Online love case study: When we first met, it felt as if we knew each other. People kept saying, you two look like a couple

Karen Kennaby, 54, is from London and John Degnan, 49, is from the US

Karen "I think I’d been single for a little while, and a friend suggested online dating and over a bottle of wine. I knew some people had tried e-harmony and had some success, so I thought, OK why not? I was up for trying anything.

I immediately liked e-harmony because it was so detailed, the questions delved deep into subjects that really matter; values, morals and ideas, things that were important to me. I found this reassuring specifically because I had undergone a lot of personal and spiritual development in my life. I was very comfortable with myself and I wanted someone to enjoy life with. I was ready to express who I really was, which meant in turn that the matches were of a higher calibre.

It makes me laugh because I had one person who said I was too far away – about 45 minutes, which seemed silly because if it’s right you’ll find a way. I met a few people before John either online or in person, nice people, interesting people, people I could talk to about travel and music and books, varying places in the world, decent interesting people. But I think the advantage of doing internet dating, is that some of the more traditional avenues can be noisy. In the pub for example, you don’t seem to get past some really basic questions and information. Whereas the amount of info that you can get about someone quickly on a good site, is more than you might ever know about someone that you know casually.

I got married at 22, was married for 11 years – should never have got married, we met in the wrong way, first on holiday, then at a holiday reunion we got together. I know this sounds silly, but I thought I was going to be left on the shelf if I didn’t get married. I cried on my wedding day, I went ahead with it even though I knew I wasn’t doing the right thing, the only good thing was that my son came out of that marriage, it was always a struggle.

We suffered from fundamental differences, which online can be easily filtered out, values are important for a lasting relationship past a fling or a good time, you start to feel very uncomfortable if you’re stuck with someone who doesn’t want to grow, and my ex didn’t want to grow.

I spent 3 months with e-harmony and another internet site for about a month, if even. I was sort of playing the field as I hadn’t had a chance to do that in life. When I first met up with John it felt like we knew each other. We just got on with things together. He was helpful, so much more than my previous partners. People were very intrigued as I hadn’t told anyone who he was, or that he was going to be at the party, I kept joking that he was cheap American labour, but people kept saying, you two look like a couple… I don’t really think it matters where you meet, I think some people give up too quickly. When looking online you need to be clear about who you are and what you can bring to a relationship. It is always very dangerous when people are looking for someone to complete them."

John “I had been in a 22 year marriage, my ex-wife and I grew apart, we still loved and respected each other but wanted different things out of life, but what I had learned from the relationship was that I didn’t need somebody else to complete me. I never strayed or cheated, even though it wasn’t fun, but I just wanted to be everything that I was without having to walk on egg shells.

I hadn’t been on the dating seen for two decades and so I had some younger colleagues who wanted to get me back in the game, they acted as my wing men. I wasn’t looking for someone, I was just as happy to remain single for the rest of my life. That was fun, but when they suggested internet dating, I thought, no that doesn’t have a good reputation, but they protested, ‘nah, nah, there’s something for everyone’.

I said what about just some nice people who might lead to a relationship? They suggested eHarmony. I read some referrals which were good, and was reassured by the detail required. The sign up took 3 or 4 hours, really in depth stuff, and at this point in my life, I thought, I know who I am and what I want. When I looked at my list of ‘wants’, I was pretty convinced that the woman didn’t exist. I took the approach, take it or leave it world, this is who I am, probably because I wasn’t desperate to find someone.

If someone didn’t put their photo up then that was a deal breaker, if you only have one eye and a scar across your face, then you have to be comfortable with that. I received over 200 matches and engaged in email correspondence with a few. When I finally met Karen, it was a bit of a whirlwind romance, I travelled from the US for our first date a few days after we were matched. Not coming from a place of desperation, I thought, why drag this out? I believe I have found my soul mate. We just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and I have now moved from London.”

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