Ask an American couple celebrating their 10th anniversary how they met and they are likely to say, through work, at school, or "we were introduced by friends." Ask an American couple who have been married only a couple of years the same question and you may get a very different answer.
According to a recent survey of 10,000 people who married in 2006 and 2007, more than 19 percent met online, more than were introduced by friends or any other type of introduction.
Matt Bromeland and Helen McClure were married in September, 2007. They were "introduced" online in February, 2005. "I knew more about her in the first few moments than you would ever know about somebody you just met in the grocery store or somebody your aunt matches you up with," says Bromeland.
When they actually saw each other, several weeks later… "I thought we'd get together and have coffee for 30 minutes or 45 minutes," he says. "We talked for four hours. It was a very long coffee," McClure recalls.
She says her parents were a little concerned before she met Bromeland. "Because they had heard so much about how online can be so dangerous. We made sure we met in a public place."
Like a growing number of newlyweds who met online, they say more traditional ways of meeting potential mates weren't working for them.
"Even as outgoing and gregarious as I am," Bromeland says, "I was never comfortable with trying to go up to some stranger and try to charm them."
"I wasn't being very successful in meeting people through friends," McClure says. "I felt like I needed guidance as to who might be a good match for me."
Claire Schuster says she went online to meet people she never would have gotten to know otherwise.
"It was amazing how many people you could meet. You could be matched with 25 people in one day," she says. "It was a larger pool than I had ever experienced before."
She was matched with Haroot Hakopian, a school teacher and soccer coach, in November 2004. He says his busy schedule made it difficult for him to meet people any other way.
"I would be at school at 6:30. I would coach from 3 to 5. I would work out from 5 to 6 or 7."
Hakopian and Schuster married less than a year after they were matched online.
There are many online dating sites. Some target specific religious or ethnic groups. Some are free, others charge for their services. Some are like personal ads; anyone can post a profile. Others use personality profiles to match members.
Like Bromeland and McClure, Hakopian and Schuster used eHarmony, which charges a membership fee and requires members to complete a 250-question survey. Hakopian says when he read the personality profile based on the survey, "I was extremely surprised at how accurate it was."
Months later, when they were already engaged, Hakopian and Schuster compared their profiles. He says they fit together like puzzle pieces. "We weren't similar in a lot of areas. We figured out that eHarmony had matched us on complementary personality traits, as opposed to similar personality traits."
"In a way eHarmony knew something we didn't," Schuster says, "because I was looking for someone who was more like me. I wouldn't have thought to look for my puzzle piece for my perfect partner."
Others are also looking for love online. Both eHarmony and Match.com - another popular dating site - report membership has increased in recent months, despite the recession.