- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When it comes to love, Kathleen Hanover is searching for a needle in a haystack. So, to find Mr. Right, she has profiles on at least five online dating sites.

Miss Hanover, who owns a marketing business, figures it’s simple math.

“You have to have a big pool of leads to find the percentage who might feel right,” says the Dayton, Ohio, resident, 43. “I’m looking for a very specific kind of man.”

With 1,400 online dating sites, according to the research firm Hitwise, many singles are finding it easy to cast a wide net, posting profiles on multiple sites in hope of reeling in “the one.”

Melissa Galt, an interior designer and motivational speaker in Atlanta, was on four sites at once and compared it to having a second full-time job. One site she used was about “quantity and not necessarily quality.” Another seemed better suited to one-night stands.

She subscribed to eHarmony multiple times but had no luck there and didn’t fare much better at Match.com, where she struck out enough that the site was willing to give her six months of free membership. Since then, Miss Galt has gone out on two dates with someone from Match.com and says so far, so good.

Neither eHarmony nor Match.com, two of the leading online dating sites, captures information about how many of their members are on other sites. Match.com has 15 million active members worldwide. EHarmony has more than 20 million registered users around the world.

Markus Frind, chief executive of the free dating site Plenty offish.com, estimates that 15 percent of the people in the United States who are active on his site are members of other, paid dating sites. About 900,000 people in the North America and the United Kingdom log on each day.

It makes sense to post profiles on more than one site, says Mark Brooks, editor of Online Personals Watch and an Internet dating consultant.

He compares serial online dating to bar- and nightclub-hopping. Someone may go to a wine bar one night and a “Cheers” bar another night. He says people generally settle on one main site and a smaller niche site.

Jordanna Petkun, 30, a business owner in Half Moon Bay, Calif., says when JDate, a site for Jewish singles, seemed to run out of potential matches, she signed up for OKCupid. She didn’t want to cancel her JDate membership, though, because “what if the right guy comes along tomorrow?”

Some relationship experts aren’t so sure that signing up for multiple sites brings better luck in love.

Michael Somerville, host of the upcoming dating series “Wingman” on the Fine Living Network, wonders how people can genuinely give the time and attention to a potential match on eight different dating sites. If you really want to meet the right person online, you need to work at it, he says.

“I have seen daters who spend more time checking their dating sites than they do dating,” says Nicholas Aretakis, author of “Ditching Mr. Wrong: How to End a Bad Relationship and Find Mr. Right.”

Jess McCann, a dating coach and author who once used three sites at the same time, says she was cutting and pasting generic responses to e-mails for awhile. She had two folders: one for the men she wanted to meet and another for the ones who gave her a so-so feeling. If one of the top prospects disappeared, she bumped up one from the other folder.

She has since met her match - but not online.

Tricia Dodson, 47, of Murrieta, Calif., who has been on four or more sites at the same time, says she printed out the profiles of the men with whom she communicated and wrote detailed notes on them, such as hobbies, career and “cute things he said.”

“This isn’t a fail-proof system,” says Miss Dodson, who wrote a book about dating. “At one time, I was e-mailing and talking to six different men via phone and there was a time or two that I got them mixed up.”

So just how much is too much?

Mr. Aretakis recommends singles sign up for one general site, a second specific site and a third niche dating site. So, for example, someone who is Jewish and loves to fish might be on Match.com, JDate and Single Fishing Enthusiasts on the Net.

However, it’s better to be on one site proactively than on three passively, says Nancy Slotnick, founder of the love-life management site Cablight.com. She recommends that singles log on and e-mail 10 people a week. Of the 15 hours a week Miss Slotnick recommends spending on finding a mate, she suggests spending no more than three hours on online dating.

After all, there is a real world out there.

Miss Hanover has no time for that. In fact, she’s so short on time that in some of her online profiles, she directs potential suitors to her personal Web site, www.myhero quest.com, where she asks prospects to give her five first dates’ worth of details about who they are and what they want in a relationship.

“I honestly don’t have time or the patience for long, drawn-out, get-to-know-you chitchat and casual dating,” she writes on the home page, adding that “frankly, I’d rather get some extra sleep!”

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