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Meet Mr. Nice Guy

Times Staff Writer

In the modern age of recyclables, try this one on: a matchmaking Internet site where the men come with a stamp of approval from -- get this -- an ex-wife or an ex-girlfriend, or on occasion from a sister, dear friend or even Mom. In fact, no man gets posted on GreatBoyfriends.com by the strength of his own charms: A woman in his life must refer him. And, boy, is the sisterhood stepping up!

Since Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll and her sister, Cande Carroll, created the singles site in October, it’s getting half a million hits a day, membership has grown to 44,000 and the staff has grown to five. With online dating more popular than ever, GreatBoyfriends.com offers something other sites cannot: a vouching system that helps women feel safer as they enter the wonderful world of Web hookups.

“With Internet dating, the guys are writing their own profiles, and then when you meet him, he’s not 6-foot-3, he’s 5-foot-1 and he’s got pimples and he’s Dr. Chucklehead,” says Carroll, a witty and blunt advice columnist. “With a woman who knows him recommending him as a nice guy, it’s slightly more trustworthy.”

It was that caveat that captured Anna Kalinka, even though she was nursing a broken heart and had no desire to establish a relationship with anyone. Kalinka, a graphic designer who lives in Silver Lake, discovered the site as she soaked in her bathtub reading Elle. At the time, about 35 men were posted, and one, listed as “Sketch,” caught her eye.

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“On a complete lark, I perused it,” said Kalinka, who is in her early 30s. “My heart was very broken and I was being extremely protective. But we started e-mailing back and forth for about three weeks and talked on the telephone, and he just seemed like someone who could be a good friend if nothing else.”

“Sketch” turned out to be David Knott, a 33-year-old animation storyboard artist at Disney, who was placed on the site without his knowledge by three friends who wanted to help Knott find a girlfriend.

“I was a little shocked and mortified but flattered that friends thought of me that way,” says Knott, of Pasadena. “Corresponding with Anna was fun because she was witty and bright and funny, even though she was also cryptic and mysterious. We’re just rolling with every situation, and it’s jelled really well.”

Because Knott and Kalinka have been dating since November, she is trying to spread her fortune by posting her cousin and a good friend to the site. “Initially, this started as a distraction, but it’s turned into something unexpected and something very lovely and precious,” she said. “You just never know.”

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The Carroll sisters did not know their “weensy little baby idea” would take off as it has. E. Jean Carroll says she just wanted to help the thousands of women who write her daily asking how they can meet Mr. Right. “This has never happened in the history of romance. We’re delivering men to women like it’s never been done before, so we’ve done our good deed.”

Good karma, in fact, is what it’s mostly about. To make recommendations, women must answer questions about the men they want to post. The questionnaire covers everything from the man’s finances to his relationship with his mother and even rates the size of his ego.

“Women understand the plight of other women,” said Renee Walton, 31, of New York City, who was one of the first women to post a former spouse. “My ex-husband is a really good guy, and I view him as a brother now. Just because it didn’t work out for us doesn’t mean it can’t work for him with someone else.”

To level the playing field, the Carroll sisters plan to launch GreatGirlfriends. com at the end of the month, taking advantage of the fact that online dating has little or no stigma these days. In December alone, 26 million people visited online dating sites, according to ComScore Media Metrix.

“It’s more acceptable to meet people online now, but it’s still a bit odd,” Kalinka said. “But I don’t want to lie to people about how we met, either.

“The great thing about this site is that I can say we met through a friend. Because we really did.”

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GreatBoyfriends.com

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What: An online dating site: www.greatboyfriends.com

Cost: One-month membership free for women making a referral, or two months free for women making referrals and supplying photographs. All others $20 a month.

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The wide Web of connections

At a loss for what to give that special someone for Valentine’s Day? Or, even worse, haven’t made that love connection yet? Not a problem. There are hundreds of Internet sites and somewhere behind one of those https://s, there’s help for you. But be forewarned. All Valentine’s sites are not created equal and you’ve got to have a vague notion of what you’re looking for.

Here are a few sites that might help Cupid along:

Dating game

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Usually subscription services -- you pay to be matched with other singles. Some offer a cyber-classified personals section:

match.com

kiss.com

udate.com

matchmaker.com

personals.yahoo.com

americansingles.com

solosingles.com

californiasingles.net

Love or something for sale

These sites offer to enhance the romance -- they’re selling a variety of Valentine’s gifts, treats:

mydearvalentine.com

everythingvalentine.com

1800flowers.com

victoriasecret.com

fredericks.com

godiva.com

sees.com

Miscellaneous

Valentine’s history: historychannel.com

Fright fest: valentinemovie.warnerbros.com

G-rated

Includes crafts, games, recipes, and generally considered family oriented.

kidsdomain.com

kidsturncentral.com

dltk-kids.com/crafts/valentines

And if all else fails

Try lovetactics.com -- romance how-to’s with former “Love Connection” host Chuck Woolery.

Or invite your date-less friends over for a game of Valentine Hearts. Go to https://lynx.dac.neu.

edu/n/ncheung/cardgames/

valhearts.html. (Didn’t think it would be easy would you?).

Neither the Los Angeles Times nor this writer assumes any responsibility for the results of any contact with any of the sites above -- if your date turns out to be Quasimodo or Quasimoda, you’re on your own!

-- Carolyn Patricia Scott


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