Online Love

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | e-mail | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - For those of you who are looking for love, you may be getting tired of the hunt. Have you ever consider using the Internet to find a mate?

If you're single, and you can't date someone from work, you're tired of the bar scene or your friends just aren't hooking you up with the right people, it may be time to put your computer to work. With a few clicks of the mouse you can open up your dating options and find your online love.

"I wasn't much of a goer-outer. So I decided to try the online thing," Johnathon King told news Leader Nine. And that's when he came across Tasha Hart's profile. "I found that late one night, home alone. So I shot her an e-mail and not two days later I was talking to her online."

After talking online for a few weeks, the two decided to meet in person and that's when their virtual relationship became a reality.

Tasha Hart loved seeing him for the first time, "I don't believe in love at first sight, but it was. It really, really was. I was like, "wow, that's a weird feeling". I was in shock but it was a nice feeling."

After getting to know each other, the couple got engaged. They never imagined they would find their match on the Internet, but now they recommend it to anyone.

"I would say give it time, search around, find a site that works for you and put your likes and dislikes, what you're looking for and see what happens," said Hart.

And it did happen for Shane and Melinda Ragan. Shane in his 40's and Melinda in her 30's both tried E-harmony as a way to meet new people.

"I had been married before for a short time. It had been about a year since I had been with that person and I wasn't dating anyone at the time and a friend suggested I use an online dating service," said Melinda. Shane was frustrated as well, "I just figured there's got to be some way to meet somebody. I saw a commercial for E-harmony and I liked what it said about the profile and it made sense."

They each reviewed several matches, but something in cyber space drew them to each other.

"We have a lot in common, but she's in Birmingham. I was looking at her pictures - because we both posted pictures from the beginning, no surprises - and in one picture she had a Georgia hat on. That Georgia hat made me respond to her first e-mail and from there on we learned all we had in common. I'm glad she had that Georgia hat on because I wouldn't have responded," Shane laughed.

After exchanging e-mails, it was time for a face-to-face meeting.

"When she got out of the car it was just one of those things you know. Wow, she's everything she said she was. It was just... I knew! But I had some fear too because this is the person, at least that's what my heart was telling me," said Shane. Melinda felt the same way, "I knew this was definitely the one. Everything fit together. It was very natural and that's how we knew it was right."

Although they met in an unconventional way, Melinda says they aren't shy about sharing their story, "When people ask me how I met Shane that's the first thing I tell them so they understand it really can happen. It's not just the couples they see on TV it really is a way for people to meet and it can work out!"

And let's face it, dating is work. Relationship experts, like Dr. Richard Long, contend that online dating isn't any riskier than traditional methods and in fact, has some benefits. Long teaches a course on marriage at Columbus State University and is a family counselor, "If you think of the time spent at work places or in church groups or in bars trying to figure out who's a good match, it takes a whole lot of time and it's kind of nice that online is efficient in doing that."

If you've reached a later stage in your life, Internet dating may seem a bit unconventional. But Mike and Gail LaFramboise were in their 50's and 60's when they decided to try their hand at love, one more time.

Mike told News Leader Nine, "I had been divorced for two years and I decided I wanted to start dating again. So I had talked to people and they said the 21st century dating is online now and I looked at several different websites."

After answering several personal questions on the site, Mike started to get cold feet, "I was going to try to wipe out the profile, but you can't do that. I started getting matches. I initially ignored that but my curiosity got the best of me."

Mike says he searched through several E-harmony matches, "But I just kept coming back to Gail. I'm not sure what it was."

As the relationship progressed, it was only natural they meet. Mike caught a plane to Atlanta and Gail went to pick up her new love interest, "It was exciting. It was love at first sight," Gail exclaimed.

Gail says they introduced their families and now have their happily ever after, "It's pretty incredible. When you look back on the last five years you look at where we started and where we are now."

While some singles are skeptical about becoming vulnerable, Dr. Long says online dating sites can actually act as your wingman, "Something like E-harmony makes a really great website because they can raise the questions that are in the back of their mind to see if it will work out or not."