July 05, 2010 12:00 PM

Third-Time Charmers

By age 34, Lori Tartaglia had had enough of set-ups. There was the guy her mom fixed her up with 10 years ago, whom she blew off after one date. Three years later her grandma pushed the same guy on her. She agreed to go, but with no more chemistry than the first time, she didn’t return his calls. So in January 2009 she joined match.com and found a nice 37-year-old CPA from a nearby town in Westchester County, N.Y. After flirting on the phone and e-mail, they decided to meet for coffee. Then, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, of all the Starbucks in all the towns in all the world, who should walk in but Jeffrey LaGrotte-that guy from those two dates! “My words to him were ‘Three strikes, we’re out, or third time’s the charm,'” says Lori, a floral designer. Jeffrey admits, “If I knew it was her, I probably wouldn’t have gone. How many times can I be rejected by the same person?” But he told her, “Either we’ll never see each other again, or we’re gonna get married.” The wedding is Oct. 16.

3 Doors Down

After meeting on jdate.com, Michael Somer, 39, and Sandy Fisch, 31, discovered his dad is her grandmother’s doctor. Her cousins know his parents. He went to high school with her sister. They even attended the same Hebrew school. Seriously, how had they never met? In fact, they probably did pass one another, as it turned out that Sandy, a paralegal, and Michael, who works for a transportation company, lived in the same Dallas neighborhood just three houses apart. Yet the admittedly shy Michael might never have asked her out. “But because we talked online for so many hours, by the time we met he was comfortable,” says Sandy. Adds Michael: “She’s very easy to get along with.” They agreed to meet in the street between their homes and soon fell into a comfortable routine of watching TV and ordering takeout. After eight months Michael proposed with a fortune cookie that read, “Will You Marry Me?” They wed in March 2009 and now live around the corner from their old homes.

Proposed in 15 Days

I was not into the idea of my parents finding a bride for me,” says Houston systems analyst Srinivas Palkamshetty, 36. In 2002 he started looking on bharatmatrimony.com and was intrigued by a profile posted by Dubai-based airline account specialist Marita Rao. Soon “we were talking four hours a day,” says Marita, 33. “The phone company loved me,” says Srinivas. After two weeks he proposed. “I was shocked,” she recalls. But Srinivas felt sure. “She was very frank and open-minded-qualities I was looking for in my wife.” He flew to Dubai and made his case, in part, by pointing to their compatible Hindu horoscopes. “My family is Christian,” she says. “We don’t check horoscopes to get married.” But they spent a day together and, she says, “everything clicked.” They wed in India a month later. Now settled in Houston, they welcomed a son, Rishabh, in 2008. Says Marita: “It was destiny.”

The 55-Year Crush

After her divorce, retired family therapist Lorraine Zohn moved from Des Moines to Los Angeles to be near family. She joined jdate.com and not long after had a coffee meet-up with a gentleman who had grown up near her hometown. While he was nice enough, Lorraine couldn’t help but ask if he knew another Iowan, Marvin Greenberg. The man happened to be Marvin’s fraternity brother; he said Marvin lived in the area and was divorced. “I grabbed him, kissed him and said, ‘That’s the most wonderful news,'” recalls Lorraine. Marvin had been her grade-school crush, long before she met her first husband. “He was always on my mind,” says Lorraine, 78, who rang him up. “She happened to call when I wasn’t feeling well, so I wasn’t too enthusiastic,” says Marvin, 77, a retired CPA. Her interpretation: “I thought he had a girlfriend.” But a week later he asked her out for Indian food. Over tandoori chicken, she said eagerly, “‘We’re between spouses, what are we going to do?’ And he said, ‘I’m going to eat dinner.'” Six dates later, at the aquarium, they kissed for the first time. Within six months, they started planning a wedding for 350 guests. Now married 10 years, Lorraine says, “I’ve got to pinch myself in the morning for the rest of my life.”

Inspired by Dad

Two years ago Sarah Ashley Costner watched as her father, Roger, wed Sharon Castine, whom he met on match.com. “My stepmom is great,” says Costner, 27, an office manager in Charlotte, N.C. “I lucked out.” But she wasn’t as lucky in love. After a bad breakup, Costner “was moping,” says Roger. He urged her to go online. She did and soon got a message from engineer Diana Montoya, 25. After one date, “I felt like I’d known her forever,” says Costner. Seven months on, they are talking about moving in and marriage. “She brought out parts of me I didn’t know I had,” Diana says. Like the matchmaker side. Now they are trying to get Costner’s brother to join match.com. Why not? Says Costner: “We’re two for two.”

*From a 2010 study, “How Couples Meet and Stay Together,” by Stanford University’s Michael Rosenfeld

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