By: Stephanie Espina
When married couples like the Warners and the Shumways answer the inevitable question of how they first met, they aren’t surprised at people’s initial reactions: A wide-eyed expression that changes from shock to curious fascination. The couple, like 40 million other Americans in search of love, “logged on” never bearing the thought that they would ultimately find their soulmate.
According to NBC Nightly News, in 2006 online dating sites generated a whopping $768 million in revenue, evidence that many people are riding the new wave of modern dating. It’s estimated that this figure will nearly double at $1.4 million by 2010.
“For me, chatting online was an outlet to meet new people,” says Montana native, Lora Warner. “I lived in a small town and by talking online I could meet a lot of different people and I loved hearing different people’s stories.”
Lora and Justin Warner met ten years ago through Yahoo Chat, then, one of the few dating sites available on the Internet. After one year of chatting, e-mails, and eventually phone calls they finally decided to meet.
“He was in Chicago for a class trip and went out to St. Louis to visit his brother and I,” said Warner. “Then I went to see him in New York a few months later. When we did meet it was very comfortable because we knew each other so well.”
The Warners will be married six years this May and are the proud parents of a 1-year-old boy named Jacob.
“Some people who ‘knock’ online dating might not need it,” says Warner. “It has to be right for the person and they have to have the right expectations.”
With a bulk of the media spotlight resting on the deception or dangers of online dating and primetime television shows like Dateline NBC’s “How To Catch a Predator,” for the skeptical seeker, online dating doesn’t seem so appetizing. People like 30-year-old Justin Shumway roll their eyes at the thought.
“Some people are afraid they’re going to meet a creep,” says Shumway. “What they don’t understand is you can meet a creep anywhere.”
Justin and Ananda Shumway of Wappingers Falls, New York found each other on a popular online dating resource, Match.com,waiting just three weeks to meet in person and 22 months to tie the knot. The two married in October of 2008 and can say that they’ve found happiness as a result of online dating.
“I didn’t need to be brave and walk up to her,” said Shumway. “It was comfortable knowing she was there for the same reason.”
As for married life, Shumway describes it to be “great”.
Warner says, “Meeting online gave us our start, but like any relationship it takes work and we have grown together over time.”
“I mean [there are] ups and downs, but what couple doesn’t [have that]?…I love my wife more every day.”