Love On The Web

GENERIC Online internet dating kissing couple romance

Natalie Campagna, a 30-year-old from New York City, and Dr. Mike Adelberg, 46, from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., were six weeks into a whirlwind romance.

With 16 years and more than 1,200 miles separating them, they only could have met in one place -- America's largest singles bar, the Internet.

"It certainly has had a tremendously valuable place in our relationship 'cause, I mean, obviously there is no way that we would have ever met," says Adelberg.

Internet dating is booming. Roughly 45 million people log on each month, making dating sites the fastest growing category on the Internet. In fact, revenue from those sites tripled last year. What was once the last resort for the desperate is now the first stop for serious folks looking for love.

"Now suddenly, people are saying in the New York Times wedding section, 'We loved the first e-mails that we passed back and forth. We met online,'" says E. Jean Carroll, advice columnist at Elle Magazine and the brains behind (a site she started last October).

Women operate and recommend men to singles in The gimmick: many of the men are ex-boyfriends.

"It's like getting letters of recommendation," saysCampagna, a real estate agent, who began by recommending her ex-boyfriend. "If he's not right for me, he's perfect for somebody else."

Which allowed her to search the site. She then found her own great boyfriend when she met Adelberg.

"We hit it off immediately, and there was that chemistry that I keep hearing people talk about," says Adelberg.

After a woman recommends a man, she becomes the "go-between-E." Carroll calls the woman an "acquisition advisor." Campagna contacted Adelberg's "acquisition advisor" for the inside scoop on him.

"I think that dynamic is really cool, because I don't think that there's any reason for a woman to lie to another woman, when she's got nothing to gain," says Campagna.

Women exchange inside information such as the size of a man's ego, his attractiveness, his profession and more.

Right now, the biggest romantic challenge for the pair is the distance between New York and Florida.

"This is our third trip in a month," says Campagna. "It's hot and heavy right now, and hopefully it's going to stay that way."

Adelberg says, "This is that stage in the relationship where you sort of learn about each other to see if this is, as they say, the one."

From using great boyfriends to picking someone from a picture, there are thousands of dating sites on the Internet. They market themselves with different versions of the same pitch – "Hey, you need to find your true love and only we know how to do it."

But there is one site that has a slightly new spin on how to do it, claiming its method really is scientific.

Dr. Neil Clark Warren, who runs, is a psychologist and clergyman. He has been studying relationships for more than 35 years.

The first thing does is ask people 500 questions.

The eHarmony test takes up to two hours to finish. It matches couples based on 29 different criteria -- rating traits from sense of humor to views on family.

"I've never seen a single great marriage -- a marriage that people just swear by -- which they are mismatched on more than 5 dimensions," says Warren.

Todd Lancaster, a 30-year-old from Detroit, and Kate Nelson, a 28-year-old from Cincinnati, met on eHarmony last September.

"You're getting to know the person based on their personality, and what they're like, and you get a real feel for what that person's like before you ever see a picture," says Nelson.

Lancaster explains, "It's not some kind of quick, 'click-here and we'll match you with dates.' It was 'we need to find out who you are and then match you with people that match your qualities.'"

The site says the old adage that opposites attract is wrong.

"Opposites attract is deadly," says Warren. "I always say opposites attract and then they attack."

Not only does eHarmony decide who is compatible, it also decides who is not. Anyone whose test detects emotional, drug or alcohol problems is out of luck.

"We've asked over 50,000 people to leave the site, because in one way or another they don't match with what we think is important to us," says Warren. "They're not going to make anybody a good partner now."

Looking for love isn't cheap. Internet dating services can cost as much as $50 a month. And, you don't always get what you pay for.

Despite its idyllic start, Adelberg and Campagna's relationship crashed and burned after just two months.

"It was a good time, but the long term, critical issues, regarding long term potential, were just not there," says Adelberg.

Campagna says, "We just realized that we were very different in terms of what we wanted."

Carroll says the Internet helped speed the relationship up into "Internet time."

"There are some big mistakes being made out there," says Carroll.

But Lancaster and Nelson have had more success, which could be a shining example of why dating in cyberspace is all the rage.