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Web-based dating services first popped up in the mid-1990s and are now a billion industry.

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And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general.

"It is kind of a strange way to meet people," she wrote, "but it's not as cold as hanging around the produce department at the Kroger's." She also mentioned the deception she'd already encountered on previous dates — "lots of false advertising or 'bait and switch' folks," she wrote.

Then she saw this guy, the one with a mysterious profile name — darkandsugarclue.

The photo showed a trim, silver-haired man of 61 with a salt-and-pepper beard and Wayfarer-style shades. And something else: He was a "100% match." Whoever he was, the computer had decided he was the one. Then, this message appeared when she logged on to her account. Thank you so much for the email and I am really sorry for the delay in reply, I don't come on here often, smiles ...

She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone.

But who knew exactly how these online dating services worked?

I really like your profile and I like what I have gotten to know about you so far.

I would love to get to know you as you sound like a very interesting person plus you are beautiful. In fact it would be my pleasure if you wrote me at my email as I hardly come on here often. Some of the other men she'd met on Match had also quickly offered personal email addresses, so Amy didn't sense anything unusual when she wrote back to the Yahoo address from her own account.

The mainstreaming of online dating is a revolution in progress, one that's blurring the boundaries between "real" and online relationships.

(AARP has joined this revolution, partnering with the online dating service How About We to launch AARP Dating in December 2012.) But the online-dating boom has also fueled an invisible epidemic.

Two sharp blows that had left her alone in her late 50s. His cancer took him swiftly, before she had time to process what was happening.