Women is...: Starting Your Search

Starting Your Search

So you want to take the plunge, but the World Wide Web is huge. Where do you go? A web site or newsgroup that caters to any nonromance interest of yours � say, antique Persian rugs � will involve people talking and meeting electronically, and many romances have grown from discussions of shared interests.

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Chat rooms abound online, and people enter them with the specific interest of meeting others. "A chat room is instant, so when people are lonely, they can sign on and instantly be connected to a potential partner or new friend," observes sociologist Robin Hamman of Britain's Hypermedia Research Centre. But the nature of these connections may not be your cup of tea. Hamman's studies of chat room users show that many participants are "sitting naked in front of their computers, sharing interactive sexual fantasies with each other." Adds Dr. Appell: "The search for real relationships there is rare."

An alternative is posting a personal ad online in a personals or dating registry, or joining an online dating service like Match.com, browsing their personals ads, and responding by email to those that pique your interest. "Posting in an online personals area is like placing a personals ad in the newspaper," says Hamman. "It could take days, even months, for anyone to reply to your ad if at all. The quality of responses, however, might be more satisfactory because only those who truly think they might be your 'match' tend to reply."

There is a guide to personals services online; it's called Cupid's Network. The site lists and has direct links to hundreds of dating and personals services, most of which you can browse on a trial basis at no cost. Dr. Appell recommends this as a place to invest some time. "Take care in selecting a network. Some are 'players' places," catering to the young-and-restless or to those in search of non-serious relationships. The more selective you are in matching a network to your interests and goals, the higher the quality of responses you get."