Online dating just got personal


To many of us on Valentine's Day, nothing could seem quite so cold and unromantic - OK, perhaps even a little creepy - as Internet dating.

But don't tell that to Jon Posner.

The 28-year-old avid cyclist with a penchant for chocolate says he was shocked to find out he had been chosen as one of the Baltimore finalists for the Yahoo Personals "Operation Bachelor" online dating contest. "I was surprised I was even in the running," Posner says. A busy guy with no love for the bar scene, Posner entered the contest on a whim after posting a personals ad online.

To highlight Valentine's Day as the Big Show in online dating, and to promote its ad service, Yahoo Personals created the dating game of which Posner humbly says he became a finalist with "blind luck." The contest spans 10 U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles and our own Baltimore, recently rated No. 7 on America Online's 2003 list of Ten Best Cities for Singles.

In January, nearly 4,000 bachelors applied to become one of the five - or in Baltimore's case, four - lucky bachelor finalists for their city. The bachelors were posted on the contest's Web site on Feb. 1. Since then, interested bachelorettes have been sending off their own personals ads to the bachelor of their choice, hoping to be chosen as his date for the all-expenses paid Valentine's Day romance-a-thon. Winning couples will travel by limo to some of Baltimore's top venues, all courtesy of the matchmakers at Yahoo. Other cities will have their own tours.

Posner says he's already received around two dozen applications from hopeful women and is receiving five to seven more each day. Asked what he hoped to get out of this experience, Posner very sensibly replies that he just wants to have "a really good time with some new people and make some new friends."

But could there be more than just friendship in store for his fellow online bachelors and bachelorettes? "I've talked to people who have had success with [online dating]," Posner says. "The potential is there, for sure!"

Why does Baltimore only have four finalists when most other cities have five? Yahoo says it was looking for the best, and these four gentlemen were the best of Baltimore. (Don't feel too bad, San Diego has only three.)

There's still time to enter the contest, which ends tomorrow at noon. Just log onto

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