This Valentine's Day, True Stories of Love, Technology & Missed Connections

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A young couple. (Shutterstock)

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and if meeting someone the old fashioned way doesn't satisfy your quest for love, an online dating site is probably your best bet.

One third of all married Americans met their match online. So if you're single and looking for a last-minute Valentine, you could join one of the millions enjoying the benefits of one of these sites.

But while eHarmony, Match.com and OkCupid represent the stuff of modern love—they also represent the stuff of modern technology and clever science.

Manoush Zomorodi is the host and managing editor of WNYC’s New Tech City, and she's been investigating the world of online dating. She joins The Takeaway to explain the magic of machine intelligence, collaborative filtering, and smart algorithms that help a third of Americans find their spouses—despite the challenges thrown at them by human behavior.

A True Story of "Missed Connections"

Have you ever caught eyes with a stranger in public, but just didn't have the courage to say something? Craigslist's Missed Connections is a forum for strangers to help find each other online. Dating apps and online profiles seem to be growing in popularity as the best ways to find a mate, but Missed Connections seems to stand out from the rest. More than just a dating website, Missed Connections is the site for second chances.

That was the case for Abby Spector and Jonathan Roberts, a couple who met eyes for the first time on the F Train in New York City. Although neither of them had the words to strike up a conversation mid-transit, Jonathan decided to try and fight against the tyranny of the near miss.

He went on Craigslist and posted an ad on the site's Missed Connections section, and Abby and Jonathan were able to find each other—and have been together for one year since.

Check out Jonathan's original Missed Connections post below.

Do you have a story about "the one that got away" or a missed connection? Tell us about in the comments or call 1-877-869-8253.

                                   Click to Enlarge

     

Guests:

Jonathan Roberts, Abby Spector and Manoush Zomorodi

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Jay Cowit, Arwa Gunja, Kristen Meinzer and Schuyler Swenson

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [22]

I can't believe I am reading this; I am casting a show about Long Lost Love Connections! Here are the details below~~~~ email me!!!!

The One That Got Away
Ladies and Gents- Ever dream of reaching out and finding that one person you might have met on vacation... shared a special weekend, night or moment in time with...had an instant attraction and amazing chemistry... and poof! You lost a way to find them ... can't remember his last name... lost his information by some crazy random act... but you certainly remember how you felt about this person...always wondered what if?

NATIONWIDE CASTING:
Documentary/ Docu-series about long lost "love" connections- that u can't find, or even gave up looking....We want to help you find this lost love who got away- even in this world of social media. ... it is the challenge of finding this lost love ... fly u to wherever he/she may be to meet up and possibly rekindle that fire. Maybe forgot how to spell his/her name......maybe even forgot his name! Back in college ... On a foreign trip....Hot beach romance... even in this world of social media...You can't find them!
Compensation for 8-10 days of traveling and filming. - All travel paid.
Ever dreamed of going back to... Hong Kong.... Italy... France....Ireland ... Caribbean ...... Maybe even in the rainforests of South America .....

Timing is off the essence email today ccaparoula.casting@gmail.com

Feb. 14 2014 12:56 PM
Angel from Miami FL

The Honda girl who asked me about Faith No More while waiting at a stoplight. The Jetta girl who chatted me up about my pick-up at a gas station. Embarrassing to think that I seem to ignore my instincts and over-think myself out of some opportunities. I would like to be the Eric Stoltz to a Mary Stuart Masterson but it seems more and more I'm like Charlie Brown and the Lil' Red-Haired Girl. :(

Feb. 14 2014 09:45 AM

I met the love of my life back home in Boston just 5 weeks before I moved to China. She was passing through, looking for a place to settle down for a while and she picked Beantown as her spot. We had immediate chemistry and within a few days we were head over heels in love... but I'd already bought my plane ticket, sold my things, rented an apartment and bought tickets for The Olympics.

As much as it hurt to leave, in the months that followed we came to understand that as perfect as we were (and still are) for each other, it just wasn't the time or place for us. 5 1/2 years on we're still in touch and still in love, though we're happily in our own lives and have each had other relationships. We talk once or twice per year and are unconditionally supportive sounding boards for eachh other. We know that one day when the time is right and the planets align just so we'll be able to be together again. We just hope that it's in this lifetime.

Feb. 14 2014 06:24 AM
Glenn from Austin, Texas

Loved this story, but I really need to know what the music at the end is. Any help?

Feb. 13 2014 10:31 PM
rosygallica

the one that got away
I was in 7th or 8th grade and had a crush on a guy he knew. This guy would walk me home form school instead of taking the bus. (I think he had a long walk home form my house). He used to tease me a bit and call my super curly hair "frayed nerve endings". During the summer he finally asked me out to a carnival in town but my Mom would not let me go. Next fall he was not in my school any longer…… I wonder if my life would have been different if I had been able to meet him?

Feb. 13 2014 09:30 PM
Amy

Just wanted to say that the missed connections story was beautiful! Congrats to Jonathan and Abby!

Feb. 13 2014 04:32 PM
B

I thought the missed connection story was kind of sad - though it worked out for these two, it really almost didn't, and I kept wanting to shout to Jonathan, "if you were too shy to talk to Abby on the train in front of people, all you had to do was wait until her stop, get off, and introduce yourself then - that's how it's done!" The reason I say this is that I know two other people who met this way and are now married. He saw her on the train, she got off, and he ran up to meet her on the street (in a busy street, so not creepy), and he introduced himself right there, out of breath from running, gave her his card and said, "I never do this, but if you want to call me, that would be wonderful." He walked away, she called, they are now married. It's so, so much more romantic and brave to take the risk in the moment. To me, the whole "missed connection" listing is somewhat cowardly - you're hoping the other person will find you and boy, that's taking a huge, huge risk. For most people, once you lose that person on the subway, you lose them forever. Are you willing to take that risk?

Feb. 13 2014 03:56 PM
Mary from Queens New York

The one that got away.
I met Seb at my gym. He was intelligent, confident,
caring and just so interesting. And very much a bad
boy with a notorious past. I fell for him. He says
he was interested however, we never got together and
He moved away from NYC.
It's been 6 yrs and I often think of him and what
could have been.

Feb. 13 2014 03:54 PM
Marcy from Upper East Side

I met my husband 8 years ago the old fashioned way...at a bar. We got high and slept together the first night, but I knew I'd get the call back. ;)He's my best friend and biggest fan.

Feb. 13 2014 03:52 PM
Mary in NC from Western north Carolina

OkCupid sent me a whole lot of the wrong age, wrong profile candidates. But the one that didn't get away was the one I would have hated to miss.
I, widowed 2 years and lonesome, read about Cupid in the NYT.
Just looking around, I found nothing the day I registered. But a week later, there was this nice looking well dressed guy a few years older than i was hoping for. His son and DIL met on Cupid and a lonely year after his wife died, they suggested he go on and look for someone.

In some photos were his grown children and grandkids and no sign of a cat, dog, car or motorcycle (for me, too much competition w/ these). He lived around the corner from the only location i knew in his town, and he was a retired builder. I had been joking w/ friends about needing an electrician, carpenter or plumber in my life. This guy could do it all. And he was widowed after many married years, as i was, so neither one of us had 'divorce baggage.'
Even before we met, he offered to work on an electrical problem I had. And he was a dancer.

After being best friends and sweethearts for over 5 years, we still ballroom dance together every week, he having taught me every step i know. And he still fixes my electrical problems. He's now 82 and I'm 72 and we love each other so much…..If I had held out for someone closer to my own age I hate to think of how much love, affection, fun, and exercise we would have missed.

This story has lots of 'co-incidences' I've omitted. He says i should write a book about it all. But I'm too busy dancing and finding him house fixes to do--in my house. Then he goes home and does his own house fixes. For our age and each having houses & families with our late spouses, all I can say is "Perfect!"

Feb. 13 2014 03:19 PM
Zeke from Florida

I think it was 1973. It was at Wind Cave National Park campground and she was a taller, older, curly-haired red-head who was very outgoing and extroverted. I was too young to be thinking much into the future and now, I can't even recall her name. But I remember it being the first time I ever had that indescribable feeling in my heart that I realized much later was "love." Where ever she is, much love to her.

Feb. 13 2014 03:07 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

1.Yenta's Computer Arranged Marriages next? (No dating,you meet on the day of the wedding.You are not allowed to sue Yenta if it doesn't work out.)

2.Perhaps, "Missed Connections" is not really a "one in a million way" to meet the person you saw on the train. Perhaps, it is a new fetish developing where the listing is more important than the actual meeting. (This of course does not relate to Abby and Jonathan who actually met and like each other.)

Well, I'm going to have to update Nathaniel West's story "Miss Lonelyhearts," and "J.G. Ballard's "Crash." Maybe I will call the story Sargent Pepper's,

Feb. 13 2014 02:29 PM
Arthur from Oregon

Hello...just a few minutes ago, I heard who I believe was Manoush Zamorodi, speaking about dating sites and that they seem to be more and more effective, but people have to go through the questions so the algorithms can better discern what someone is seeking and get a better idea on who may be seeking someone like you, and the main thing is that these systems need data to work effectively. Not two days ago, I heard on NPR (I’m sorry, I was in my car and don’t recall the specific time or show) that through dating sites and surveys, data mining ‘companies’ are using this data to specifically identify individuals and every thing about them, including private personal and medical information, and package this data up for sale to marketing firms, so they can more precisely target whatever service or product they are trying to push. Obviously the most recent example was the parents whose daughter was killed in a car accident (I think, my facts may not be exact, but they don’t need to be for this), and received snail mail that specifically said ‘daughter killed in accident’ on the address. I would like to know if Manoush Zamorodi feels like she bears any responsibility in suggesting that the masses should give more of their personal information to the ‘meta-world’ in the name of finding love on the internets, or if it is her opinion that these dating sites are completely secure. Because if the latter is the case, it would be my opinion that I would give absolute zero credibility to anything Manoush Zamorodi had to say, on any subject, ever again. And while I appreciate NPR’s true commitment to balance, I have a problem with putting blinders on a story just because we are around the corner from a ‘Hallmark Holiday’.

Btw, mid 40’s swm in Oregon, ladies...just sayin’...

Feb. 13 2014 02:09 PM
Arthur from Oregon

Hello...just a few minutes ago, I heard who I believe was Manoush Zamorodi, speaking about dating sites and that they seem to be more and more effective, but people have to go through the questions so the algorithms can better discern what someone is seeking and get a better idea on who may be seeking someone like you, and the main thing is that these systems need data to work effectively. Not two days ago, I heard on NPR (I’m sorry, I was in my car and don’t recall the specific time or show) that through dating sites and surveys, data mining ‘companies’ are using this data to specifically identify individuals and every thing about them, including private personal and medical information, and package this data up for sale to marketing firms, so they can more precisely target whatever service or product they are trying to push. Obviously the most recent example was the parents whose daughter was killed in a car accident (I think, my facts may not be exact, but they don’t need to be for this), and received snail mail that specifically said ‘daughter killed in accident’ on the address. I would like to know if Manoush Zamorodi feels like she bears any responsibility in suggesting that the masses should give more of their personal information to the ‘meta-world’ in the name of finding love on the internets, or if it is her opinion that these dating sites are completely secure. Because if the latter is the case, it would be my opinion that I would give absolute zero credibility to anything Manoush Zamorodi had to say, on any subject, ever again. And while I appreciate NPR’s true commitment to balance, I have a problem with putting blinders on a story just because we are around the corner from a ‘Hallmark Holiday’.

Btw, mid 40’s swm in Oregon, ladies...just sayin’...

Feb. 13 2014 02:06 PM
Jackie from PA

If you've had one that got away, that gold medal that you lost, keep your eyes open for your next gold medal but this time be sure to recognize it when you have it. Who's to say you are only allowed one gold medal in the game of life? I had one that got away and sadly it's been over 15 years ago now. The good news is I have a strong feeling I just may be enroute to my next gold medal and this time it won't get away.

Feb. 13 2014 01:24 PM
vernyce

met my guy after shaving my head & restarting life in grad school. he had a tiny jewelry store adjacent to the book reseller another student introduced me to for saving textbook costs. Over my protests, she suggested, "It doesn't cost anything to LOOK." and from that look, and a bracelet repair that i'd long delayed, sprang a romance. following grad school i went across country and he ultimately landed on Maui. undaunted by the distance, we bridged the gap and married. 27 years later, we're still throughly besotted with each other!

Feb. 13 2014 01:17 PM
susie from texas

In college, I met a guy & immediately fell madly in love. After hanging out a few times, he asked me on an official date. It went swimmingly until the end, when - for no obvious reason (looking back, it was more than likely PMS gone wild) - I started to cry. Which was what you might call awkward, as were our strained goodbyes on my doorstep. I was mortified but figured I would explain myself & somehow make up for it on our next date. There were no cell phones 22 years ago, so I waited for his phone call. I never heard from him again until twenty years later, when he friend requested me on Facebook. I figured what the heck, I may as well ask. So after a few pleasantries, I asked him THE question - a bullet he may very well have preferred to dodge. But he didn't. He explained that towards the end of his 90 minute drive home after our date, he had fallen asleep at the wheel, run into the guard rail, and totaled his car. After the tears and the totaled car, I guess he figured that a second date may not be a good call. The odds simply weren't in his favor.

Feb. 13 2014 12:57 PM
Marcy Phillips from Camp Point, IL

I let mine get away (sort of).
I was married and when my husband met my ex boyfriend for the first time he made a comment about him that was not very nice. This really upset me and I couldn't forget it. It bothered me often. I realized it only bothered me because I cared about my ex so much. Thankfully, when I realized I was still in love with him and got a divorce, he was happy to date me again.
We have been together ever since and finally 23 years after our first date we got married in 2010.
Still so much in love.

Feb. 13 2014 12:56 PM
meon from Saint Louis

Was anyone else disappointed that Jonathan did not propose on air? I stayed in my car listening to see if he would.

Feb. 13 2014 12:48 PM
anon, please from NY

The one that got away. Nine years later, not a day goes by that she doesn't float (or surge!) through my mind and heart. Impossible to know, but it felt at the time that she was The One. And it still does. Not a believer in "Soul Mate" but will buy into “incredibly strong attraction due to visceral, unrecognized commonality”. Am I sorry it happened? Only that it's not still. I wouldn't trade that most intense experience for anything. But it does discolor my present relationship at least somewhat. What does one do after winning the Gold?

Feb. 13 2014 11:32 AM
Danielle from Miami

I aggressively convinced my BFF to travel w/ me to Whistler, Canada for the National Brotherhood of Skiers biennenial summit. A huge ski event for its thousands of African American members. I told her we both might find a husband. Our last day there I find this shabby-looking ski dude eyeing me in the ski check-out room. I tried to avoid eye contact but the only available seat was right next to him. I reluctantly took it, he chatted me up and I left - NOT impressed. He "finds" me again that nite at an apres ski event and offers to take my BFF and I to dinner. At the end of the nite, I gave him my email address...sensing he was NOT the email type. Back to work on Monday I get a lovely email from him asking for my phone number. I call him and find out it took him 3 days to figure out how to set up and use email just so he could contact me. That was 11 years ago, we married 7 yrs ago.

Feb. 13 2014 10:05 AM
Cilla from New York

I met my husband in 1962, when I was twelve and he was fourteen. Our path had many twists and turns, but here we are today, married for thirty-four years. He is the one.

Feb. 13 2014 09:53 AM

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