the online dating scene for the year and a half I was involved in it. I tried a number of different dating sites, though never one where I couldn’t make the choice. Nonetheless, I did not even meet men that I wanted to date on most of the sites. Then, a few weeks after I signed up for fast cupid/salon.com personals, I met the man I fell in love with. For me, it was all about the balance of meeting a select group of people with similar ideals/interests and having a large enough pool of online dates. Most of the sites that are specific to liberals or Jews or what have you, have a very small number of users. Then the general sites have an incredibly huge number of users who have little in common. I feel lucky that I found something in between.

That said, online dating also gave me the opportunity to date people I would not have met or thought to date otherwise. This was eye-opening. For instance, my boyfriend is certainly someone I would have been friends with had I met him, but I don’t think I would have dated him. Because we were dating as soon as we met, I gave him a whole month before I made any serious judgement about his dateability. Now I’m very happy and I’m happy to recommend online dating to certain people in the right situations. It’s not for everyone, but it broadens the possibilities considerably.

— Posted by A. Yelton

I have tried so many dating services and have spent a small fortune. I met my wife Karen through EHarmony.com and I cannot say enouigh good words about them. On many sites I had read bios, looked at pictures and sent out requests for introductions, and usually got no responses. Now I know I am no Adonis but I felt what harm could there be in meeting a nice guy. Many of my initial EHarmony matches went the same way. But the Eharmonty process allowed us to get a sense of each other before we could decide about meeting. In particular the 3 short essay questions really clued me in to a connection. It told me that there was a solid base from which to work. Our bond developed and 18 months later we were married, and now after 8 months, it just keeps getting better. We are a match for each other that would never have been discovered save at EHarmony. I only applaud EHarmony for doing the hard work and allowing Karen and I to become aware of each other. It worked for me.

— Posted by Jeff Beck

My husband and I met 3 years ago on eHarmony. I, too, was skeptical…but I figured..what the heck…give it a try!! I had been divorced for years and I certainly wasn’t going to go to a bar to “meet someone.” We lived about 1 1/2 hours away from each other and we would have never met otherwise. And it is definately not just for the “younger crowd!” I’m 51 and my husband is 60! We were married this past June! We are both so happy that we found each other! Both of us enjoyed the process of meeting each other. The questions on eHarmony really make you think about what is really important. Meeting on eHarmony DOES NOT mean that we do not have any marital woes and all is Nirvana. I feel, though, that because we have such compatibility, it makes it a little easier to get through “sticky times”. I highly recommend it!!!

— Posted by Cathy Haskins

I met my husband on match.com in 2003, we married in 2005. For me the draw to internet dating was the ability to focus on how compatible our values were and be able to screen out all of the things it would have taken me longer to discover. I’m in my middle years and didn’t want to waste time with another decade of dating. I never tried any of the sites that used an algorithm and I read his profile the first time I used match.com. I think the picture of my husband with a dog was the hook and that he had 2 kids about the same age as mine (young adults). We told my cousin (who is in his 70’s) about match.com and he recently married the woman he met online, who is 68. His profile photo was of him on his horse. They are now roping and riding their way across California.

— Posted by Connie

While I haven’t used eharmony (nor would I be able to because I gay), I did post a personal on Craigslist. I received many replies but decided to only meet one of those replies. We met and instantly clicked.

We’ve been together now for over 10 months.

And you know what the best part was (in addition to meeting the love of my life)? The whole post was free !

-Erika c/s

— Posted by Erika Carlsen

I subscribed to eHarmony for three months. I was “perfectly matched” with 296 women in the central Ohio area by the service. I am in love with the first woman who responded to my questions, who had left eHarmony but continued to receive “matches” from the servie. She took a chance and re-subsribed to gain fuller information about me. I am so grateful that she made that choice and look forward to building a lasting relationship with her.

— Posted by Tony

My boyfriend of 2 years & I met on eHarmony, & contrary to what #28 found, an unexpectedly high percentage of my matches were Indian and worked in some kind of science field. I could not figure this out until it occured to me that eHarmony throws a lot of data together & comes up with a result, which is the whole nature of scientific discovery. And yes, the love of my life did turn out to be both Indian and a scientist. We’ve recommended eHarmony to many friends.

— Posted by Christina Gertig

My experience suggests that the unscreened Match.com approach can work, at least for some people. In 1998, inspired by a colleague who had met her husband through Match.com, I tried it and within six months met the man whom I would marry in 2000. (Neither of us posted photos, by the way.) Then, a couple of years later, inspired in turn by my example, another colleague of mine met her future husband in the same way. All three marriages are still flourishing today–and for the last few years my stepmother has been dating a man she met through Match.com. . . .

In our case, Match.com facilitated a meeting between my husband and me that might very well have–but didn’t–occur through other means. One of my husband’s cousins knew my brother in college; two other of his cousins attended the same college that I did, at about the same time; and my husband and I are both PhDs who went on to work outside academe. Thus, the online introductions service functioned almost as a natural extension of existing social networks, and perhaps that is a key to many other successful outcomes as well.

It’s certainly true that our marriage is an example supporting the hypothesis that similar educational backgrounds, values, tastes, etc., help promote compatibility. One can imagine, though, that a screening mechanism might have ruled out us out on the basis of some relatively trivial differences. Perhaps those seeking a mate might want to try both the screened and unscreened approaches–after all, the whole point is to increase your opportunities!

— Posted by Nora

I met my now-husband through Match.com. We have been married about 4 years now. He was my 4th Match date. I almost did not accept it because Date #3 was a freak. Dates #1 and #2 were perfectly nice, just no sparks.

DH and I told everyone who asked how we met that “We go to the same gym”, which was true, but not how we met.

I finally got the nerve to confess the on-line truth to my family. My sister-in-law said she would “absolutely try” on-line dating if she were still single (much to my brother’s surprise). My 75 year old widower father confessed that he thought about trying it but figured he was “way too old to find anyone”. So much for the stigma of on-line dating.

— Posted by Elizabeth

My husband and I met via Match.com but I believe our success story is more of a coincidence (or fate, depending on your beliefs) than a result of their algorithms. As some other posts have noted, the Match site produces so many obvious fakes or desperate profile hits that I was ready to take my profile down after one week. I was 20 years old and was receiving messages from men who were either married or old enough to be my father. I’m dubious about online matchmaking in general but believe that with patience and a pre-established “perfect mate wish list” these services can work. Fortunately before I gave up, my husband found my profile, and his initial email was short and intelligent enough to get my attention. We talked over the phone for about three weeks, and seven months after we met in person we were engaged. We cohabited for a little over two years before tying the knot. I can’t imagine a more perfect companion.

— Posted by Sarah

I used several websites in the past and found my current partner on chemistry.com a year ago and we are incredibly well-suited to each other. I believe it was a matter of casting the net wide enough (through online dating) to be selective in meeting possible matches until I found that ideal combination of “the right match” and chemistry.

As I know, from my own experience, what it’s like to go through the ups and downs of online dating, I am forming support groups so that online daters can provide support and feedback to each other. Some groups will meet in-person, in Montclair, NJ. Other groups will meet virtually, by phone.

More information is available at http://www.onlinedatingcoaching.com

— Posted by Jonathan Sibley


This guy wants real Internet love stories…

Here’s the companion article from the NYT that I referred to in my blog posting of 1/30/2007.  In the next posting, I’ll print a few of the great love stories of real people who wrote the author.

January 28, 2008
Wanted: Single or Married Adult with Online Matchmaking Story

By John Tierney

I’m ready to hear your online matchmaking success stories — and, of course, the horror stories, too.

I got interested in online matchmaking, the topic of my latest Findings column, while doing a column last year about the other kind of online dating in which you pick out your partners. Researchers who’d analyzed the traffic on the online sites told me they’d love to know more about the eHarmony approach because it might avoid the manifest problems of the online dating they’d studied.

When people look for their own partner, they can be absurdly picky as well as unrealistic about their own appeal. One result is the “lightning-rod effect,” in which the most attractive candidates get swamped with offers. A beautiful woman who posts a picture might hear from a thousand guys. She’s frustrated because she’s swamped with too much information; the guys are frustrated because most of them never get a reply. An online matchmaker like eHarmony, Chemistry.com or Perfectmatch.com can sort through huge numbers of people and pick out more realistic matches — in principle.

But where’s the evidence that their matching algorithms can really help you find love? Two eHarmony researchers, Steve Carter and Chadwick Snow, did a study concluding that married couples who were matched by eHarmony “indicated a higher degree of happiness, optimism and commitment to the success of their relationship” than did married couples in a control group.

That study was presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Society in 2004, and researchers at eHarmony tell me they plan to publish a more comprehensive version with more data. But other scientists, naturally, are skeptical of any report until it goes through the peer-review process, particularly when, like this one, it’s a cross-sectional study that takes a snapshot comparison of two groups at one point in time. Researchers at the new eHarmony Labs have started another, more rigorous, longitudinal study that will track eHarmony-matched couples and a control group over time, but it will be some time before there are results.

In a subsequent post I’ll discuss a little more of the science of compatibility and present some thoughts about eHarmony and other companies from researchers in this field. Researchers who’ve looked into these topics are welcome to post comments or e-mail me at ( ). And I invite everyone, scientists or laypeople, single or married, to report their experiences with online matchmaking. I realize, as ever, that the plural of anecdote is not data, but given the paucity of independent evaluations of these online matchmakers, anecdotes are at least a start.


Want a little romance today???

Go to Mark Brooks’ blog and watch the video of his proposal to his girlfriend Irena.  Mark is the editor of OnlinePersonalsWatch.com and is THE MAN when it comes to contacts in the online dating world.  Mark interview me last year on his blog.  You can read the interview here.

Congratulations, Mark and Irena!


Dating Success Story

Doncha love stories about couples who met online?  I do, and I’ve got a good collection of them if you want to see more.

MUST READ: Weekend feature: Online dating

By Mari Schuh
Special to The Free Press

Beth Speece of Mankato says when it comes to online dating, some people make assumptions.

“I think there’s this misconception that you’ve got to be a loser. Hey, I was just busy,” she said.

On a lark last year, Beth joined Match.com, one of the Web’s most popular dating sites. It was just another piece of her full life, a big part of which she spends teaching at Minnesota State University. She didn’t think anything serious would come out of it.

“I’m a very cautious person. I thought there’s no way you could meet the love of your life online,” she said.

Well, fate believed otherwise when Beth met Grant Speece for a cup of coffee after connecting on Match.com. The 40-somethings chatted for three hours about taboo first-date topics, such as religion and politics. They found they shared many common values.

Grant had another date with a woman that evening, which turned out to be a disaster. He thought of Beth the entire time. Shortly after, he called Beth back, and they decided to date exclusively.

They were engaged just two weeks later.

“People were really shocked,” Beth said. “Generally, we’re not impulsive.”

The Speeces are one of an estimated 120,000 couples who get married every year as a result of online dating, according to Online Dating Magazine.

Not everyone is quite so lucky, of course. Subscribers can spend countless hours sifting through profile after profile of “I love long walks on the beach” and then suffer through terrible first dates that seem to drag on forever.

Users should be wary of the pictures posed with profiles, too. Misleading photos akin to Abercrombie & Fitch ads muddy the waters. Vague and potentially inaccurate body-type descriptions (What does “curvy” really mean anyway?) test people’s belief in the process.

People even have to watch out for “professional online daters” who are addicted to the online-dating game. They rarely form a real relationship and bail at the first sign of trouble.

But despite all the pitfalls, those “You had me at hello” moments really do happen. Just ask Blair and Andrea Dehning of Mankato. The couple met on Yahoo! Personals in 2000 when the service was free.

It didn’t happen immediately — Blair had to surf around a while to find Andrea.

“I found one woman who wanted me to bungee jump with her,” he said. “I said icksnay to that one.”


eHarmony Love Story

Online dating skepticism turns into enchantment

GOT MAIL: Couple find harmony with an Internet matchmaking service.

Anchorage Daily News

Published: May 28, 2007

If Tanis Cogdell’s dial-up Internet didn’t take so long to connect, she would have been able to cancel her subscription to eharmony.com. She and David Jamar would never have met, and they wouldn’t be getting married June 9.

But it did, and she didn’t, and they did and they are. Welcome to relationships in the 21st century.

Cogdell, 23, grew up in Eagle River. She is pursuing a nursing degree at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. When she and a friend saw a TV ad for the online dating site Thanksgiving weekend, the friend dared her to sign up.

“They give you the first week free, so I said, ‘whatever.’ “

She filled out a “million questions,” and prospects began appearing in her e-mail inbox. Cogdell found little to recommend the first candidates, even though eHarmony professed them to be perfect matches for her profile.

“I thought, ‘This is stupid.’ I tried to cancel it, but my dial-up connection kept timing out.”

Then Jamar’s profile showed up in the inbox about the end of December.

“The same day I got the match, I responded with “Hey, I’d like to know more about you,” said Jamar, 27.

He lives in Marble Hills, Texas, about 80 miles from Cogdell’s home in Pipe Creek.

His friends had urged him to sign up with eHarmony a couple months earlier, but he never progressed to meeting any of the candidates.

“I never was one to date a whole lot,” he said in a Southern drawl. “I’ve had a couple previous relationships that lasted a couple months at a time. But I never knew that there was any future with them like I did with Tanis right off the bat.”

eHarmony’s guided matching service requires all initial contact to be online. Hopefuls first exchange a list of five questions, followed by lists of must-haves and can’t-stands, Cogdell said. You can choose at what step in the communication process you want to show someone your picture. Subscribers decide if and when e-mail addresses and phone numbers are shared.

Jamar’s and Cogdell’s first e-mails tackled the topics of gender roles, politics and activities they hoped their partner would share.

“David’s been with the volunteer fire department for five years, so he said he really hoped his partner would share a spirit of volunteering in the community,” said Cogdell, who volunteered as a camp counselor and wrangler at Victory Bible Camp, at her church and with a pregnancy crisis center when she lived in Alaska.

Mostly Cogdell was impressed by his honesty.

“He was never afraid to say he believed in one thing or another before knowing that I was on the same page. He wasn’t ashamed to tell me that he really wanted in the future when he got married, for his wife to stay at home with the kids. It’s not a very mainstream idea. I’ve had people look at me like I’ve got a third eye when I tell them I want to marry and be a mother.”

When e-mailing became cumbersome ("She writes novels,” Jamar said), they moved to six hourlong phone calls.

Jan. 11, two weeks after their first e-mail, they agreed to meet at a diner near Cogdell’s home.

“People I work with said, ‘Do you have a bailout plan if it’s really horrible?’ “ Cogdell said.

They talked for four hours, then moved to a coffee shop around the corner for three more hours.

“She was more what I was looking for than I realized,” Jamar said. “The first time we met, I had a clue she was the one. She was a Christian woman who was really seeking God, and that was a big determining factor.”

Their meeting was 21st-century techy, but their courtship was old-fashioned.

Jamar brought pink (her favorite color) daises to the diner. He held the door for her and paid for lunch. He asked her father’s permission before he proposed.

It was Valentine’s Day, and they were moving rocks in Cogdell’s yard when Jamar made his move.

“He’s got this big rock in his hand, making hand gestures, and I’m asking for her hand. He told me that he thought I was right for his daughter, and he’d definitely bless our marriage.”

Feb. 17, Jamar told Cogdell he’d be late for the delayed Valentine’s Day dinner she planned to prepare at his house that night. He said he’d be practicing storm maneuvers at Enchanted Rock State Park, but he and a friend were actually in Austin, picking out an engagement ring.

It wasn’t the first time Cogdell had arrived earlier than expected to clean up the house where a lot of his firefighter friends hang out ("I always say, ‘This is where the lost boys live,’ “ Cogdell said) before making dinner.

“I didn’t plan to propose for another week,” Jamar said. “But I saw she’d been there and slaved over all this just to make me happy.”

Knowing he couldn’t keep a secret, he told her after dinner that he wasn’t at Enchanted Rock that day, he was out buying an enchanted rock.

“He was kind of shaking,” Cogdell said, “and drinking Dr Pepper like it was his job.” Her nursing experience caused her to wonder if he was ill.

“It was the most emotional thing I ever went through,” Jamar said. “We spent the rest of the evening hugging each other and calling friends and family.”

They canceled their subscriptions to eHarmony.

“I got lucky and found someone I’m crazy about, but I could have been on there two years,” Cogdell said. “It’s kind of a crapshoot.”


Golfers in Love!

A tale of

Diane and Brian were both single golfers and met on DateAGolfer.com in April 2006. The couple were married on May 05, 2007 - exactly 365 days after their first date. We had our first date and followed that up with a round of golf the next day,” says Brian. “It was as if we had known one another for a much longer time.


Try Your 7/7/07 Luck at a Walmart Wedding…

This is either the height of cool or crass.  If you want a bargain wedding, look at what Wal-Mart is getting into.  PS two of the seven couples met online.

Thursday June 21, 7:03 pm ET
‘Lucky in Love Wedding Search’ Awards Couples Ceremonies at Local Wal-Mart Stores on the Most Popular Wedding Date of the Year

When Kymberlie DeRouen helped her longtime friend and ex-boyfriend, Billy Guidry, clean up the wreckage to his home from Hurricane Rita they found a love letter under a flag on the front door that she had written to him when they were dating. The pair interpreted finding the letter as a sign that they belonged together, forever. Wal-Mart Stores and G-Squared, a Wal-Mart exclusive brand from Gartner Studios, announced today that Kymberlie and Billy, along with six other couples from across the country, will receive wedding ceremonies and receptions inside their local Wal-Mart Supercenter on the most popular—and possibly the luckiest—wedding day of the year.

“Considering that Wal-Mart is like a second home to us, we’re excited to have our wedding there,” said Kymberlie. “Billy and I have been through so much during the past couple of years, so we truly consider ourselves lucky in love.”

Seven lucky couples have been named to receive these ceremonies and receptions as a result of the Lucky in Love Wedding Search and will exchange wedding vows on July 7. Couples were invited to register by logging onto http://www.walmart.com/giftregistry and clicking on the Lucky in Love link. The link connected them to the G Squared/Gartner Studios entry information, which asked for a brief love story essay. Registration began March 20 and concluded at Midnight on May 6, resulting in more than 400 couple registrations.

In addition to Louisiana-based Kymberlie DeRouen and Billy Guidry, the following couples were selected to receive a wedding package, including a reception and gifts, at their local Wal-Mart Supercenter:

Oliver Roper and Debra Russell, Oklahoma City, OK—Oliver and Debra seem destined to wed on 7.7.07. They met seven years ago—in July no less—and hit it off immediately. Financial hardship forced them to postpone their wedding indefinitely, and being chosen as one of the “lucky in love” couples has finally given them their long-awaited chance for a meaningful ceremony in front of their loved ones.

Jimmie Lee Cottrell and Katessa Burtch, Kokomo, IN—Jimmie Lee, who has two daughters of his own, and Katessa Burtch, who has three sons of her own, are excited to join their families together as one. After changing their wedding date twice, coordinating busy family schedules and Katessa injuring her knee, planning the wedding hadn’t been an easy task—until now. Because Wal-Mart is such a part of the family’s daily life and Katessa is a former associate, the couple believes the store is the perfect place to join their lives.

Duwayne Surprise and Liz Donaldson, Janesville, WI—Duwayne and Liz found each other through friends on the Internet. After spending countless hours together online, they realized they were an ideal match. Liz surprised Duwayne by proposing to him on her blog. Little did she know, Duwayne was planning on proposing to her that same week.

Michael Lefevers and Rachel Evans, Lebanon, OR—Michael and Rachel have always been close. In fact, they have lived three houses down from each other for most of their lives. However, it wasn’t until Michael’s sister introduced him to Rachel in 2005, that they even knew they were neighbors. Since then, their relationship has blossomed and they can hardly wait for 7/7/07.

Caleb Cox and Ella Glass, Charlotte, NC—Caleb and Ella met, as fate would have it, by complete accident in an online chatroom. After they began chatting away with one another, they realized they were a true match. After almost five years of dating, the couple is thrilled to get married.

Matthew Cauthon and Candace Presley, Gore, OK—Matthew and Candace met through mutual friends in 2004 and hit it off right away. They spend countless hours with each other, playing with their dogs and spending time with their families.

“We are predicting that twice the number of brides as other Saturdays in July will marry this July 7, and many facilities were booked well over a year in advance,” said Richard Markel, Director of the Association for Wedding Professionals International. “Wal-Mart has provided a great opportunity—and solution—for these brides; without this opportunity, they might have had to settle for another, less memorable date.”

Couples will receive a wedding package with an estimated value of more than $5,000. This package not only includes the decorated wedding venue in Wal-Mart’s colorful lawn and garden area surrounded by the season’s bright foliage, but also an adjacent tent for the reception area, wedding cake and party food. The package also includes 14kt gold and diamond wedding bands, wedding invitations, wedding and groom’s cakes, fresh floral bouquets, digital cameras and digital photo frame, a portable GPS device, reception food and a $1,000 Wal-Mart gift card.

The average American wedding costs a whopping $22,000(1) and requires multiple trips to various vendors and many betrothed couples are searching for solutions to save money and time without sacrificing quality for their special day. One example is in a quality wedding cake—more than 1500 customers a week purchase wedding cakes at Wal-Mart Supercenters around the country. That totals up to more than 78,000 wedding cakes a year that Wal-Mart provide couples walking down the aisles.


We Love Love Stories and Where to Find Them

OnlinePersonalsWatch’s Mark Brooks has done it again: Given us some very useful information.  Mark has listed the top sites that post their success stories!  What’s an online dating site’s measure of success?  Marriages and couplings!  Here’s Mark’s list:

Ranking, Property, Number of success stories*

1. Christian Cafe, 1287
2. PlentyofFish, 470
3. JDate, 195
4. eHarmony, 160
5. Date, 128
6. American Singles, 100
7. HotorNot, 93
7. Yahoo Personals, 93
9. Match, 90
10. Cupid, 80
11. BlackPeopleMeet, 74
12. DatingDirect, 54

*As at March 30th, 2007.

Online dating industry analyst/consultant Mark Brooks commented, “Nothing is more compelling to prospective online daters than success stories from people just like them that have met through online dating. It would be good for the industry as a whole if more dating sites would feature their success stories and keep them up-to-date.”

If you want to have some inspiring fun, go on over to any of those sites and take a look at who met the loves of their lives.

Isn’t it interesting that Match.com and Yahoo! Personals (the biggest sites and probably accounting for thousands of happy couples) post so few of their success stories?  You are missing a great opportunity, Match and Yahoo!

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


We Love Love Stories: Carol Wilburn and George Van Bebber

Love story

Carol Wilburn was ready to log off an Internet dating site for the last time.

The Lynnwood woman had met two or three people through the Web site but had decided to cancel her subscription one evening in September 2005.

Just as she was about to quit, the Web site sent Carol information on a few men whose descriptions matched her profile.

“George’s face popped up,” Carol said. “I thought, ‘He looks really nice.’ “

Carol, 70, read his biography and saw that George Van Bebber, 74, had been married for 52 years. His wife died of breast cancer in 2003.

Carol was interested in meeting people who had been in a long marriage. She had been married to her husband for 47 years before he died of lung cancer in 2003.

Carol decided to contact George, who lived in Lacey.

“I sent him a wink,” Carol said. “Which is what you do on match.com.”

She soon received an e-mail from George asking her to dinner.

Carol and George Van Bebber of Lynnwood will celebrate their first wedding anniversary on March 18.

George has four children. Carol has two children. Between them, the couple has 16 grandchildren.

Carol’s 47 years with her first husband and George’s 52 years with his former wife, added to the couple’s one year together, makes for 100 years.

“We are celebrating 100 years of marriage instead,” Carol said.

Carol and George had their first date at Anthony’s Restaurant in Edmonds. On another date they drove to Leavenworth for the fall Leaf Festival.

“I was quite smitten,” Carol said. “He said that when he saw me, he knew.”

They began seeing each other regularly and almost six months later they were married.

Carol says that she and George have a lot in common. They like to travel.

“We’ve put 50,000 miles on the car in the year we’ve been married,” Carol said.

They have driven almost across the United States and to Yuma, Ariz., three times.

Carol describes George as a very honest and generous person with a big, booming, deep voice. He’s a lot of fun to be around.

“He loves to laugh and does it readily,” Carol said.

Carol says that she and George are amazed at how well they get along and how happy they are together. They realize that they appreciate marriage because they had both been married for so long. They don’t sweat the small stuff and know what’s important and what isn’t.

George is the perfect companion for Carol, she said. They enjoy the same things, they are Christians and church is a big part of their lives.

“If I had to put a list together, I wouldn’t even have hoped for the things I’ve found in George,” Carol said.


Another Love Story from eHarmony

Online Love

February 14—Since this report was prepared to run on Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be the perfect time to spotlight a love story, made online. eHarmony.com bills itself as “America’s #1 trusted relationship service” and there is a local success story.

“You know I went through a whole bunch of pictures and when I saw hers, I said, let me e-mail this one and see what’s up,” said Shaun Galloway.

And the rest, as they say, is history. In June 2005, Shaun, a Mobile native and B.C. Rain graduate, and Kym, who was living in Augusta, Georgia, became a couple. A year later they were married.

“We talked on the phone like two hours every night,” said Kym. “Oh goodness,” laughed Shaun.

Founded in 2000 by relationship expert Doctor Neil Clark Warren, eHarmony.com has brought millions of people together to find the love of their lives--even if the future love birds, and a certain family member, weren’t sure it was such a good idea. “My mother probably chewed me out,” said Kym.

But Shaun said his mother was fine with it and even looked at pictures with him online. But at first, he wasn’t exactly sold on online matchmaking. “I would hear people meeting other people on the internet,” said Shaun. “Ain’t no way I’m doing that.”

Well he did it, and the Galloways, now married eight months, are expecting a baby soon. Their first together, but fifth overall. “It’s good. It’s got its ups and downs, trying to get them all together,” said Shaun. “But we work through it.”

It’s all thanks to modern technology.


We Love Love Stories—And here are LOTS!

Napans share tales of online dating
Monday, February 12, 2007

Editor’s note: We asked readers to share their experiences with online dating for Valentine’s Day, and as the tales came in we noticed a startling thing: They were nearly all happy ones — quite a shock to a journalist. In one case, both partners sent their stories. Thanks to readers for sharing them. Sasha Paulsen

Two stories from one couple story, Part I:

I’ve found the world of online “dating” to be very instructive and rewarding. This Valentine’s Day I’ll be celebrating the blossoming of life and love with newfound appreciation for the wonders of electronic communication we are coming to accept and use in so many ways.

Several years ago, following a divorce, I opened to relationships — not just seeking a mate, but deeply drawn toward possible connections with kindred spirits in different ways (platonic as well as romantic). I found online exploration and interaction exciting but sometimes baffling. Learning quickly how to navigate in these waters can be challenging to the uninitiated or less adventurous.

I began to reach out from the Sacramento area, sensing it was time to look elsewhere for well-matched company. This journey has led me to a wonderful woman in Napa, the kindred spirit I feel I’ve been seeking for a long time. We connected rather improbably and serendipitously through my casual Craigslist post, which could have easily escaped her attention but did not. I’ve found Craigslist to be the most accessible and fruitful of the sites with which I’ve had substantial experience.

These lyrics from “Straight to You” (by the Girls of Santa Cruz) speak to my journey in ways that may resonate with others: “Every path I haven’t chosen, every heart that wasn’t true, every door that wouldn’t open ... every hour I felt forsaken, every storm I struggled through, every chance I’ve ever taken led me straight to you.”

And the others side weighs in, Part II:

It was clearly a random idea. I decided in December that I wanted to do something special for Hanukkah — perhaps a nice Jewish man would be looking for a date to a cultural event? I had used Craigslist before to find dates, buy a coffee table, land a part-time job and find vacation lodging in New York City. I have found the site to be very user-friendly and safe.

So on Dec. 15, I typed in “Men seeking Women,” keyword: Jewish, and searched the entire Bay Area. At the end of 20 postings, on the last day of the posting, was someone with an extra ticket to Kung Pao Jewish kosher comedy in San Francisco. I replied, knowing it was probably too late. He replied back; he had a date. We exchanged two short e-mails and spoke on the phone one time. Nice Jewish guy from Sacramento? Sounded friendly enough; we seemed to have enough in common for at least one cup of coffee.

I was divorced in 1981. I had several relationships since then, a couple of engagements and dated many — the gamut ranging from nice to interestingly eccentric characters. I used the Internet frequently to expand the dating pool of men available in Napa, especially Jewish men. I had used primarily, Match.com, Jdate (online Jewish dating site) and Yahoo singles. But so far, no match had grown long-term legs.

Ira and I decided to meet on Dec. 26 at the Bounty Hunter. It was a rainy, cold winter night. I almost changed my mind. However, I pulled myself together and drove down there. At 7 p.m., I met a very attractive, warm and engaging man. We connected instantly in our nonstop conversation, common interests and physical attraction. From then on, we have experienced a comfortable and deeply felt relationship.

I never gave up hope that I would meet someone. Even at 55, I knew there was a “pot that matched my lid.” I just had to keep trying to find the right fit. Someone who loves my quirks, energy and joie de vivre and I, his. We are B’sheret (soulmates).

A roller coaster ride

When AOL went month-to-month billing I decided to look for a mate. I met (online) 12 women that were complete liars. Some were married. The husband showed up at our date or they sent me a picture from their high school photo. I passed a women at the Uptown Theater four times before I asked her if she was waiting for me. She was nothing like her picture. She had gray hair and she was 200 pounds heavier than her pic. I met my wife on AOL and told her that I loved her on a ride at Great America called the Drop Zone. When we dropped I told her I loved her. It was a shock to her and we have been married ever since. My wife and I have had a great life. We are a very happy couple.

Patience and faith

I am 52 and remained single, never meeting Mr. Right. I tried three or four different Internet sites over about six years, met quite a few men and had some interesting experiences, but was getting tired of the process. As a last attempt, I decided to try Craigslist. I had found a job and housing there, so I thought, why not? My heading was “Tired of Looking, But Still Have Hope.”

My fiance responded, but put in his new cell phone number wrong. So I wrote back and wished him well, thinking he really wasn’t serious. He responded immediately. We e-mailed, talked on the phone and had our first date. He brought me a beautiful Peace rose. He is charming, smart, romantic and sexy. We talked so easily and found we had followed similar journeys in life.

We were both ready for a relationship and truly are soul mates. Our third date was the clincher, we went to Stern Grove and saw the SF Ballet. It was a magical experience. We have been together ever since, are just about to celebrate six months.

We have been through some life struggles already, but it has just brought us closer together. We are blessed with all the time we have had to spend together and grow in our relationship.

So, love through the Internet is possible, sometimes you just have to be patient and have some faith.

A bargain

I met my husband Dan thanks to the Internet almost 9 years ago. He responded to a profile I’d placed on the American Singles Web site. I was 45 years old, had never been married nor did I have children. I was working nights (graveyard shift). Sleep was important so when was I going to meet anyone? I no longer did the bar scene and with my work hours, casual dating was simply a waste of my time. At my sister’s insistence I went out and purchased my first PC.

My husband, on the other hand, was divorced and had recently ended a long term relationship. He was of the opinion that the ‘shotgun approach’ to Internet dating was the ticket. He said back then, that a woman who owned a computer was intelligent and probably had a decent income because computers were still a bit pricey. Not only that, it was a way to meet a lot of people whom one might not ordinarily meet.

We met for lunch at Mustard’s when I had the day off. When I was done insisting on paying for my half of the meal, I discovered that my wallet wasn’t in my purse and sheepishly had to admit my mistake. He was most gracious about it. Then, once the meal was paid for I had to ask for bridge toll money. He maintains that is the best $3 he’s ever spent.

Help from angels

I just want to share with you my happy experience with online dating. I am over 50 and after a mostly unhappy marriage of 30 years, I met a person who is genuinely loving, caring, has a great sense of humor, is honorable and just wants to make me happy. Prior to meeting him I had dated other men that I met online, but the minute I met Ron, I just knew he was the one. Ron was a recent widower from Vacaville who worked in Napa. He had a loving, successful 15 year marriage with his second wife, and so the standard for another woman was high. I truly believe the angels helped us find each other online almost two and a half years ago, and now we both live and work together, never argue, and are just grateful for each other every single day.

Whirlwind courtship

Dave and I met online through eHarmony, in June 2004, met in person, July 2004 and married in August 2004 at Napa City Hall. We would like to add, we have no regrets and every day we just keep falling more in love with each other, and for this we thank God.

I married a Mountie

In 2002, I signed up with an online dating program, thinking I’d meet someone close by, within 30 miles from where I lived. One day when I came home from work I had an e-mail from a fellow in British Columbia. George Whittaker was a retired Royal Canadian Mountie.

I thought having a pen pal in Canada would be fun. George and I wrote back and forth for a few months. I never mentioned I was going on a cruise with girl friends to Vancouver and Victoria. When I finally told him, he was so excited — we were going to finally meet. Only I was not going to ditch my girlfriends, and they were not going to let me go anywhere with this stranger. After all, how did I really know he was a retired Mountie and not an ax murderer? My friends and I went to meet George at a Starbucks.

He was reading behind a newspaper. I went over to him to say hello and get a pre-arranged hug. He ordered us beverages and said he would be right back; he had something in the car. I though he was out of there. Well, in he came with a long-stemmed red rose for each of us and an extra bouquet of flowers for me. When he asked if he could show us around Vancouver, Stanley Park and Grouse Mountain, we all jumped in the car. George took us to the ship at the end of a lovely day and said he was going to be away for a few days and would e-mail me when he got home to his computer. We said goodbye.

The next day the ship docked at Victoria, BC. George had told us some special places to go, so we were headed in the direction he advised when my friend Sue screeched out. There was George. He had changed his plans to join us. The girls decided I could walk around Victoria with him and be safe, so off we went. Before you know it, I had to return to the ship. If I failed to show-up, the girls had phone numbers to call to locate me. When we got to the ship, the plank was up and I had to get on the ship by the loading lift. Everyone gave me a standing ovation at dinner that night.

I flew to meet George in his home town and meet some of the family — whom I loved. Then he came to Napa to meet my family, who loved him. By then I knew “he is the one.”

We got married in Napa in my sister’s vineyard. We moved to the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia. And we later bought a winter home in Napa. George and I will celebrate four years of marriage in July.

One of my girlfriends from the cruise has since met a man named George through online dating. She knows he is The One and now all of my single girlfriends from the cruise are looking for guys named George on their online dating service.

Prince Charming

I’ve been married for seven wonderful years to a man that I met online. We married five months after we met. We are still as much in love now as we were then. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Dating online was great for us. We are looking forward to the next 50 or so years to come. He is definitely my Prince Charming.

Growing old with chuckles

I met my future husband online and have been engaged a year on Feb. 5. Last year he proposed on Super Bowl Sunday right before the game started with both our parents in attendance and my daughter. We both previously had been on eHarmony and tried different online venues, but never found each other. We came across each other just viewing different profiles. We both found getting to know each other much different now that we are in our late 30s compared to when we were younger. We have had good laughs about the questions we asked each other and am sure we will continue to chuckle as we grow older together.