ASSIGNMENT13 Valentine's Edition: Click on Love

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(WEAU) -- If you're going out with your significant other you might get this question: well, how did you meet?

“We met online”, has become a much more popular answer, but is our society more accepting of couples that meet on the internet?

A recent Washington Post poll reveals 40-million people have tried it, and it's a one billion dollar a year industry.

"It’s a complicated issue, why people might feel apologetic and why they might discount how they got together. I think it comes down to not wanting to have that relationship judged. if you met through friend, you met through friends; where, if it is online, people bring their own stereotypes into that decision,” said Daniel Brandt, Clinical Social Worker with Heinz Psychological Services in Eau Claire.

"I think people look at it as being kind of weird, meeting someone online. My friends from Florida were like; don’t move up there, you don’t know if she is crazy or a psycho; because you don’t know! But then again, I’ve met people at bars that have been crazy. I don’t think people should judge us just because we met on-line, but I know that it happens,” said Joseph Hunt.

Davee Lostetter and Joe Hunt met on MySpace five years ago. Joe from Florida and Davee from Elk Mound have been engaged for 3 years. Both say in the online dating pool of millions, connecting with that special someone, who shares your interests, is much easier.

“There are millions of people online every day and you can meet people from all over the world. Not just locals. A lot of people will say, well you haven’t met them in person. It’s more risky, or its unconventional; I think that if you do go to the bar you’re meeting someone that might have had three, four, five drinks in them already, and you really not getting to know that person,” said Lostetter.

“We set on the computer every evening, and we talked about our days. We had so much to talk about, and it got exciting to get off of work at night, and you know, rush home to jump on. I’d be devastated if I missed him,” said Shannon Lechleitner.

Shannon from Canada, and Eric, from Stanley, met on a chat room almost ten years ago. Both say they were not looking for anything serious. Fast forward to today, and this online couple is now a family.

“To this day I have people picking on me for it. There’re just like, I can’t believe you guys have been together for 10 years,” said Eric.

“Back when I met Eric, I could definitely say that I was embraced. When people would say, well how did you meet, I would come up with something like, oh I met him through a friend, or I met him on vacation,” said Shannon Lechleitner.

But that was then. Now the couple says someday they will tell their four children the tale of how the internet brought them together.

“We have our ups and downs, but it’s like any relationship, whether you mean someone at your hometown, at your school, or on-line. I think it’s all going to be the same. You just have to make the best out of what you can,” said Eric Lechleitner.

And we went to a marriage therapist to find out how has online dating evolved over the years.

“I don’t think there is an on-line stigma anymore. But I do think there was some sort of stigma, because it felt artificial to people. And now going online and searching for anything, including a spouse, doesn’t feel artificial,” said Margo Hecker, Licensed Marriage Therapist with First Thing First, in Altoona.

“Regardless of how you’re meeting people, you’re taking a chance. And if you’re willing to take the chance, then go for it. It worked for us, definitely, it worked for us,” said Lostetter.

As online dating becomes more and more popular, professionals are cautioning couples that participate in online dating, to be careful and be aware of dangers and scams on the internet today.