Online dating opened up the pool of suitors for Dennis Fauchier, a pool with a radius of about 1,500 miles.
"Being in your mid-40s, finding someone face-to-face is so difficult," Fauchier, 44, said, adding bars and clubs are out of the question because he doesn't drink.
"Having online access is a huge help," he said.
The sales engineer for an electrical services company joins the fold of an estimated 40 million people who have tried online dating services, according to www.statisticbrain.com. On top of that, he found his valentine almost 3,000 miles away in Maryland. About 14 million people in the country claim they're in a long-distance relationship.
Fauchier said he met Shirlene Morgan on a dating site the day after Thanksgiving.
"She calls me her Black Friday catch," he said with a laugh.
Morgan, a budget analyst for the Navy, said friends encouraged her to try the online scene. It took some getting used to.
"Last time I was dating, was before the Internet was around," the 43-year-old said.
Last year, Fauchier moved from Los Banos to Oklahoma and in the process went through a divorce before moving back to California. Morgan, who is also recently divorced, said dating online allowed her to cast a wider net and find someone who met her standards.
Both Morgan, a mother of two, and Fauchier, a father of four, are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The couple said finding someone with the same beliefs in the same situation is a rough task.
"Even when you get to specialized sites," Morgan said, adding it's harder to get to really know suitors online.
"I had become rather frustrated because people weren't who they said they were," she said.
Fauchier said he took some vacation time just before New Year's and flew east to meet Morgan in person. The couple admits to feeling nervous, despite the twice daily phone calls they had exchanged.
Fauchier said the interaction was a relief. "She was who she said she was," he said.
The couple keeps in touch with phone calls every morning and night, which is planned around the three-hour time difference. They also text and email to keep in touch.
Morgan plans a California visit around Valentine's Day. She said she was relieved the "spark" she felt over the phone didn't fade when Fauchier visited.
"There was more of a spark in person than online," Morgan said, adding long-distance dating is surmountable. "I think that can be overcome."
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.