Women is...: Love Stories

Love Stories

It was Valentine's Day, 1997, and Beverly Appell, in her mid-40s, was newly located in rural Tennessee when she began a systematic online search for some kind of relationship. What started as curiosity became a daily ritual. Every morning before leaving for work she selected one state's personal ads to explore. She began on the east coast and moved west � electronically.

On April 18 she hit California. There she found an ad, posted on Valentine's Day, by Dr. Appell. Many months of emailing followed and, eventually, a meeting was planned. But Beverly became skittish about traveling all the way to San Francisco to meet a stranger, so she arranged a proxy meeting between Kenneth and an old friend in the Bay area whose opinion she could trust. "You have a wonderful man out here," her friend told her after the meeting. "You've got the world waiting for you out here."

William R., a divorced management expert in his early 50s, runs a major professional organization in New York City. He uses a personal screen name that reflects his preferred vacation spot � it's something like "WyomingMan." One day while he was online an interloper sent him an instant message � Do you really love Wyoming?

The messager was a divorced single mom, a 45-year-old school administrator living in the New York suburbs who had begun a quest for companionship by entering a few keywords into a search of the membership directory at America Online. A mutual interest in hiking out west led to many conversations with William and a very successful in-person meeting. A year of courtship and, two months ago, marriage, followed.