Online dating dos and don'ts

Tools

Anchor - Laura Emerson
Photojournalist - David Dycus
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

These days, when a couple tells you they met online, you probably don't raise an eyebrow.  That's because it's become so common.

You probably know the big ones, but there are a variety of websites out there designed to help you find a date, or a mate.

There are even specialty sites in case your taste is highly specific.

"I met people on video games.  Went from there, went to chat rooms.  Went from there, went to websites," Will Matthews said.

Matthews has about 10 years of online dating experience.  He prefers the site OKCupid.

"The questions and and answers that make up your profile.  That's just genius, that will bring you luck."

Brenda Jessup is new to the scene, but enjoys checking out the profile photos and descriptions of potential dates.

"You know, I hate to say it, but I'm kind of particular. Um, and so I enjoy reading them.  But sometimes I know pretty quickly that no, this would not work," Jessup said.

She signed up for Our Time after her busy schedule and a lack of introductions from friends made her decide to take action.

"I moved here from Florida three years ago and hadn't been dating, hadn't found anybody. Yeah, but I don't know anybody that I want to fix you up with,"

And it's been fun so far. 

"A man came on that I was real interested in, and I sent him a flirt, but I'm brand new at this.  I've only been doing it three or four weeks,"

As Will and Brenda use web technology to look for that right person, this couple already had it work for them.

"We come to find out we worked together and we'd worked together for over a year and we'd never met at the same hospital in Cape Girardeau," Neil Stringer said.

With more than 2,000 employees, it's not a surprise this biomedical engineer, now a master control operator here at Local 6, worked at the same place as Rose Stringer the registered nurse, but they only knew of each other after posting profiles on the website Plenty of Fish.

"He's got a daughter, so he put pics of that. I think that's kind of what I was looking for is somebody with children. You can see if they have children if they don't have children," said Rose.

After some chatting to get to know each other, their first face to face meeting went well.

"I got her to laugh pretty easily.  I thought, 'All right, this might work," Neil said.

They got married three years ago on the lawn of Paducah's Carson Center, and they're still holding hands.

"All you hear is the horror stories of online dating, and we're proof that there's a good side to online dating."

All four offer similar advice:  take your time.  Don't expect to find someone right away.  You might have a date or two with several people you will rule out.  That's to be expected.

Also, take your time before agreeing to a face to face meeting.  Not everyone is honest with the pictures or information they post.  You need to take the time to learn about the person and decide whether they are portraying themselves honestly first.

When you do decide to make the jump to a face to face meeting, the first one should be in a safe place with other people around.  Maybe meet for lunch or coffee.  Be cautious about revealing exactly where you live.

But in spite of these cautions, they say it's the way to go in this busy, electronics driven world if you find yourself single and wish you were not.

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