Jay Tysver was never very interested in the bar scene, he mostly just met people through the course of living.
But, in 2005 a new brand of dating was starting to come into the mainstream, one pioneered by personal classified ads in newspapers and later online chat rooms.
It was an avenue that Tysver, a 40-year-old divorcee at the time, was interested in, but not exactly sold on.
“I had just kind of looked around on a few sites, and hadn’t really followed through much on any of them or dated on any of them, or anything like that,” Tysver said.
That is, until he met Liz Malcom.
Tysver — who lived in the Shoals at the time — had met a few people and had some conversations, but that was the extent of his activity.
Malcom, a Birmingham resident, on the other hand “treated it like a job,” Tysver said.
“She probably dated about 11 or 12 guys,” he said.
After browsing around eHarmony, a popular dating website aimed at providing long-term matches based on compatibility, Tysver said he just wanted to see what the site was and never really dated much there.
Until he felt a “compelling urge to sign up” for the site.
“Well I signed up for it, and it was her last day on it,” Tysver said. “So we got matched up on her last day and just continued our conversations. It grew from there.”
The two started talking/dating in April 2005. By April 1, 2006, they were married.
Tysver’s story is proof that online dating isn’t a fad used only by young people.
In fact, a 2007 Dutch study by Matti Valkenburg and Jochen Peter found that people ages 30-50 were the most active online daters.
Tuscumbia native Sandy Gowers Franks wrote a book, “Bamagirlluvsu,” detailing her experiences with online dating.
Franks, who will turn 50 this year, said she mostly marketed her book toward the baby boomers.
“There is a lot of divorce now, so dating is a lot different then when we were dating in our teens and early adult life,” Franks said. “I tried to market the book to baby boomers to show that it is different than what it was many years ago.
“It’s been mostly positive,” Franks said of her experiences dating online. “That’s the reason I wrote the book. I looked at it as an adventure, and I got to meet a lot of different people from different areas of life.”
Franks works in Huntsville, but lives in Muscle Shoals. Most of the people she has met live in about a 2-hour radius from Huntsville. Most coming from Nashville, Birmingham, Huntsville and Chattanooga.
Franks said she uses the site PlentyofFish.com, and there wasn’t a large selection of people from the area and the people she did chat with from the Shoals, there just wasn’t a connection.
“You can sit behind your computer all day and chat and talk, but if you don’t make that initial contact and get out, you may miss out on meeting some great people,” she said. “I haven’t met the love of my life doing this, but it has been very exciting.”
Franks said she is still dating online “off and on.”
Allyson Dunkerly, 22, moved to the Shoals from Las Vegas about a year and a half ago to help take care of her grandmother and used online dating to meet new people and make friends in the area.
“I did it once in Las Vegas because I was in a big town and wanted to meet new people outside of the social circle that I was already in,” Dunkerly said. “But when I moved to Florence, it was more about meeting people to hangout with because I didn’t know anyone. And the best way to make friends in a new town is to start dating someone.”
Dunkerly said she doesn’t do online dating now that she has met some people in the area. But she said she had a pretty nice experience meeting new people.
“I got to talk to some pretty interesting people, and I got to meet some pretty cool people,” Dunkerly said, who used the site OkCupid.
Dunkerly said her mom used Match.com to find a long-lasting relationship that lasted a couple of years until her mom had to move.
But dating online, even with it’s potential disadvantages — concerns about safety if people aren’t careful and “catfishing” where people meet in real life to find the person they are meeting isn’t who they said they were — has lots of advantages, too.
“You can be more selective,” Tysver said about online dating. “Whether you’re in a big city or not. ... If you meet a person and find out who they are and find out if you’re compatible before you go out, there is an advantage to that if you are driven toward a relationship with substance to it.”
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.