From... The Boston Globe


[THIRD Edition]
Boston Globe
Boston, Mass.
Jan 6, 2003

By Diane Daniel, Globe Correspondent

Is this the year you're going to find a partner? Improve your relationship? End one? If you need advice and information, there's plenty out there. Web sites devoted to relationships and dating seem to pop up as fast as some of the sites' intrusive ads do.

What follows is a look at a few sites that offer worthwhile editorial content:

Couplescompany.com: Laura Dawn Lewis, 36, launched the Couples Company site in July to tap into the "couples market" (though it's not just for couples) and to teach relationship skills. Her business partner is Newton native Mark Goulston, a consultant and psychiatry professor at UCLA who wrote "The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship."

Lewis has an impressive roster of experts giving serious advice on such topics as communication, courtship, sexuality, and infidelity. There's even an adviser for military spouses. The site plans to offer real-time workshops next year. The site, which gets more than 20,000 visitors a week, has commercial links and sponsors but no pop-up or flashing ads. Lewis, who lives in Portland, Ore., said she turned down investors when they told her she'd need to market to women only. (Her dem o graph ics show that 38 percent of her members are male.)

Why did she start the site? "I'd like to save people from spending $30,000 like I did," on therapy, relationship seminars, and dating services, trying to figure out what she wanted in a relationship.

www.singlescafe.net: This site is less sophisticated than Couples Company, and the readership is probably a good deal younger. Though it is linked to an online personals site and has at least one pop-up ad, its articles on dating, relationships, and romance are infor mative. Members can sign up for a monthly newsletter full of singles- oriented dating and relationship articles.

Couples-place.com (also marriagesupport.com): David Sanford, a therapist and writer in South Portland, Maine, sells his own articles and courses here, but there are no ads or sponsors. It's largely a labor of love for Sanford, 67, who has a private therapy practice and writes a biweekly relationship column called "Partners" in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

The site is for "anybody who has an interest in a couples relationship," Sanford says. "They don't have to be currently in a relationship but can be looking forward to one." Sanford says not enough attention is placed on relationship skills, and "the costs are high," emotionally and, in the event of divorce, economically.

His site has many free activities, exercises, and quizzes, and he stresses that the site is open to both genders and to opposite- and same-sex relationships. "The whole thing is about evolving and becoming a better person," he says.

Mydatingreality.com: Westwood psychoanalyst Claudia Luiz launched her site in October. Offerings include advice, articles, and up to four personal e-mail exchanges monthly. Some information is free, and the services that include personal contact run from $8 to $15 a month. There are no ads or sponsors.

Luiz, 43, who specializes in dating issues and singles, found through the classes she teaches at the Boston Center for Adult Education that there is no "right way" to date. "I started to develop my own how-to, which was diametrically opposed to every other dating class I'd seen. Dating techniques are great when you're coming closer to yourself, but most of the time people are using dating techniques to get away from themselves. Shy people try to be more outgoing, aggressive people more demure. They're not coming into their own vitality. I want them to come to embrace who they are."

Profiledoctor.com: Boston resident David Evans put up his site in the fall only to take it down for a redesign. If you visit and the new version isn't up yet, you can sign up to be notified when it relaunches. Evans, who said he's helped many single people beef up their online personal ads, is now selling those services through his site. He offers free general tips and articles, and he plans to evaluate, edit, or write personal ads for a fee.

Internetdatingstories.com: This site is a hoot. It has decent online dating advice and hilarious real-life stories, some sweet and some bizarre and cautionary. It had been part of waytoopersonal.com, but the stories became so popular that this spinoff site was created.

Conversely.com: Take two parts Salon.com and one part Nerve.com, and you've got Conversely, or that's what it seems to aspire to. This San Francisco-based site (perhaps Salon defectors?) pays a decent rate to writers, many of whom are established in fiction and nonfiction. "Our goal is a publication for women and men that is dedicated to exploring relationships—every aspect, every stage—through different forms of writing: advice, essays, memoirs, fiction, etc.," the site reads. It meets that goal, and often in an intelligent, thought-provoking way.

Greatboyfriends.com: You won't find editorial content here, but what you will find on this site recently launched by Elle magazine's dating columnist, E. Jean Carroll, are men who come with a woman's seal of approval. You can even contact the women, called "sponsors," for more information on the man they referred. The women could be ex- girlfriends, colleagues, or dear ol' Mom. The service isn't free, but it sure is novel. Pickings for New England are slim, so you know what that means, gals. Start referring!

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

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