Tired of the bar scene and those setups all their married friends keep promising but never follow through on, single adults are turning to the Internet.
And it's working.
Ask Rhonda Neu, 30, of Sioux Falls. "I kind of started it in June of 2005," Neu says. "My friends said, 'Try it.' Heck, my mom even said, 'Try it.' "
When she started looking at the choices, Neu was amazed at the sheer number of sites.
An estimated 16 million Americans have used a dating site or other Web site to meet people, the Pew Research Center reports; 45 percent of these have never been married. Pew found 79 percent say online dating is a "good way to meet people," and 52 percent say the experience was mostly positive. Only 29 percent said it was mostly negative.
Doug Glazebrook is an editor for Cupidsreviews.com Website. His site rates a wide range of dating sites and compares them for people baffled by the raw volume of match-and-meet sites out there.
"We've reviewed two sites a week since we started in February 2005," says Glazebrook from the Web site's Toronto offices. "We've rated more than 100 so far, and we keep wondering when it will slow down."
Neu looked at eHarmony.com as well as Yahoo! dating before selecting match.com for her initial foray into Web dating.
"I was just dinking around on there, and I saw his picture," Neu says, referring to Cory Ims, now her fiance. "When I saw him, it led me to sign up and give it a try."
She signed up on Match.com and sent a message to Ims, wondering if he had gone to South Dakota State University when she did.
"He responded and told me he was living in Willmar (Minn.), and as it turned out, I had to go there for work," Neu says. "So we went on our first date while I was in Minnesota on business."
Conversations continued after that first date, both by phone and via e-mail. In time, the couple made plans for marriage. Neu says the experience taught her a bit about online dating.
"You get a lot of e-mails, and if you don't have time to read them and respond, it can be a bother," she says. "But after that first date with Cory, well, I wasn't really looking any more."
Glazebrook says there are ways to replicate Neu's beginner's luck.
"The biggest thing is, do not use only one site," Glazebrook says. "Try many, and make sure you consider niches," or specialized dating sites.
Such sites cater to specific interests and preferences. Farmersonly.com, for example, helps busy rural folks make connections.
It was founded by Jerry Miller. "Working 5 to 9, Monday through Sunday, and being out in the middle of nowhere - that combo is really something," says Miller, a married publicist for the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.
He kicked off the site in May 2005 with a couple hundred people. Now, the site's membership is surging to 10,000.
Online dating is no cure-all to the lonesome blues, Glazebrook says.
"It isn't easier than real-life dating," he says. "But there is more. More rejection, sure, but more fun, too."
For Neu, it was easier, and, in the end, it worked. "I am biased, since I met Cory, but it seemed easier and safer," she says. "It's more stressful to depend on chance or to have to approach someone. It's easier to e-mail. It worked a lot better for us."
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