Digital love: Many turning to the online dating world for a potential soulmate


(Illustration by Chelsea Kleven/Lead Designer)

Online dating has worked wonders for Mark Ranzenberger.

Ranzenberger, The Morning Sun’s online editor and Central Michigan University journalism adjunct faculty member, met his wife, Karen, on Yahoo! Profiles in December 2002.

They instant-messaged for hours the first day, then met up in St. Ignace, where the sparks immediately started to fly.

“She turned out to be an overweight spinster who lived with her cat,” Mark said as his wife laughed. “I turned out to be three inches shorter than her.”

The pair married in 2004 and are now raising a family of four kids together.

However, the Internet did not give a straight shot to happiness for Ranzenberger, as he described an early experience that got no further than the first phone call.

“She asked if I had ever been to jail,” he said. “She said that she had been to jail for domestic violence. ‘I didn’t mean to run over my ex with the pickup truck!’”

A sea of potential partners

Ranzenberger is just one of millions of people that use the Web for finding a partner.

In fact, a Harris Interactive survey done for dating site eHarmony in 2007 found that 2 percent of all United States marriages began on the site — a number that is only growing.

And while the fastest expanding age segment is the 50-plus category, lesser long-term commitment-focused dating Web sites such as have seen similar growth.

Since the site’s 2003 beginning, it has ballooned to more than 900,000 members.

Detroit senior Bryan White does not think these sites are anything to be afraid of. But he said they certainly are not for everyone.

“I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to meet people who aren’t around anyone they’re interested in,” White said.

White used, a free dating Web site, for several years. It has helped him strike up a number of relationships, which have lasted a few months.

Is it for you?

One widespread con of online dating, however, is the honesty factor — some dating site users tend to exaggerate physical characteristics.

According to research completed at Michigan State University, almost 52.6 percent of men participating, along with 39 percent of women, lied about their height in the online dating world. About 64.1 percent of women lied about their weight. Also, 24.3 percent of men and 13.1 percent of women gave false ages.

Many college students with active night lives do not think of online dating as a useful option.

Novi junior Lauren Buckley might consider it if her career eats up her free time after entering the professional world.

“Originally, I thought it was creepy, but so many of my friends have met people (through online dating) — I’m starting to warm up to it,” Buckley said.

She has a family friend who met her husband online, but she still prefers the old-fashioned way to get to know potential love interests.

“I think it’s more fun to meet people in life,” Buckley said.

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