To launch our end-of-year series on Internet dating, here’s one woman’s story of her experiences with finding love online, courtesy of our own Maura Rhodes. Coming next: WVFC’s clinical psychologist-in-residence Cecilia Ford with tips on getting started. —Ed.

Call me flaky, but I have a tendency to believe in fate. I dislike manipulating circumstances in order to get my way: If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. For example, when it became clear that my first baby was breech and my obstetrician suggested we schedule a c-section, I was beside myself: Choose my child’s birthday? Miss out on the surprise of going into labor spontaneously? Override whatever plan Mother Nature had in mind? My disappointment was assuaged only by the knowledge that a surgical birth would be the safest for my child. (And my wise and wonderful doctor was so sensitive to my feelings that he agreed to give my upside-down baby a few extra days to flip into position—which of course didn’t happen—then got me into the hospital on the pretense of doing a non-stress test. When I arrived he showed up in scrubs and offered to deliver the baby that very day: Surprise!)

Given my craving for kismet, then, it’s not surprising that after my marriage ended it never occurred to me to turn to the Internet in order to find love—talk about twisting fate—until a good friend of mine who had lost her husband to cancer became seriously involved with a man she’d met on She was so happy—my interest was piqued, so one Thursday night after the kids were in bed I poured a glass of wine and logged on.

Now, allows you to view potential partners and their profiles without actually joining up (brilliant marketing), so I was able to get a good look at a bevy of bachelors, widowers, and divorced men in my age range, which was interesting but also smacked a bit of viewing a police lineup, and certainly didn’t strike me as a romantic and therefore viable way to find love. That is, until I came across W., whose image (handsome, classy) and profile (intelligent, articulate, creative) stopped me dead in my tracks (or should I say trackpad). As far as I could see, this man had it all going on—and he lived in my town. I was so intrigued that I copy-and-pasted his profile into a word doc and printed it out.

The next day I occasionally reread W.’s profile, but really didn’t think much more about it until, over dinner that evening, I told the two friends I was out with about my little sneak-peek at and the intriguing guy whose profile I had saved. Not ten minutes later, and this is absolutely true, I looked up to see that very man walk into the restaurant. He was alone and joined a couple who was already seated, and was as attractive in person as in his photo, so I don’t know what was more mind-blowing—how truly good-looking W. was or the sheer coincidence of running into him. Either way, I was emboldened by this turn of events—how could I, a worshipper of serendipity, not be? When I got home from dinner I pulled out my credit card and officially joined, which was the only way I could get W.’s real name and contact info, and sent him a message. By the next morning, we had arranged to walk our dogs together in the park.

Fast forward nearly two years: For the last year and a half I have been involved with the man who I believe to be the love of my life—but it’s not W. He and I spent many hours together talking, walking, commiserating, and supporting each other, but there was no romantic spark there. While our friendship grew, we both continued to date people we met on, and eventually we both found love—a happy ending all around.

I’m just as happy to have discovered that taking my destiny into my own hands, at least when it comes to matters of the heart, doesn’t make the results of my efforts any less magical, legitimate, or real. It just means, I’m convinced, that I’m being realistic: At 51, I don’t have all the time in the world to sit around and wait for Mr. Right to magically appear, even though in some ways that’s sort of what happened: W. led me to sign on to a dating site, which ultimately resulted in the wonderful relationship I’m in now. So maybe I do still believe in magic, at least a little.

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  • roz warren December 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Maura, this essay itself is magical. What a pleasure to read such a charming and unexpected take on a topic that’s been done to death. If my sweetie ever kicks me to the curb, I’m heading over to