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How to find love on the Internet.

Finding that special someone has never been more rewarding. The Internet provides HUNDREDS of sites that can help you find your soulmate.

How I did it:
At the age of 49, I became a widow. This was definitely not an experience for which I was prepared. There I was, a woman 13 years away from retirement and no one to share my golden years. The excuses are all too common. . . too old and wise to make the bar scene. . .too young to sit at home alone night after night.

I'd heard about the Internet romance sites, and being an open-minded person, I decided to check them out.

Internet Connections
There are several ways to meet people on the Net. I found three that were most effective:

1. Personal ads
2. Matchmaker websites
3. Chat rooms

Romance Personals:
It's easy! The hardest part is deciding what you're looking for in a partner. I made a list of the important attributes I was looking for in a man: hobbies, interests, values, lifestyle,geographical location, lovestyle, etc. Once my shopping list was in order, I had to take a good look at myself and list some of my better qualities. Next came the actual wording of a personal advertisement. I spent some time reading other's ads before composing my own. In my opinion, the best rule is keep it simple. Getting too flowery or poetic just muddies the waters, and sometimes your message gets lost in all the creativity.

Many of the romance personals allow space for a photograph. Believe me, it makes all the difference in the world. Not too photogenic? Not to worry! Places like Glamour Shots can make a silk purse from a sow's ear! Just look what they did for me!!

If you're nervous about placing an ad, you can always browse through the ads placed by "Men Looking for Women". If you see someone interesting, just drop them an email of introduction. I was surprised at how easy it was AND how many positive responses I received. In case you're wondering, my ad was titled "Flyfishermen. . .make me laugh!" It's the headline that caught my husband's attention.

The most important rule I followed was "slow and easy". . .learn all you can about a person before getting personal." I always directed interesting prospects to my favorite MatchMaker site where Step 2 began. A prospect could read my profile for more information. In order to do so, they would have to fill out a profile also. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about them before making further contact (by e-mail).

The MatchMaker
The MatchMaker must love me because I probably increased their data bank by a hundred men. I feel that everybody wins with this method. If the person doesn't turn out to be what you're looking for, at least you helped give him a new resource bank to draw from.

Admission to these sites is usually free for a trial period (two weeks to 30 days). Afterwards, you pay a monthly membership which averages about $10. I feel the money is well spent. The site provides you with your own mailbox. It's a relatively secure way to correspond and have control over the information your prospect receives.

To take advantage of the MatchMaker sites, you must register. Most of these sites ask you to fill out an exhaustive questionnaire about yourself. It can be a little intimidating, but just put your modesty in your hip pocket and fill out the form. Once you're finished, you'll have access to the profiles of hundreds of other people in search of that perfect "someone". Mr. or Ms. Right could be as close as your monitor!

You can also include your photograph in your profile. Believe me, a photo can increase your potential tremendously.

The honesty factor:
Of course, people can make up answers that make them more attractive on their profile. I've found that your best course of action is to remain cautious and use common sense, you'll be able to spot the phonies. For the most part, people are pretty honest. . .but there are also those who can be pretty deceptive. By taking your time and proceeding slowly and cautiously, you'll be able to weed out the "bad eggs".

Real world contact:
At some point, you'll want to actually meet this person in "real time." Now is not the time to throw all caution to the wind! A phone conversation is a good starting point. Until I felt comfortable, I'd get the other person's phone number and place a call to them from a pay phone or business phone. I never gave out my last name until I was absolutely certain I wasn't dealing with some sort of wierdo. Usually, after a few phone conversations and emails, we'd move to the next step of meeting face-to-face.

For safety purposes, I tried to include a cooperative third party in the initial meeting. Usually, it would be for a cup of coffee at a very public place. If all went well, we'd graduate to a lunch date "one-on-one." I found it advantageous to set a time limit to the date. This allowed for a graceful exit if the date turned sour.

CARDINAL RULE: At this stage of the game, meet them at a prearranged location. DO NOT have them pick you up at your home. Your car keys are your tool for a quick escape if things get uncomfortable.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to follow the "slow and easy" strategy. It's a cruel world out there, and your caution can eliminate a lot of embarrassment and frustration. . .not to mention plain old danger.

Introduce yourself to the millions of singles that are searching the

Love and Marriage (my story and happily ever after)

Hall of Fame/Hall of Shame (some acquaintances from my true-life experience.)


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