L

iving February 2000

Daring to Love
Making the effort could reap benefits

by Karen Hood-Caddy

"I don't believe human beings were meant to be be alone,” says Lianne Tegobov, owner of Camelot, a Manitoba introduction service.
“That’s why I’m in this business. I get to see the sparkle come back in people’s eyes once I’ve found them a mate:’
   The old adage — love makes the world go round — may be true, but how to find it? Most people over 50 have been out of the dating scene for a while and find the idea of trying to find a mate daunt­ing. Meeting eligible people can be difficult. As David, an accountant, says, “I live in the country, am self-employed and don’t go to bars — I just don’t meet women.”
   Like many people, David realized that if he was going to find a life partner, not only did he need to actively search for her, but he required help to do it. He started by surveying the options: put an ad in the com­panions section of magazines such as good times or a newspaper, or respond to one, register with an introduction service or use one of the many meet- your- mate services on the Internet.
   David decided to put an ad in a national newspaper. There are two ways of doing this. Some newspapers, like the Saturday Globe and Mail, have a cross-Canada companions section that lets you compose as many of your own words as yow interest and finances permit. If you are good at writing, you can create an ad that gives a flavor of who you are anti what you are looking for. Once your ad is written and sent in, you are given a box number for interested people to send their responses — for the price of a postage stamp.
   

VOICE PERSONALS

The other newspaper method is the Voice Personals page. To place an ad, you call the 800 number and answer a series of computerized questions. Your responses are used to formulate an ad for the newspaper, as well as the taped response people will hear when they call. The disadvantage here is that one ad reads much the same as the next, and  respondents who want to find out more about you have to pay a fee. If, however, someone is interested, this system has the benefit of allowing a respondent to hear your voice and listen to how you phrase things. If you want to find out about anyone, you also have to pay.
  Of these two options, David decided to write his own ad. Shortly after it appeared, he received more than 50 replies. “I got everything from a woman scrawling her name and phone number on a scrap of paper to a four-page closely typed letter.” After sorting through them, he responded to about half, ended up meeting 15, and dated 4.
       “All in all,” says David, “it was a very good experience. The quality of people was great. I made some good friends and I’m glad I did it. “Ho
w did putting an ad in the paper com­pare with the other options? In terms of cost, he spent over $300, or about S6 per response. This is much cheaper than the per-person rate for reply­ing to one of the ads in the Voice Personals, and also less expensive than what an introduction service would have cost. Had David signed up for one of the many meet-your-mate services on the Internet, his cost would have been even lower.

 ON-LINE LISTINGS

Most Internet services do not charge a fee by a listing or for browsing their profiles, but do charge for contacts you initiate. Webpersonals.com charges about $15 for 50 “credits”; each initiated contact costs 3 credits. Online services have many advan­tages. First of all, most of’ them use photographs as well as biographies, and this allows you to be more selec­tive before initiating contact. Second, the system can sort through its lists and give you the names of people within certain criteria (e.g. men between the ages of 35 and 60 who live in the 613 telephone area code).
   Some of these dating services have other features as well, such as chat lines, newsletters and dating advice, so there is lots to be had for a small investment. Also, most services allow you to correspond via their site; some have built-in options to protect your anonymity. And Internet sites have high volumes of traffic.

Oneandonly.com boasts over 250,000 ads and about 88,000 responses in a given week. Critics of online services, however, say that many of the users are not very seri­ous about meeting a partner. So even though it can be fun to send and receive lots of e-mail, it is not likely to find you a life mate. And if this is your top priority, you might find an introduction service to be better value.

INTRODUCTION SERVICES

Linda Pauls, owner of Misty River Introductions, has over 5.000 clients throughout Ontario. She claims that her clients usually find partners with­in the first three tries. “People who use our service are highly motivated, especially people over 50, which make up our second biggest category. People in the second half of life want someone special to enjoy what life has to offer. Given their motivation and the fact that I have sorted through all the possibilities, by the time I introduce two people, the odds of a good match are really good.”
   
Sheila found her partner through Misty River Introductions on the first try. “I’d been on my own for about three years and I was lonely. Being retired, I had a lot of time on my hands. Now I have someone to travel and do things with — I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
    Stan, a dentist from Winnipeg, who uses a different introduction ser­vice, has not been so lucky. Although he has had dates with about 10 women over the year and a half since he signed up, he has not met anyone he wanted to go out with beyond six months. “I don’t mind.” he says. “I’m meeting some wonderful people.” Stan has tried several approaches, but says he likes using an introduction services 

   best because, “they do the leg work for you.”
    Like Linda and other owners of quality introduction services, Rick Adland of That Special Someone, meets everyone who applies. He says it helps him to get to know his clients better and make better matches. That Special Someone, which caters to people over 50 who live in Or near Toronto, is a companion service and not a dating service. “It’s easy to find someone you can go out with, but harder to find that special someone you can really talk to. Finding the right person can take time.” Rick has
matched 300 people since beginning his company in 1991.
   Although his specialized service for seniors is the only one of its kind in Canada, a quick browse through the phone book or the Internet will produce dating or introduction ser­vices for a variety of religions, eth­nic groups, education/professional orientations, even body size Sizable Encounters is for people “visibly overweight and their admirers”).
   Another way to meet people is to join organizations that put meeting people and activities, such a walking or dining, together. The Single Gourmet is an example of the latter. Your local newspaper may list the ones available in-your area.
   Regardless of the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches, all of them provide excellent opportunities to cast your net a little wider than you might oth­erwise. “It’s important to be discrim­inating,” says Lianne of Camelot Introductions. “When someone is
living alone, it’s tempting to take the first bus that comes along, but we encourage our clients to take their time and hold out for what they want. After all, you are going to spend a lot of time with this person; you want to make sure you pick the right one.”
   And, even though some of these services can speed things up, it is important to remember that the “right one” can arrive at your doorstep at any time from anywhere. Joan Gattuso, author of the book A course In Love heard about the man she later married while she was being measured for a weight loss program. Dorothy South, from British Columbia, married the man she was in love with as a teenager. In Dorothy’s case, life took her and the boy she first loved in different direc~ tions. It was not until almost 60 years later that they met again at a reunion and realized they still loved each other. Dorothy’s nickname for her husband is”R.B.” —“reclaimed beau:’
   A generation ago, families tended to stay in one place. As people aged, they had their children and grand­children around them. Now, howev­er, more people 50 and older are finding themselves living without the day-to-day contact of their loved ones. This generation of older peo­ple knows how vital it is to take care of their social and emotional needs.
  As Linda Pauls says, “Having a mate is an important part of enjoy­ing life. The number of meet-your-mate services demonstrates that. So I encourage people to go for it. Life is too short not to be happy.”

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