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A Baby Boomer's Tale of Online Dating

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It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that online dating has totally taken off in the last 10 years. I read recently that one in five are currently in a relationship with someone they met online, and 17 per cent of couples that got married in the U.S. met on a dating site.

It's no surprise to me, as I am living proof that even a middle aged broad with two failed marriages behind her can find true love in the great sea of online dating.

Two years ago I met an American man on a golf dating website. (I'm a golfer, and I was lonely -- you do the math.) At the time I was working for a radio station in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I'd gone to the heart of the Canadian Prairies for work and to get a little distance from some personal drama in my life. But even though I had a high profile, very fun and very social job, I missed having a man in my life.

On a quick visit home to Vancouver, my younger brother suggested that if he was single and looking to meet someone, he'd try the online dating thing. He encouraged me: "You're a good golfer Shannie, and you don't look half bad. Surely there's some nice guy out there who wants a gal to golf with." I decided that he might be right, and when I got back to Saskatoon, I posted a brief profile on a dating site for golfers.

In the first 24 hours I got several 'hits.' I heard from a 60-year-old stockbroker in Oregon who suggested, in capital letters, "LETS MEAT IN HAWAII" (his spelling, not mine). There were emails from retired golfers, and Catholic golfers, and bald golfers, and one really short golfer. I think he was a dwarf, but he didn't specify. And oh yes, there was a dangerously juvenile looking golfer who was looking for a MILF. (I wasn't sure whether I should be flattered until I googled it.)

The truth is, I didn't expect much when I first signed up, since I knew geography was potentially a problem for me. For all its charm, Saskatoon is in the middle of nowhere, and I had a hunch that not a lot of prospective dates would want to travel to Saskatoon for a 'get to know you' coffee.

However, a day later I received an email from a fellow in Spokane, Washington. Despite being American (and a Republican) his email was entertaining, flirtatious, informative, and more importantly, literate. Call me fickle: I fell in love instantly.

You'd be amazed at how quickly things can heat up before you even meet someone in person. After a week of feverish correspondence via email, text, and online chatting, my American cyber-suitor boarded three separate flights to get to Saskatoon and we met face to face.

I won't go into the salacious details of our first visit; suffice it to say that despite some initial nervousness, our online attraction was affirmed with a real-life connection that was pretty hot. And after visiting back and forth for a few months, we decided to give the relationship a serious shot by moving in together. What that meant was that I would move to the U.S., which I did, much to the concern of everyone I know.

Despite the hurdles the United States Customs and Immigration Service has thrown in our path, ours is an online dating story with a happy ending. It's been two years now and we're engaged to be married, something we'll do just as soon as we get approval for the K-1 Fiance visa we've applied for so I can live in the U.S. legally.

People often ask me how I ended up with an American, and when I tell them we met online, they're surprised. You shouldn't be though, because for my generation (I'm 55) online dating makes great sense. Most boomer singles are either divorced or widowed, and we know what our personal values and priorities are. We're pretty savvy about our fellow man (or woman), and it's easy to screen prospective suitors without having to even leave the house, which is good because most of us are still busy with careers.

Now I know not everyone gets lucky as quickly as I did online. In fact, my partner tells me that he was on and off the golf dating website for five years before he found me. Still, there are a ton of specialized dating sites for baby boomers, and if you're single, and lonely, I urge you to try one. Be patient, honest, keep an open mind, and just go for it. You never know, you too could meet the catch of your life.

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