Dating through express sex

"After being married and having two kids," she says, "I'd kind of given up, saying `I'm probably never going to meet the perfect one.'" When the two women finally met face-to-face, for a breakfast in April, they hit it off so well that Frimberger invited Neumann to dinner at another restaurant that night.

As recently as four months ago, Amy Pridgen, a lifelong Texan, had no plans to ring in the New Year 1,500 miles away, much less to navigate her way through Pennsylvania snowstorms to move into a new home in Pittsburgh. Pridgen, 36, made the move from San Antonio to be with her partner, Rhea Whitfield, whom she met in a chat room in October.

"We just started casually talking," Pridgen says, "and everybody else [in the chat room] disappeared." After a week of phone calls and E-mails, Whitfield, 49, was so smitten that she took a break from her surgical residency and flew down to San Antonio in mid November. "If I don't like it, I can always get back on a plane and go home." Instead, what Whitfield found difficult was getting back on the plane at all.

I've found my all-in-all." While not every couple who have met on the Internet develop as serious or as immediate a relationship as Whitfield and Pridgen did, an increasing number of lesbian and gay singles are finding that using the Net can increase not only the quantity of potential dates but the quality as well.

"People who meet through the Internet usually engage in substantial correspondence before they actually meet in person," says Todd Nelson, director of marketing for Gay11.com, an Internet dating service for gays and lesbians looking for long-term relationships.

Brian Battier, vice president for business development at Spring Street Networks, a company that works with online and print publications to create personal ad services catering to their specific readerships, says Internet dating sites are especially useful either for gay people who live in locations without bustling gay communities or for those whose daily lives don't necessarily revolve around being gay. Dating sites are a fast, easy way to meet people with interests similar to yours." Frankie Frimberger agrees.

"When you meet someone through a gay dating service or a chat room, it cuts through the red tape," he says. "I wasn't really into the bar scene anymore," she says.

Cervoni says that Vera's irreverence is exactly what caught his eye.

After exchanging a few E-mails, the two saw Titanic on their first date ("so cliche," Vera moans). The romance, however, was not without its challenges.

Last summer the couple had a larger commitment ceremony with friends and family in attendance.

So do they recommend the Internet as a way to meet potential wives or husbands? Neumann recommended Planet Out to one of her coworkers at a utility company customer service call center, and she found "the love of her life" online soon after, she says. "You may or may not find the one you're supposed to be with," she says, "but [Lori and I] would never have met, so I'm very grateful for the Internet." Vary also writes for Entertainment Weekly.

He also told me that if a girl and a boy are friends, pretty soon one of them will develop a romantic interest in the other.

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