Dating Help

Of course, many people need more than pure happenstance to find someone. Online dating services offer such assistance.

Sue posted her personal information at a Cupid personals and within three months met Barry, an auto body specialist just starting his own business. Prior to their first meeting at an Italian restaurant, each agreed to wear their favorite hats; Sue wore a straw gardening hat and Barry a deep blue beret. The pair had conversed so much online that they felt like old friends.

Those who use Cupid personals fill out an online form, which includes information such as name, e-mail address, age, sex, and sexual preference. You're also asked to select a state and give a description of yourself along with what you seek in a dating partner.

Cupid-Match.com encourages honesty and specificity to produce a better match. If you are not quite ready to join, you can browse the ads other singles have placed.

Cupidreviews.com also offers online dating. This service, up and running since 1996, is database oriented. It was started by two people, Athena and Peter, who met in cyberspace.

For security purposes, Cupid hides the actual e-mail address of both the sender and the recipient, and all correspondence can be exchanged via Cupid until you are confident you trust a person you've met online.

Searching for a Gem

Cupid personals worked for Gilda and Hiro. Like Sue, Gilda's friends referred her to the service. The busy attorney didn't want to spend her life hanging around until good, single men strolled by.

Within days of posting her information with Cupidreviews, Gilda had 700 responses.

"Easily 650 of them were totally incompatible with my wish list-everything from an emu rancher in New Zealand to a college student in Kuala Lumpur to a 60-year-old widower," Gilda said.

But, she was not discouraged. Nearly 50 of the responses met her wish list, which included: a Manhattan resident, white or Asian, single or legally divorced, college graduate, professional, and amenable to cats.

Among those 50 or so remaining was Hiro. She e-mailed him back and they corresponded through the secure service for a while. Once they were comfortable with each other, they made a morning appointment at a coffee shop in New York City.

"That's the one piece of advice everyone gives about meeting someone in person for the first time," Gilda said. "Meet them in a public place with lots of other people around. And drive your own car if possible."

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