The E-Date Chronicles: Meeting Your Match
Falling in love—or not—on Match.com, JDate, eHarmony, and other digital dating sites.
“I’ve always been a commitment phobe,” says Mary Marino, 55, a vivacious brunette who publishes a fashion website. “I’d had meaningful relationships, but I traveled a lot, and I tended not to get too involved.” That’s why Mary was still cruising solo when she hit the big five-o. But not anymore. Four years ago, Mary went online, and she clicked on a winner. This past September, she said yes to Larry Slous, 63, the man she’d met on the dating giant Match.com.
In the spring of 2006, Mary was running on empty. As the head of design for a retailer in Winnipeg, Canada, she was enduring a hellish commute from Brooklyn and a string of 60-hour-plus weeks. “I didn’t even know what day it was,” she recalls. Exhausted and fed up, she quit—and gave herself a gift. “I’d always been able to get jobs,” she says, “so I decided to take the summer off.” Encouraged by a neighbor who was meeting men galore on Match, she started surfing the site.
She had to acquire some screen smarts. “I developed radar for reading profiles,” she says. “I learned what to look for: Could he put a sentence together? What books did he read?” Mary also discovered that “high speed” was more than tech-speak for connecting fast. “There was this sense of urgency online,” she says. “After emailing and talking on the phone, a guy would say, ‘Can you meet me now? Or in two hours?’ I’d say, ‘How about Thursday?’ He’d say, ‘Great!’ And I’d never hear from him again.”
Three months into her logged-on life, “Larry’s picture dropped into my in-box,” she recalls. “The photo didn’t slay me—he was nice-looking but not drop-dead—but he had a nice smile, liked to read and travel, and wrote very well.” An attorney in New Jersey, Larry had been divorced since 2002. On July 4, they met in Grand Army Plaza for lunch and started dating a few times a week.
In October, Larry told Mary that she was the one—and she balked. “I told him, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t make the commitment. You’re really not my type.’ ” Reluctantly, Larry returned to Match , and so did Mary.
At the same time, her search for a new job proved fruitless in the down economy, so she started a web-based business. Larry offered to provide legal expertise gratis. “That was his excuse,” she says. “He’d come over several times a week, we’d work on the site, and then we’d have dinner.” The result was Flashionista, a twice-weekly e-newsletter for women over 45, which sells specialty jewelry and carries articles on fashion and style.
One day, at the keyboard, Larry fired a warning shot. “He said, ‘You know, I’m yours to lose, and I really think that you and I are perfect for each other, but I don’t want to be alone, and I’m going to meet somebody else.” Weeks later, Larry announced that he and a new woman from Match were going to Cancún in January.
“I was taken aback, but I thought, ‘Okay, this is what I told him to do,’ ” Mary remembers. But soon she began wondering where the roaming Larry was. “I called him one day, thinking he was back,” she says. Larry picked up, but he was still south of the border. “I felt weird about the call,” Mary admits. “But Larry was pleased that I was tracking him down.”
When he returned, Larry asked Mary to go to Los Angeles with him to visit his son. “After thinking it over, I finally said yes. And although I didn’t tell Larry, I knew that I was committing to him.” They flew to the West Coast in March. “After that trip,” she says, “we became a couple.” A month later, they bought an apartment in Brooklyn.
After living together for two years, they set a date. On September 12, 2010, they were married at The Waterside in North Bergen, New Jersey. “It was a rainy day, but the sky cleared during the ceremony,” Mary says. “For the rest of the evening, we had a glorious view of New York, and it was just magical.”
Judy Breslin (all names from here on are pseudonyms) hasn’t been so lucky in finding Mr. E-Right, but she’s certainly had some laughs. A 60-something, divorced graphics designer, Judy has tried a slew of mating sites over about eight years including Doglover.biz, DemocratMatch.com, DemocraticSingles.net (tag line: “Date within your Species”), and the now-defunct personals of TheOnion.com. (“For weirdos,” she says.)
One memorable evening, she met Nick Gatos, a 65-year-old artist from Match. “He showed up in a plumed hat and a jacket with gold braid, with lockets around his neck,” says Judy. Nick proceeded to open a locket. “He pulled out a piece of blue cloth, said it was a river, and laid it on the table,” she remembers. “Then he opened the other lockets and took out some tiny animal carvings, which he put on either side of the ‘river.’ He said, ‘Go ahead—move the animals around.’ ” So she did. She laughs. “It was truly a play date!”