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Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thy e-mail?

by Gordon Black

heartsFinding love has moved from the poetic courtyards of Shakespeare, to the smudged pages of personal ads, and now to the Internet. Courtship, like commerce, has gone electronic. You can now find romance on the Web, and with the speed of e-mail, you can hurry love.

"You can move as fast as you want," says Chris, a 41 year-old Seattle professional who, like thousands of searching singles, turned to his computer to find love. "I knew there had to be something on the Web," he says. 

His quest to find a future "life mate" on the Internet began with a simple search using key words like "matchmaker" and "personals." And getting responses didn't take long. "Within the first week," he says,  "I got seven or eight messages." 

Pix, set, and match
Unlike their newspaper counterparts, Internet-based personals have the database power to sift through thousands of names and find likely matches more quickly. Some even give you a result percentage of how your "attribute wish list" compares to those provided by other members.

Chris wrote a detailed profile and scanned and submitted a photo of himself to, his favorite "personals" site.  After all, as many of the sites advise, Cupid is more likely to come calling if there's a photo to tempt your suitors.

Shopping for a date
Using a personals Web site to find romance is like shopping online. You browse a site to check out its offerings: male, female, gay, straight, bi-sexual. Compare qualities: honest, caring, loving, happy, serious. Assess features: tanned, athletic, boyish, loyal. Check availability: single, married, separated, adulterous. And read the fine print: long-term relationship, strictly casual, or just friends.

Bouquets or coup de grace
Meeting people via e-mail might ease the stress of natural selection, but a Frankenstein who writes like Wordsworth is still a monster when you meet him in person. Which is to say, the usual caveats of dating intuition and etiquette still apply when an e-date becomes the date.

Take Chris. He exchanged e-mail with half of the women who contacted him about his listing. "If you just want dates, you will get dates," he acknowledges. But he was looking for something more serious, so he eliminated six women from his list of would-be suitors, and only called the remaining four.

He did end up meeting two of the women, and even dated one four times.  Alas, neither seemed to be the woman of his dreams. "You have to be good at gracefully ending a relationship at any time," warns Chris. "If you have a tough time saying no, it will be a hard experience." 

For now, Chris has no immediate plans for further Web-inspired romance and has logged himself off of the on-line dating scene.  "Overall, I'd say I learned a lot about myself and I feel good about the experience," he adds.

Chat room politics to long-distance romance
Nancy went online for conversations about politics and ended up crossing an ocean for love. A 47 year-old Californian, she used to think people who used online personals were "delusional." But one day last summer, she too became smittened with virtual love.

Speaking of her chat-room love interest: "We had still not shared a single word in private, until he announced that he had to leave (the chat room). I suddenly realized that I was going to miss his company terribly," she recalls.

Nancy then made what she calls a "risky decision." She sent a private message to this person whose real name she did not yet know. Over the next six months, the two generated 12,000 pages of e-mail correspondence, culminating in Ray stepping off the plane into her arms. Less than a month later, her life and family was moved from a California suburb to one of Europe's most elegant capital cities.

"Yes, as crazy as it sounds, Ray and I were completely committed to each other, even before we met in the flesh," she bubbles.

So, what about those of us who are still waiting patiently for Cupid's arrow?  Nancy has some advice. "Avoid 'looking' for romance. Remain open to possibilities," she says. "The person of your dreams may be as close--and as far away--as the Internet."

Note: All names in this article have been changed to protect the romantic.

Gordon Black

Gordon Black logged onto the Web as a happily married man, and he's glad he didn't get any e-mail.


All you need is love....
and maybe $12.95 a month
Love on the Web begins with a visit to one of the many on-line dating sites available.  You can find most of them by doing a search, using keywords such as "personals," "romance," "matchmaker."

Some sites charge monthly fees, others are free. Three of the better sites are: