*Names have been changed to protect identities En español She wrote him first. In the summer, when the trees leafed out, you couldn't even see the road or the neighbors. She'd grown up here, in a conservative pocket of Virginia. When it came to meeting new people, however, her choices were limited. The holidays were coming, and she didn't want to face them alone.A short message sent on a Thursday evening in early December 2013, under the subject line: Match? She signed up for a six-month subscription to Match.com, the largest and one of the oldest dating services on the Web.She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone.But who knew exactly how these online dating services worked?successful, spiritually minded, intelligent, good sense of humor, enjoys dancing and travelling. In those first weeks, she exchanged messages and a few calls with men, and even met some for coffee or lunch.But nothing clicked — either they weren't her type or they weren't exactly who they said they were.The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.
"You certainly have a great sense of humor and a way with words," she responded.Web-based dating services first popped up in the mid-1990s and are now a billion industry.As of December 2013, 1 in 10 American adults had used services such as Match.com, Plenty of Fish and e Harmony. Now she was all by herself in a house secluded at the end of a long gravel driveway. At first, she just tiptoed around the many dating sites, window-shopping in this peculiar new marketplace. It wasn't until the fall that Amy was ready to dive in. Later, when she puzzled over their relationship, she'd remember this. That had been a fateful move; it made everything easier for him. After the funeral, a grief counselor told her to make no sudden changes in her life for at least a year, and she followed that advice.