By Starrla Cray
WRIGHT, McLEOD, CARVER, MEEKER COUNTIES, MN At one point or another, 38 percent of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study.
“It’s more common now. Once you’re out of college unless you go to bars there’s not really a good way to meet people,” said 2004 Lester Prairie High School graduate Nicole Weisenburger, who met her boyfriend, Neil Kleve, through OkCupid.com.
Neil, who graduated from Dassel-Cokato High School in 2003, was skeptical of online dating at first.
“My buddy kind of convinced me to do it,” he said, admitting that he didn’t put a lot of effort into his profile.
But, since Neil was living in Lester Prairie at the time, his profile caught Nicole’s attention.
“I thought, ‘how could there be someone in Lester Prairie I don’t know?’” she recalled.
Nicole’s first date with Neil was about one month after they first started talking to each other.
“We went to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater comedy show,” she said. “He made reservations and bought flowers and everything.”
Stephen Klingelhoets of Delano also had success with OkCupid.com, and is marrying his fiancée, Melissa, in October.
“I tried eHarmony at one point, but the pool is limited,” he said, explaining that the service costs money, which might prevent some people from signing up.
He also looked at PlentyOfFish (POF), but quickly realized that the site was geared toward short-term relationships.
‘It just clicks’
Corrine Greiner of Dassel and her fiancé, Michael, have an upcoming wedding (in April) thanks to online dating, as well.
“He’s actually from Litchfield,” Corrine said. “I never thought someone in my backyard was someone I was going to be with.”
Corrine, a 1994 graduate of Dassel-Cokato High School, said people called her “brave” for trying a dating website, but she didn’t think of it that way.
“I wouldn’t really have an opportunity to find anyone through any other source,” she said. “I don’t go to bars, and I wouldn’t want to meet someone like that anyway.”
When Corrine signed up for ChristianMingle.com, she was hoping to find someone who shared her beliefs and values.
It took about six months before she met Michael. He had set up a basic profile, but didn’t buy a membership until he saw Corrine.
The two of them talked for a week or two on the phone before meeting in person. From then on, they were basically inseparable.
“Fairly fast, we knew,” Corrine said. “Once you find that person, it just clicks.”
Corrine and Michael both have children from previous relationships, and they’re looking forward to combining their two families into one.
Dave and Julie Marquardt of rural Howard Lake know what it’s like to find the right person, too. The two of them met on FarmersOnly.com, and have been married since 2007.
“It’s advertised in farmers magazines,” Dave said. “I believe both of our fathers actually saw it and gave the ads to us.”
Dave and Julie started e-mailing each other in fall 2005, and then spent time talking on the phone.
The couple didn’t meet in person until December, when Dave flew out to North Carolina where Julie was teaching.
“That weekend, they had an ice storm, and the power was out,” Dave said, adding that he was lucky the flights weren’t cancelled.
Later that month, the couple met in Wisconsin halfway between Minnesota and Julie’s hometown in Michigan.
“By that summer, we got engaged,” Dave said.
Now, the Marquardts are enjoying country life with their three children ages 5, almost 4, and almost 2.
Do’s and don’ts
For people who are thinking about creating an online dating profile, Neil and Nicole say to be complete, and be honest.
“When I was searching, if people only had a couple sentences, I’d skip over them,” Nicole said, adding that it’s also a good idea to include a photo.
“You want to be as truthful as possible,” Neil added.
Being accurate, yet not too personal, is key.
An article from eHarmony states that since the profiles are being read by strangers, they shouldn’t include a person’s specific place of work, home address, last name, or personal contact information.
The article also warns against rambling: “If your profile is 10 times longer than everyone else’s, it won’t be given much attention. Be concise, clear, and watch out for typos and grammatical errors.”
A perfect profile doesn’t guarantee instant results, however, and online daters often have to be patient.
Nicole said she had gone on about 13 dates through OkCupid.com before she met Neil.
Corrine’s advice is, “Stick to what you want and don’t settle.”
She also recommends that people who try online dating be careful, safe, and not too trusting.
“Meet in public,” she said. “That would be my biggest advice to anyone.”
One option for meeting people the first time is to go out for coffee or a drink.
“It doesn’t have to be locked in to a formal date; blind dates are too formal, too awkward,” Stephen said, explaining that a “meeting” instead of a “date” is less pressure, less time, and less expensive.
Findings from the Pew Research Center:
• Online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-20s through mid-40s.
• Two-thirds of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating site, and 23 percent say they have met a spouse or long-term relationship through these sites.
• Fifty-nine percent of all internet users agree with the statement that “online dating is a good way to meet people,” a 15-point increase from the 44 percent who said so in 2005.
Most popular sites
The top 10 most popular sites for online dating, according to www.ebizmba.com, include:
• Match 35 million estimated unique monthly visitors;
• PlentyOfFish 23 million;
• Zoosk 11.5 million;
• OkCupid 10.15 million;
• eHarmony 7.1 million;
• Badoo 6 million;
• ChristianMingle 5.5 million;
• OurTime 3.5 million;
• DateHookup 3 million;
• BlackPeopleMeet 1.2 million.