Sites strike a match with users
Alex L. Goldfayn
Published May 8, 2006
Spring is in the air, and, after a long winter hibernation, so is love. Web-enabled love, that is.
These days, many are turning to online matchmakers for romance. According to an April study by the Washington-based Pew Internet and American Life Project, 31 percent of American adults--that's 63 million people--know someone who has used a dating Web site. And 30 million Americans know someone who is in a long-term relationship or married to someone they met online.
And while most people are aware of Internet romance giants Match.com and eHarmony.com, smaller, niche specialty dating sites are popping up.
To wit: LawyersInLove.com
Got a legal degree and looking for a date or a mate? Consider Elena Albamonte's Fairfax, Va.-based site, LawyersInLove.com. As a single attorney in the U.S. Justice Department (hackers beware), Albamonte realized she had an easier time dating attorneys.
"I was on some of those other dating sites. And when I actually ended up dating lawyers, by fluke, it was easier to talk to them," said Albamonte, 49. "We had more in common."
So she started Lawyers In Love last year. The site has 1,500 members (1,000 of them joined in the last four months). Membership is free--for now. But Albamonte plans to charge $20 per month starting in July.
Unfortunately, she hasn't been able to enjoy the romantic fruits of her Internet labor.
"I can't use the site myself, because it's a conflict of interest," she explained. But while Albamonte's strict ethics keep her from being a member, she's convinced her site works well for fellow attorneys.
"It's the professional and intellectual commonality," she said. "Being able to talk about cases is great. You can be an attorney but be in a totally different field."
In Los Angeles, Ray Doustdar is attempting another new, alternative approach to online dating. And he says his way is closer to how singles meet naturally in social settings.
"I'm single, and I mostly meet women when I'm out with my group of friends," he said.
Which is precisely what TeamDating.com is all about:
"It's a group-based approach to meeting people on the Internet," Doustdar explained. "Instead of signing up as an individual like you would on other sites, you sign up with a group of friends--and you look to meet other groups of friends."
You can join in groups of two to four (co-ed groups are OK), and the "date" involves both groups.
There are 6,900 members on TeamDating.com, and Doustdar says it's a safer, quicker, less frustrating approach to online dating--mostly because safety concerns are minimized in group dates.
And, Doustdar concludes, if the love connection isn't there, "you've wasted all that time and you have to start over."
Like his counterpart at LawyersInLove.com, Doustdar does not arrange dates on his Web site.
"We made a corporate decision not to fish out of the company pond," he laughed. "I think it just keeps us out of trouble."
The most eyebrow-raising dating site on the Internet may be GoodGenes.com.
Consider their mission, announced boldly on the homepage: "To help Ivy Leaguers and similarly well-educated graduates and faculty find others with matching credentials."
Proof of status of being a graduate or faculty member of "specific universities or colleges" is required. And the site "discreetly verifies the status."
Membership fees for the well-educated are $60 for six months or $110 for a year. The site has about 2,000 members, according to the company.
Alex L. Goldfayn is host of "The Technology Tailor Show" on WGN-AM 720 on Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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