LDS Internet Dating

When I was on my mission to Colorado in the late 70s, I recall the local bishop showing me a letter he had just received. It was from a man who lived on the other side of the state, a widower with a 10-year old son, and included a picture of them standing by the man’s Cessna plane. It was basically in letter form a personal ad. The bishop posted the letter and picture on the ward bulletin board.

Later, I saw the same letter and picture posted on a meetinghouse bulletin board a substantial distance away. And I decided I really admired that guy for trying so hard. He must have put together at least dozens, if not hundreds, of snail mail letters (the only kind that existed at the time) and sent them all over the Rocky Mountains, looking for love.

In the first ward where I saw this letter, there was a single woman we were good friends with, and I encouraged her to respond. (He looked like a decent guy and, while I’m no judge, he seemed good looking. At least he wasn’t short, fat or bald.) She was intrigued and thought about it, but ultimately never pulled the trigger on a response. I think she thought it would be beneath her to respond to such a letter.

Well, that was all a long time ago. We have now gone through the era of print personal ads (I remember Sunstone tried that out for awhile, but they never had more than about four ads and the idea never gained any traction there) to internet dating websites.

It seems to me that such websites have the potential to help resolve the main impediment to Mormon dating, which is geographical distance. And with pictures and greater detail, they strike me as a big advance over print personal ads. But while in theory it seems like they ought to be a boon to older LDS singles looking for love, we all know that theory often runs headlong into practice.

I have no experience with internet dating to offer, and I’ve never seen a blog post on the subject. So here’s your chance to enlighten the rest of us. Does internet dating work in the Mormon context? Do you know people that have married through that means? Do you have horror stories? Any cautions or warnings you would care to share? What are your experiences?

Comments

  1. At least he wasn’t short, fat or bald

    Hey, I thought Capt. Picard made bald the new sexy!

  2. At least he wasn’t short, fat or bald

    But was he moustachioed?

  3. To answer Kevin’s question, there is at least one couple in our stake here in Colorado Springs that met on an LDS dating site. They have two twin boys, about three years old, and seem to be doing well.

  4. I’ve seen internet dating work for several people. In Japan especially, where I served my mission, it has worked wonderfully well for a couple of my good friends. One of them met a Japanese person living in America, established a relationship with them via phone and mail over the pacific ocean, and married about a year later.

    I’m 25, single, and I have perused the common lds social networking sites such as ldslinkup or ldssingles, but I’ve never seriously created a profile or explored it because I don’t think it works well for most people. And I think I’m included in “most people.”

    I just can’t get over the fact that it doesn’t really matter how much a person writes about his or herself, or how many pictures they post – the fact is, reality is often extremely different and compatibility between two real people trying to present themselves to each other through the lens of their minds adds an almost insurmountable probability that it’s not going to work out the way you’d like it to.

    But that’s just my opinion and a few tip-of-the-iceberg thoughts. Obviously this hasn’t been the experience for some.

  5. A young woman we met when she returned home from her mission several years ago dated a local guy before meeting another fellow on an LDS dating website. They were quickly married and now they seem to be doing very well, including their three kids.

    My HP Group Leader was widowed 8-10 years ago. He met his current wife online.

    Our ward’s new YM President (sustained in the same meeting in which he was released from the bishopric) met his wife online also.

    It happens, and my anecdotal experience is that couples who meet this way and marry are just like couples who meet in other ways.

  6. I think the internet is a fine place to meet people, but a terrible place to date people. Dating requires real face time over an extended period.

    I have a good friend who, like many LDS single women, felt that she was moving on in age and not getting anywhere near marriage, so she put up an on-line profile. She got answered by a man nearly 2 decades her senior, married several time over including a day-long marriage and annulment the previous year. Although she lived in Washington state and he lived in NY, they “dated,” saw each other twice, and were married within 3 months. She really wanted kids and a priesthood holder in her life. I won’t go into what he wanted.

    Turns out he was ex-communicated. Although he promised to get his life in order so they could be sealed, 3 kids later, he is still not a priesthood-holder. My friend seems to be making do with the situation, but it makes me very very sad–this is not the life she was after.

    So I repeat: meet on-line, sure, no shame in that. But date in person, please! If you really think you have a future with someone, isn’t it better to get confirmation on that by at least living in the same city for a year before marrying?

  7. Internet dating has become common for members in Europe, where a limited number of members live in your area or even in your country. I know of some marriages which have grown out of them, but the distance involved means difficult decisions about where to live and what language to speak and how to resolve culture clashes require complex solutions.

  8. There is a couple in our ward who met on an LDS singles site, they seem very happy and now have 4 children.

    Another girl I know who had pretty much despaired at ever finding the right guy, found, dated and ultimately married a guy from LDS Singles. I believe it was the fourth or fifth try for her with online dating. They seem very happy also.

    In a third instance a girl from Utah met a guy in Georgia, and he was willing to relocate to Utah for the relationship to be tried out in person before marrying – they’ve been married 2 years and seem happy.

    I used to be very skeptical about online dating, but it does seem to work for a lot of people. I know of one other LDS couple where she was from Denmark and he from the US, she moved here so they could marry and that relationship seems happy and healthy as well.

  9. #6 – What ESO said.

    I know people who met on-line and are happy, but without exception they dated in person. I know there are exceptions, but the one woman I know who met and “dated” on-line was from Alabama. The man lived in the Inter-Mountain West, I forget where exactly. He appeared to be a wonderful man. She flew out to his location for the wedding; they married; she got pregnant; he left her; she returned to Alabama.

    Meet and communicate on-line to your hearts content; date in person before making a commitment. Also, I would suggest attending church with the person in their home ward or branch. There are some little details that aren’t hard to gauge in that situation, especially if you are willing to pull people aside and ask some pretty direct questions.

  10. Wow – lots of people have “friends” but no personal experience.

    I raise my hand. I did it. And I am happily married due to an LDS online dating service. There are at least 2 other couples in my ward who have done the same.

    I was 29… newly divorced… one child… working full-time. I didn’t quite fit in with the singles ward (the child thing…) and I didn’t quite fit in with the SA scene (the age thing…). When I did hang out with the YSA, it was just that. A lot of hanging out. And quite frankly, I didn’t have time to hang out. I wanted/needed to date. I was looking to get remarried (and I have no qualms about being quite frank about that).

    Just like anything on the internet, you have to use caution. Just because someone is LDS doesn’t automatically give them a “safe” pass. I dated A LOT. More than I ever dated at BYU. Some of the guys were so far out there, it was obvious they were not my type. But honestly, I met a lot of really high quality, great guys. My husband lived in Utah, I was in Texas. Our meeting/courtship/engagement lasted 1-1/2 years. He relocated to Texas when we married.

    For me, it was a quick, easy screening tool. Like I said, I didn’t have tons of time to devote to ‘hanging out’, cruising dances (that lasted once…). It was a great time saver.

  11. “It was a great time saver.”

    How romantic! Just kidding–I am very happy that it worked out for you.

  12. I will also own up to some personal experience. In my case it was a short but intense period of on-line activity, but nothing ever came of it. It did fill a nice gap for me between serious in-person relationships.

    A girl I baptized on my mission (Mexico) met a guy in Utah and moved up to the US to attend the ELC in Provo and be close to him. In my mind, they are doing the right thing- a couple of months of in-person dating, just like so-called “normal” couples get.

    Our generation(s) (I am 27) still think that this online dating thing is a little weird if not downright dangerous. However, I predict that to our kids and grandkids, it will be second nature to try it. There are a lot of interesting and dateable, marriageable people outside of your immediate vicinity, no matter where you live (even Utah). Now it seems that people are turning to Internet dating out of desperation. In the future, it will just be a way to broaden your social network of friends and potential mates.

  13. My sister married a guy she met in an LDS themed chat room and they seem to be doing fine. They have been married for about 10 years and have three children. She is kind of embarrassed about how she met him, but I think he is good for her.

    I have to echo the idea that you need to date someone in person before marrying them. Taking time to figure out each others quirks is really important. Ignoring this advice will cause problems in the long run.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    I too like ESO’s idea that it should be used as a finding tool, but must be followed by actual in-person dating experience. Great tip.

  15. Can fellow bloggernites advertise here? My name is Carrie, I’m 27, PhD student, single…

    I’ve tried a couple of LDS Internet sites. I think one issue for me is that in people’s profiles (including my own) they tended to get a little too intense and too personal. In real life when you meet someone you gradually get to know them. You’re not overwhelmed with random details and people’s weird quirks.

    I might have to go back to Internet sites though because I live in the South and there’s not that many opportunities for dating here.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Sure, Carrie LC, you can advertise here. If you meet a keeper through our blog we’ll do part of your wedding reception as a podcast.

  17. Eric Russell says:

    Yes, great tips folks. But here’s the deal: the type of person who actually decides to marry someone they’ve never dated in real life probably has much bigger issues than the fact that they’re marrying someone they’ve never dated in real life.

  18. Good story (so far): my office-mate is now engaged to someone he met over the internet. He has 2 kids, she has 2 kids, sounds like it’s working out.

    Bad story: An old friend tried it out and got a lot of weird guys, including one who wanted to add her as a polygamous wife. Another took her on a scenic drive to a remote location and showed her his gun. (No innuendo there.)

    I’d say that it’s probably a good way to meet people, get to know them online and build up a rapport, then meet in person and see how it goes from there. I’d recommend meeting in public places, though!

  19. I guess you could sort of count me on that list. I was a member of ldslinkup but had never used the site for dating, just for keeping in touch with friends from the many singles wards I had been in over a decade. My sister called one night to let me know that she had given my email address to a friend of a friend on linkup because he looked perfect for me. She didn’t know him. I could have killed her. She had also let this guy know that I would be flying into Salt Lake (where he lived) the next day to spend Thanksgiving with my family. He emailed. He called. He seemed normal and I figured a date couldn’t be any more painful than some I had recently been on. We went out twice over Thanksgiving and spent almost every day together when I was home for 6 weeks over Christmas. That’s when we decided to try long distance. Five months later he had a job transition and moved to where I was living and four months after that we were married.

    It can work, but I think the key is to meet in person shortly after “meeting” online. I’ve had several friends who also met their spouse online and they say the same thing.

  20. Rameumptom says:

    I’ve seen it work and not work. The problem with relationships that play themselves out on the Internet or via letter, etc., is there is always the chance at least one of the people is playing a role. It is easy to be sympathetic, kind, and understanding in an email. It is easy to share one’s good points, and hide the bad stuff, until it is too late.
    While the Internet stretches across geography, many do not take into consideration the differences in cultures, even within a country. California Barbie can be very different in likes and modes of thought from a conservative Southerner.
    What if in her world, parents pamper and allow her to play and go to college, while in the boy’s world he expects the wife to have babies, clean the home and cook the meals? Cultural conflicts can quickly occur in such instances.
    Meeting people online is fine, but those involved need to take the time to truly get to know each other in person, prior to taking any big steps towards marriage. Working out the big issues Before one says, “I do” can make the difference between a lasting and loving marriage, and a messy divorce with kids.

  21. We recently went to a wedding of two friends who met on the internet. (They had both lost their spouses several years ago, he lived on the east coast she on the west, grown children).
    Anyway, when the sealer ask them where they met there was nervous laughter and they said “online.” The sealer said, “don’t be embarrassed, I hear that all the time now.”

    It appears not to be that uncommon anymore.

  22. I’ve mentioned before that Left Field and I met online, back in the mid/late 90s when it was edgy and dangerous. I posted a profile on LDSFriends just to see what would happen. (A friend pointed me to it, I think as a joke. She was a bit surprised when I posted a profile.) Left and I corresponded for several months, spoke on the phone a few times, then had our first meeting inside the Chicago temple. We saw each other about every two weeks for about five months after that. Some of my happiest memories of our dating phase are of making out in a parked car in Findlay, Ohio. One time it was about 4 degrees outside, and the windows frosted over. Good times!

    We got engaged after about five months of dating, which included daily correspondence and frequent phone calls to go with our fortnightly visits. We were married three months after we got engaged. We’ve been married for eleven years now. He adopted my older son after we’d been married for just over a year and we have a nine-year old together.

    One of the things Left was looking for was someone fairly nearby. I was in Central Ohio, and he was in Southern Michigan, so it was doable to actually see each other. He met a very nice woman who lived in Provo when he lived in Southern Michigan, but she was in Provo. Not conducive to dating. Lucky me!

    I did get correspondence from other guys. One seemed like fun, but he lived in Provo (see above.) Another turned out to be, umm, MARRIED, trolling for a single woman to help out with his wife because she had some serious health problems and he was a pilot. Big Love, anyone? He didn’t mention that until about the third letter, when I asked him how he happened to be still single in his late 30s. I didn’t write back, and I don’t think he was surprised or disappointed. He was looking for someone with no ties. That wasn’t me. Oh, and the caretaker of the wife of a married man I barely knew wasn’t me, either.

    When I expressed my apprehension to Left about how serious we seemed to be getting after only meeting in Real Life a couple of times, he replied that courtship by correspondence is an old custom. Left is an introvert, and a wonderful writer. Putting things on paper allowed us to get to know each other inside before we were distracted by more superficial things. I was probably in love with him before I ever met him.

    Our first meeting was inside a temple; that was deliberate on my part. I was looking for a temple worthy guy, and if he couldn’t get in, then that would indicate that he wasn’t all that he said he was. I know that was important to him, too. He was sort of subtle about scoping that out before we met: “What temple district is (your town) in? We’re in Toronto. (insert customs stories here.)”

    Another couple in my ward met online. They have four young children and seem very happy.

  23. I’m seeing a lot of comments from people that seem to indicate that there is a belief out there that people meet online, never meet in person, and then decide to get married. Maybe that happens in some cases, but my experience (and my husband’s experience) was more like this:
    - “meet” online (“winks”/”smiles”, e-mails, etc)
    - IM/e-mail (initially it is anonymous through the site you’ve “met” on)
    - phone calls
    - real live dates

    Everyone is right – stuff on the internet can be censored/controlled/etc. For me, online “dating” was more of a way to be introduced to men I would want to meet in real life. It was not a substitute for in-person interactions – but a way to facilitate those in-person interactions.

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for that, Ann. I recall hearing pieces of that story, but I appreciate this fuller version. I agree with Left Field that correspondence can be an important part of courtship. My wife and I were just friends while I was on my mission, but we wrote each other and she was an extremely talented letter writer, she wrote these long, fascinating letters, and she would decorate the envelopes with her original artwork. That two-year correspondence established a foundation for us to actually fall in love later in person at BYU.

  25. Kevin, your wife’s letters sound like my wife’s – and nothing at all like mine.

  26. It worked for me and I was always rather opposed to the idea.

    My wife and I actually started talking first on Nauvoo.com, in the Singles forum on a thread about various internet dating sites.

    Based on the conversations I tried ldsmingle.com and we got each others profiles. Add that to our ongoing conversation at Nauvoo, and she e-twisted my e-arms into asking her out in real life, and we are now happy parents of two boys.

  27. We have now gone through the era of print personal ads (I remember Sunstone tried that out for awhile, but they never had more than about four ads and the idea never gained any traction there)

    Plus, some of the Sunstone ads came across as jokes/hoaxes.

  28. I think it is like anything-there are great stories, and horror stories.

    I know someone who met a “good LDS man” on one of the LDS sites. They married, and a short time later (within weeks) of being married she found out he was dealing drugs and had a warrant out for his arrest for assault. It was at that time she realized she was pregnant. If I remember, she ultimately gave her baby up for adoption.

    I also had a guy in a singles ward who was, um, “different” (That is code for very, very bizarre). He couldn’t click with any of the girls in the ward because he was so different. He met a girl online who totally got him. They have been married for around 5-6 years and seem really happy.

    I think that it does open up possibilities you may never have for good (like my male friend) or bad (like my female friend). Like everything else, you need to use caution.

  29. So, for someone in their late 50s, single, never-married, temple-worthy, who is willing to try the online dating thing, where does one start? What dating sites seem to work?

  30. anonymousforthis says:

    My father who is a widower and temple worker in his 80s has been using some of the lds matchmaking sites to meet age appropriate sisters on line, and then made some trips to meet them in person. No engagement announcement yet.

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    Jones, a quick google search suggests the following:

    ldssingles.com is sort of the granddaddy of them all, I think. Then there’s

    ldsplanet.com
    ldsromances.com
    singlesaints.com
    ldspals.com

    And here’s a previous post I found in the same google search from Ronan two years ago along the same lines that might be useful to you.

  32. Kevin Barney says:

    Jones, I tried to post some links, but it got caught in the spam trap. But there’s some discussion of various sites here.

  33. MikeInWeHo says:

    Interesing tidbit:

    LDS Singles (LDSsingles.com) is owned by Spark Networks, a public company that puts up dating web sites for lots of other groups as well. They all look similar and use fake stock photos on the home page. Many of the Spark sites allow people to search for a same-gender spouse if they want, although LDS Singles, Catholic Mingle, and Baptist Singles Connection do not so perhaps a modicum of market research has been done. :)

    You can see all the other sites owned by Spark Networks here.

  34. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    #22
    Ann – I love the idea of having your first meeting inside the temple. What a great way to weed out the posers. He had to be able to get IN.

  35. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Wait…not that people without Temple Recommends are posers (or that all those with one are keepers). I meant that it was a nice way to find out whether he was “as advertised”.

  36. My sister met her husband online; both were in CA. Then they proceeded to very gradually date for 18 months or so, before they got married.

  37. I also had a guy in a singles ward who was, um, “different” (That is code for very, very bizarre). He couldn’t click with any of the girls in the ward because he was so different. He met a girl online who totally got him. They have been married for around 5-6 years and seem really happy.

    That a guy with different personality might not click in a single ward, is more of a statement about singles wards than about the guy.

  38. About three years ago I was a non-LDS woman hanging out on the discussion board of a free LDS dating site. (The story of how I ended up there is long, dramatic, and stupid, so I’ll spare you.) I was openly non-LDS and was not looking to poach a Mormon boy from the site, but that’s exactly what happened. I was looking for advice, not romance, but eventually I developed a close email friendship with one of the site’s members. A few months later he suggested we meet (we were about 700 miles apart), and since he did not set off my highly sensitive creep-radar, I agreed. (Of course, he had other qualities besides not being a creep, but my point is I felt safe meeting him).

    So we arranged a 24 hour meeting in a city roughly halfway between us (rhymes with Vas Legas) and seemed to connect (not in a physical way). What ensued was a long period of flying back and forth to visit each other about every 2 -4 weeks, as our schedules permitted. After 18 months of doing that, he proposed, and 3 months after that we married and I moved to be with him.

    Someone here suggested living in the same city for a year before marrying. About halfway through our courtship, in fact, my husband suggested that it would be a good idea if I moved to Utah so we could do just that. I refused, though, not willing to relocate just to date someone. I would have to have a commitment (engagement or marriage)of some sort.

    I think the main reason we are a success story is that we did not have unrealistic expectations. Before we met in person, we agreed that the meeting was a “Just to see” kind of thing, not a Love Quest with instant pay-offs. Our relationship was really just like any other. We had arguments, times where it looked like we might break up, and the certainty that we were “the one” for each other was far from instantaneous. Second to misrepresenting one’s self, I think it is expecting too much too soon that makes most romantic possibilities (whether they began online or not) fizzle out.

  39. I’d like to echo the comments about letter-writing as a great way to get to know someone.

    My wife and I knew each other for 5 years before we married, but for 3.5 of that, we were writing each other letters on our respective missions (and not as bf/gf, but as friends).

  40. I’m extremely close friends with a guy who met his wife on an LDS internet dating site.

  41. It’s been great reading all these comments. I’m married but have several friends who I’m concerned for. Meeting compatible LDS people in Ontario Canada can be a real challenge. I’ll point some of them to this post.

    Great post, and even better comments. Thanks all.

  42. I’m 32 and single. I’ve tried LDS online dating off and on for several years. I’ve got many friends who’ve met their spouses online, all remain happily married. I’ve met some great friends (male and female) by dating and organizing get-togethers. I’ve made out with a few men, so I suppose it hasn’t been a complete flop. It does take some time to wade through all the crap, but that’s dating in general. A necessary evil. My only real advice is the same as everyone else’s: you’ve got to get on the phone or in person almost immediately. You just can’t get to know someone until you’ve talked to and/or met them.

  43. I have seen it work out for several couples. Although, my husband and I almost never started dating because of email miscommunication, so online relationships can definitely have their downsides.

    I tried online before meeting my husband (which I did at church), and I found, however, that I was very uncomfortable with people expressing interest in me based only on a picture and limited information. Then again, I was uncomfortable with dating in general so that comment might not mean much.

    I think geography is big problem for all couples, not just Mormons. It is great if one person can relocate, but so many of my peers are in never-ending, long-distance relationships, because their jobs don’t allow them geographic mobility. I can’t say that I would be willing to quit a job or relocate for someone I wasn’t fully committed to. Cynical though this may seem, I actually think people should consider prioritizing dating people with compatible career choices or geographic locations. I have seen so many relationships end over this issue.

  44. Also, I found putting a photograph online to be a very double-edged thing. On the one hand, with no photo, no one will speak with you. On the other hand, a photo generated a lot of weird inquiries and scared me away.

  45. #33 – Mike, I was wondering how the classic LDS dating sites would work for you. :)

  46. Out of curiosity, do men tend to do more asking of women on online dating sites? Do expectations about who should ask who bleed onto the web environment?

  47. Nadine N. says:

    I would just caution to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. My never-married best friend, an erstwhile 40year old temple worker, was seduced by several wackos in the space of a year– some initiating phone sex or sending lewd photos on first contact. Many of these guys were current or former bishops, stake leaders, etc. A couple were still married.

  48. merrybits says:

    Jones, I have the same dilemma – where to start. I’m in my mid-40′s, had a temple marriage to Satan which is, thankfully, over. I’m very active in Church but am a bit introverted and a complete science-geek. It’s scary out there.

  49. #47 – “Many” bishops and stake leaders (a “few” married ones) of “several” on-line contacts seduced a “temple worker” by using “phone sex” and “lewd photos” (porn) on first contact?

    Excuse me, please, for a slight twitch of incredulity.

  50. I know a few apparently successful married couples who met this way.

  51. Sorry–100% true.

  52. Ray, check out a 2007 BCC post on online dating by Ronan Head if you don’t believe me. Several commenters mentioned similar things.

  53. I posted on one website for a couple of months. The only people that matched up to me were men who were looking for that “special someone to help them become active again”. :(
    Ugh!

  54. Nadine N., you’re saying that a married, current bishop contacted your friend and on the first contact sent her lewd photos, that she responded and maintained a relationship long enough to find out that he was in fact married, and that he was in fact a bishop, and then was still willing to meet him in person in order to have sex with him? And that variations of this experience happened over and over and over and over and over, enough to justify the use of words like “several” and “many” and the plural of “bishops” and “stake leaders,” and all within the space of a year?

    Nope. I don’t buy it, either.

  55. No, disclosure did not occur sequentially; some things were revealed later, especially because there was Church discipline involved; there are rings of very disingenuous men and women out there who share information on easy prey, etc. Having spent a couple of decades single, many years in singles wards, befriended scores of single men and women, I stand by my story. I met the friend in question on my own temple shift. Those who care to believe me can. We’re all anonymous after all.

  56. Natalie brings up a good point with the pictures and the superficiality of the experience — of course all dating is like that, but meeting people over the internet increases the commoditization of dating.

    I tried the internet thing in the late 90s and early 00s and it was fun. I was invariably disappointed in the face-to-face, but no big deal. I dated a nonmember I met online for a year or so, and it was a good relationship. Dates and relationships which don’t end in marriage aren’t necessarily failures.

    The technology has improved since then to make the experience better, i.e. especially video Skype.

  57. I met my wife on LDSlinkup. I think it’s meant to be more of a networking site than dating, but it can serve both purposes. Actually, she found me when she was looking for LDS people in an area where she wanted to go to school. We emailed a few times before she asked if we could meet when she came to the city to check out the school. We had a great time, but I said to myself, after previous failures at long-distance, that I wasn’t going to date her unless we were in the same area. Well, that’s what I said after I first met her. After she left though, we ended up talking on the phone, every night for two weeks, for several hours each night. Eventually she invited me out to visit her at her home and I took her up on it. We calculated that before I flew out to visit her, we had spent over 50 hours talking on the phone in two weeks time. We also realized that those in-depth phone calls were far more productive in getting to know each other than any evening at the bowling alley or dinner and a movie would have been. It wasn’t much longer before I packed up and moved across the country so we could at least be in the same area–but I knew what was going to happen before I did. Now, we’ve been happily married for 10 months.

    I think that online dating is not for everyone, but it is certainly worth trying. I had met two girls off the internet before. One back in 1999 who I got heavily emotionally invested in through phone, chat, and email before meeting. Then when we met, I immediately knew it wouldn’t work. It was really a chemistry thing. With the second girl I met, I didn’t want to get burned like I did the first time, so instead of continuing to build a relationship before meeting, I arranged to meet her and found out that it wouldn’t work before making a big investment of time and emotion.

    I have no problem telling people we met online, but when people ask where me met, I always say in New York, because, that’s actually where we met for the first time.

  58. I think ESO said it well in #6. Good to meet, but don’t replace dating with an online romance.

    I would be careful applying the olde-time letter courtship analogy too. Modern marriage expectations have evolved considerably.

    When I was living in a remote town, with a busy schedule and no dating prospects (LDS or otherwise). I signed up. I ended up meeting my wife, who was in a similar work/life situation. We emailed twice before starting to speak regularly on the phone. We ended up tweeking our traveling schedules to see each other regularly and eventually relocated to the same area (we both moved) and were engaged several months later. Here we are, several years, several kids and many moves and airline miles later…

    That said, my wife has a friend who lost money in what ultimately was a scam. The guy spoke mormon fluently enough that it would be surprising if he wasn’t a member. He was posing as a Nigerian convert living in the US. My wife has another friend who traveled to abroad to meet a guy she met on an LDS dating site, and sponsored a guy back to the states. They got married in the temple and he turned out to be a total creep. They divorced after several months, he was exed and remains in the US illegally, which appears to have been his plan from the get-go.

    I have a very good friend who, after a bad divorce, got involved with a woman who has finished off what his wife started. It will be years before he recovers emotionally and financially, if he ever does.

    My sister, after quite a lot of hinting from my mother and sisters, signed up. She spends a lot of time chatting online, and seems to be using it as an excuse to avoid real relationships. A second sister tried it and seemed to attract all sorts of inappropriate attention from divorced men who were 20+ years older than her and wanted her to come be a mother to their teenage broods.

    I am aware of another couple, both are socially awkward, going on ten years. They moved to a rural area in the Midwest, homeschool their kids and raise their own food. They seem to be happy, and hopefully the same websites will be around when their kids need them.

  59. Kevin, I met my wife on LDS Singles almost six years ago. It’s a long story that is very personal, and I haven’t blogged about it because it is so personal, but I wanted to add my testimony that it is possible to meet over the internet and be happy.

    I was living in Miami at the time, recently divorced, and there really were not any LDS people around with whom I was compatible. What to do? Well, on-line dating provided a solution.

    My wife had been dating on-line for several years and had had some not-so-great experiences, so you need to be careful and use common sense. But we were married in the temple and are coming up on our five-year anniversary and are very happy together.

  60. Nadine N., you should be very careful with throwing around accusations that bishops and stake leaders are out there trolling for vulnerable women in such huge numbers that multiples of said trolls managed to find your friend. Absent any evidence whatsoever, I call your bluff. It’s gross exaggeration, if not outright fabrication.

  61. To clarify, I don’t doubt that there are trolls, or that some sickos could claim to be bishops and stake leaders as part of their “door approach.” But the charge that rings of such ecclesiastical leaders are organized for trolling is worse than ludicrous.

  62. MikeInWeHo says:

    “there are rings of very disingenuous men and women out there who share information on easy prey, etc.”

    You gotta love some of this stuff.

    re: 45
    What’s interesting is how all the dating sites: LDS, Catholic, gay, Wiccan, whatever are basically the same. FWIW, I met Pete almost 9 years ago after running a personal ad on AOL. As I recall, my headline was “Settle Down, Don’t Settle.” :)

    I love helping friends write their ads. My best LDS friend at work and I had a blast working on hers, although I was always teasing her with suggestions that had just a bit too much sexual innuendo for her dating needs. She met a great guy, moved to Arizona and eventually married him in the temple.

  63. Left Field says:

    I would be careful applying the olde-time letter courtship analogy too. Modern marriage expectations have evolved considerably.

    Just wondering if you might expound a bit on what you’re getting at here? What’s different about “modern marriage expectations” that is somehow incompatible with written communication?

    My experience was that written correspondence permitted a level of communication that never happened in the shallow chit-chat that typically accompanied first-date dinner-and-a-movie experiences. There is of course, no substitute for face-to-face, but the level of intimacy afforded by the written word goes a long way to producing a worthwhile relationship and can be effective in weeding out the obviously unsuitable prospects.

    Too often, the “traditional” dating model starts out with superficialities which don’t form much of a basis for a long-term relationship. In my experience, written exchanges are more effective for identifying those with whom we share more profound compatibility, and who might otherwise be overlooked.

    And even after the relationship moves into more serious territory, there’s still a lot to be said for writing.

  64. Mike, you could probably make a nice side business out of consulting on other people’s personal ads!

  65. Ponty Ficator says:

    I don’t think that Nadine N. said that “rings of ecclesiastical leaders” were trolling or banding together to conspire against unsuspecting women. Here’s what I experienced: on some of those sites, men and women can talk to each other, even though it’s set up so that men and women date. Men will say, “So and so is easy; so and so is vulnerable; so and so is amenable/can be persuaded to do x, y, and z.” Man 2 cyber-wanders over to said woman and starts getting friendly/frisky/whatever.

    I’m not sure what’s so hard to believe (?) I have seen this sort of thing happen firsthand as well. I don’t think the previous poster meant to say that *in person, in real time*, people were organizing to see how they could destroy another person (cue evil laughter).

  66. Ponty Ficator, read comment 47 again. Nadine N. stands by it “100%” and states repeatedly that it is true. And what does she assert? That “many” bishops and stake leaders have approached her friend online with inappropriate sexual material, and have “seduced” her. When challenged on that outlandish claim, her only explanation is that these men associate in rings, exchanging leads on vulnerable women.

    I continue to challenge that, and to call her assertion bunk. (That men can and do go trolling I have no doubt. My challenge is to the unsupported but repeated assertion that multiple bishops and multiple stake leaders are engaged in this practice.)

  67. and that a faithful temple worker would be “seduced” by “phone sex” and porn.

  68. Something that I have seen a few times on this thread that has surprised me is the notion that relocating for the relationship without a serious commitment of engagement or marriage is a problem.

    I understand why someone would not love an outcome of uprooting their life and moving across the country for someone only to date them for an extended period and find that they don’t work out for whatever reason. You would feel foolish or used–not ideal, certainly.

    On the other hand, let’s say you insist on an engagement or marriage before you move and THEN find out some serious issues, but feel you are too far in to back out so you settle–is that really better?

    My friend (story in #6) realized in the first week of her marriage that she had been foolish not to know more. Had she done more investigation or lived here before marriage, she would have known that this guy was excommunicated, had had adulterous affairs, had serious money issues, had been fired from his job, and had had a brief marriage annulled within weeks of their relationship starting. I think we can agree these are serious issues. But guess what? She had a honeymoon baby–yup, was already pregnant and felt she could not back out.

    So, relocate without a commitment–not for them, but for YOU. You deserve that.

    And whatever you do, use birth control–DON’T have a baby with your near stranger spouse until you have at least met all their uncles and aunts.

    Happy hunting.

  69. ESO, I certainly agree that marrying someone you barely know is a terrible idea, much worse than moving across the country to date someone. But when I (for one) suggested that moving pre-commitment was a bad idea (at least for me), I did not mean to imply that a premature marriage was the alternative.

    People in long-distance relationships have to be willing to sacrifice time, money, and certain relationship perks (like daily face time) to slowly get to know and grow close to someone before committing, and before relocating. The alternative to a hasty marriage isn’t to move across the country, chasing some illusion. Instead, the alternative is to make the long-distance thing work by doing whatever it takes to nurture it (for as long as it continues to show potential and to progress).

    I didn’t move to where my husband was until 21 months after our first face to face meeting. And in that time, we traveled so often, shared so much of ourselves, planned as many extended visits as we had the opportunity to, met each other’s entire families, that there was just no way that he was going to turn out to be a guy with an out-of-wedlock kid or dead bodies in the basement (I inspected every square inch).

    Your friend made a fast and desperate decision, which is usually a mistake in any circumstance.

    My adamance about not moving is based more on what I have known women with face-to-face boyfriends to do. Long-time boyfriend gets a great job in another state, and asks his girl to move, too. She does, with the naive hope that such a big change is a step toward marriage. But it turns out he’s no more marriage-minded in the new city as he was in the old, and in fact now he is attracted to his coworker and thinks SHE might be what he’s been looking for. I’ve watched it happen three times, but I only had to see it once to know I would never make that mistake.

  70. Amazingly, it worked for my brother-in-law.

    As a short guy, I’m sure it would have been a failure for me, but luckily I met my wife in person.

  71. Barbie–fair enough. Thanks for more background on your situation–21 months is much different than 2.

  72. StillConfused says:

    #29 – the lds singles sites seem to have, generally speaking, certain reputations. ldssingles.com – folks seem to be a little more religious; ldsplanet is where guys go to find women who are on the other end of that spectrum; ldslinkup.com is more of a social networking site, like facebook, that you can use for dating if you want.

    I personally have had a negative experience with every lds man that I met online — a bit of a false advertising problem. (For what it is worth, men complain of the same false advertising problem).

  73. Just wondering if you might expound a bit on what you’re getting at here? What’s different about “modern marriage expectations” that is somehow incompatible with written communication?

    I am not suggesting that it is incompatible, I just don’t like the analogy to a correspondence romance from a century ago, when marriage expectations had a different focus.

  74. I hear that eHarmony will only let users see the individuals who match them on a compatibility scale. Eliminates the fish-tank effect, I guess.

  75. Left Field says:

    I am not suggesting that it is incompatible, I just don’t like the analogy to a correspondence romance from a century ago, when marriage expectations had a different focus.

    Okay. I guess I still don’t see what you’re getting at. I’m not sure what marriage expectations you might be alluding to that are relevant here. I didn’t really think of it as an analogy, just an observation that people have been courting by mail for a very long time, and continue to do so. I get that you see it as somehow different, but just don’t know what important difference you see, aside from the use of ink and paper.

  76. The internet is a fine way to meet people, but I echo those who say that you really need to date people face-to-face. The internet makes breaking the ice a bit easier, I think.

    It works well for me because I don’t attend a singles’ ward, and I am shy enough that I have trouble (by trouble I mean paralyzing fear of) “picking up” (or whatever you want to call it) girls in clubs or grocery stores or wherever else single people are supposed to interact. Emailing is a great way to start out.

    I met my ex-wife via the internet, and although our marriage failed, I don’t attribute it to the how our paths crossed. So, sure, internet dating isn’t for everyone, but it works great for some and is a proven, legitimate way to begin a lasting relationship.

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