Computer Love: Couples connect through online dating sites

The lurking shadows of Valentine’s Day remind us how many single people in the United States find themselves looking for new ways to find love. Even though many shy away from the perceived desperation of online dating, 40 million of the average 54 million singles have at least given it a shot in finding true love.
The benefits of looking for love online are numerous and can best be summed up by the following couples’ personal accounts.

The Pickles
Diane Pickle, whose username was TriCitiesLady, was very specific when listing her requirements on Match.com, the dating site she signed up for in 2008 at the urging of her sister.

COURTESY PHOTO THE PICKLES – Robert and Diane Pickle lived apart for a year after being married until she could move to Amory. However, the two instantly clicked when they met face-to-face after originally meeting online.

COURTESY PHOTO
THE PICKLES – Robert and Diane Pickle lived apart for a year after being married until she could move to Amory. However, the two instantly clicked when they met face-to-face after originally meeting online.

“I wasn’t sure about it, but my sister asked what the difference was between meeting someone online as opposed to somewhere else, so I did it,” said Diane who, at 5 foot 10 inches, wanted to meet a man who was at least 6 foot 2 inches.
After going on a few lunch dates with no success, frustration set in so at the suggestion of her sister, Diane made the one tiny adjustment that changed everything.
“I knocked the height requirement down to 6 foot 1, hit the button and immediately hit cheerfulgolfer. After getting 87 percent and 92 percent matches with other people, it said that I matched this person 100 percent.”
For the man behind the cheerfulgolfer username – Robert Pickle of Amory, dating of any kind had become too difficult.
“I prayed saying ‘Lord, if I’m supposed to get remarried, then you take care of it. I’m done.’ I just started playing golf.”
Late one night, Robert logged on to his Match.com account and saw he had a wink.
“There was no picture and normally I wouldn’t have even opened it, but everything I had prayed for was in Diane’s profile, so I winked back,” Robert said.
After a couple of weeks of emailing back and forth, the Pickles had their first lunch date and when Robert asked to bless the food, Diane was impressed.
Things moved quickly after that and four months later, Robert proposed on Christmas Day.
The Pickles will celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary this June.
“Diane has made me the happiest person in the world. I never knew I could be this happy. It’s a God thing,” Robert said.
The Schulenbergs

COURTESY PHOTO THE SCHULENBERGS – Laura and Stefan Schulenberg met, got engaged and were married in less than a year. Laura jokingly said she's happy the relationship has lasted longer than celebrity Kim Kardashian's previous marriage.

COURTESY PHOTO
THE SCHULENBERGS – Laura and Stefan Schulenberg met, got engaged and were married in less than a year. Laura jokingly said she’s happy the relationship has lasted longer than celebrity Kim Kardashian’s previous marriage.

Amory native Laura McShane had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and was looking for a way to get back into the dating scene when she signed up for Match.com in the fall of 2011.
“I had just moved back to the area. Most of my friends had already gotten married and I was trying to expand my horizons.”
After going on a few dates, Laura began to exchange emails with Stefan Schulenberg and the two decided to go out for a movie.
“When you’re on a date, you know immediately if you want to see that person again. I knew within the first half-hour that I wanted to go back out with him,” said Laura who credits a horrible date movie with giving the two plenty to talk about over coffee.
Stefan and Laura continued to date and were soon engaged. The two were married on June 15 of last year.
“If you would have told me that I would meet, get engaged and get married all within one year, I would say you’re crazy. After meeting Stefan, I just knew. Once you’re sure, there’s no point in waiting.”
The Oakes

EMILY TUBB/ MONROE JOURNAL ONLINE LOVE – Brad and Roxanne Oakes met through Match.com in 2003. The couple, who have two children, will celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary this year.

EMILY TUBB/ MONROE JOURNAL
ONLINE LOVE – Brad and Roxanne Oakes met through Match.com in 2003. The couple, who have two children, will celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary this year.

Georgia native and Hamilton transplant Roxanne Oakes decided that even though she posted a picture of herself online, she was not going to respond to photos.
“I looked at a couple of different profiles and thought, ‘Nope.’ So I decided that if I was really going to do this, it was going to have to be blind.”
When Aberdeen native Brad sent Roxanne a message, she responded based on the fact that they had similar backgrounds and were both looking for a relationship instead of something casual.
The date was supposed to consist of dinner and a movie, but the conversation flowed so smoothly that the couple missed the beginning of the movie and opted to walk around Wal-Mart together instead.
“You can learn a lot about someone by walking around Wal-Mart with them,” Roxanne said.
Brad, who was stationed in Warner Robbins, Ga., with the U.S. Air Force at the time, flew to Florida the next day for training and spent most of the week’s free time on a payphone with Roxanne.
Exactly one year later, at the same Cheddars [Casual Cafe], Brad proposed to Roxanne. The couple, who now have two sons together, will celebrate nine years of marriage this year.
According to Statistics Brain, 17 percent of marriages in 2012 started through online dating sites. The average length of courtship for marriages that began online are 18.5 months as opposed 42 months with couples who met offline. Nearly 20 million of those using eHarmony.com, rivaled only by Match.com with 15 million.
Other popular sites include Chemistry.com, Christianmingle.com and PlentyofFish.com, among hundreds more.
Those looking for love online can also choose from more specific sites, such as Tastebuds.fm where people are matched based on their taste in music or DateMySchool, a site dedicated to verified college students and alumni.
The biggest draw for most people is the ability to find someone with common interests just by filling out a profile. There are around 400 questions to fill out on the eHarmony survey, allowing the client to be as specific as possible.
While there’s still a stigma attached to online dating, those who do find love claim that it’s the best decision they’ve ever made and offered the following tips:
The Oakes – Stay open-minded, meet at a public location and if you don’t like them, don’t see them again.

The Schulenbergs – Consider the information that you put out there. Don’t get too hung up on the parameters that you set, be flexible. Be willing to have fun regardless.
The Pickles- Go for it! Be open and honest about where you stand. Never settle for 92 percent! </b>