Looking for love online | SteamboatToday.com

Looking for love online

Internet dating helps singles make lasting connections

Tamera Manzanares

Serious daters usually have serious questions: What’s a person’s political leanings? Are they religious? Do they hope to have kids? — questions you aren’t exactly comfortable asking on the first or even second date.

Online dating might be the answer for people tired of spending time getting to know people who don’t make the cut.

“Because you’re putting it all out there, you put the whole first three months (of dating) out there,” said Leah Bornstein, dean of Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs.

Bornstein and CMC professor Janie Swartz recently shared their online dating experiences during the Alpine Enrichment workshop “Meet Your Match via the Internet.”

Both women married men they met through online dating sites.

“I really never expected to get married again or go on a date again,” said Swartz, who got up the gumption to submit a photo and personal profile to a dating site after her divorce.

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About a month after signing on to kiss.com, Swartz met John Van Bezooyen. The two corresponded by e-mail, discovering common interests, including an affinity for Elwood P. Dowd, a character in the movie and play “Harvey” (Van Bezooyen described himself as an “Elwood Dowd wanna be”).

The couple married last month.

Bornstein’s situation was a bit different. As a professional, she enjoyed a youthful lifestyle of skiing and going to clubs. The idea of going online to find a mate seemed laughable — until, in the course of several months, she met eight people who had found their significant others online.

Bornstein submitted a profile and photo to Match.com, one of the most popular dating sites. The third match proved a charm: She met Joe Bornstein, and the two were married this year.

Both women said they didn’t take the online dating process too seriously.

“If you keep an open mind about it, you’ll have interesting experiences,” Bornstein said.

There are a variety of online dating sites available. Yahoo! Personals and Match.com are among the most popular.

In the case of Match.com, popular means more than 15 million active members, said Kathleen Roldan, spokeswoman and dating expert with Match.com.

EHarmony is another talked about site, though several participants at the workshop said the filtering process was excessively detailed and exasperating.

Each site has a variety of “filters” consisting of straightforward questions about what a person is looking for in a mate, as well as a profile written by the person.

In many cases, people may browse profiles for free. If they then want to contact a person or view additional information, they must sign up as members.

For safety, all personal information including real names is anonymous. Sites such as Match.com use a “double-blind” e-mail system in which applicants make up a name and e-mail and messages are forwarded to that person’s real e-mail address, Roldan said.

Match.com is among sites that offer additional filters allowing people to set more parameters, specifying how important certain issues are. Is it a deal breaker, for example, if a person is not politically conservative or a social drinker?

Bornstein and Swartz couldn’t stress enough how important it is for people to be honest about themselves and what they are looking for in another person.

“Put down what you really want and who you are, because if you don’t, you’re going to end up with something very different,” Bornstein said.

Pictures should be recent, and it doesn’t hurt to have a variety of shots featuring the person skiing, mountain biking or doing things they love to do.

Stay away from “glamour kitty and stud muffin” photos, unless that’s really the image you want to portray, Swartz said.

Profiles are equally important. Swartz, for example, wanted someone expressive, so she looked for men who wrote longer profiles.

In general, it’s good to write one to three interesting paragraphs explaining positive attributes and likes and dislikes. It helps to have a friend read the profiles to make sure it’s as genuine as possible, Bornstein said.

Swartz and Bornstein recommended people exchange a lot of e-mails and talk on the phone before agreeing to meet.

On Match.com, particularly cautious people can “wink” at someone they are interested in. Clicking on the “wink” link will automatically send their information to the person they are eyeing. The recipient may wink back if they share interest.

During correspondence, potential matches should read between the lines, gauging if a person is really who they say they are and to what degree, Bornstein said.

For example, if a person says they enjoy hiking, does that mean they go on one to two hikes a year or climb 14’ers?

For the first face-to-face meeting, matches should meet in a public place and somewhere between their homes if there is a significant distance involved.

It’s also a good idea to go Dutch, so if the match clearly is wrong, a person does not feel obligated to stay, Bornstein said.

Van Bezooyen, who was present at the talk, advised people not to make drastic decisions in the online dating process.

“Before you meet someone, don’t go selling your house and moving to Texas,” he said.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com