Love is in the air for Valentine's Day today.
While many people search for that special someone in old-fashioned ways, such as meeting at school, through friends or while out around town, online dating has become a more popular, modern approach.
And Tri-Valley residents have found themselves on both ends of the online-dating spectrum.
Take 25-year-old Amador Valley grad Brent Freitas. He had browsed and participated in conversations on the OkCupid dating website and went on dates on-and-off for a few years but found nothing that blossomed into love.
Then, his heart began to beat after receiving a message from Jaclynn Jones on May 25, 2013, one week after he moved back to Pleasanton after college.
"Jjones08 visits my OkCupid profile, so I visit hers and I am floored by what I see -- we are an 80% friend, 80% romantic match, and her profile is witty, straightforward and razor-sharp," Freitas recalled. "This isn't the kind of girl you just want to hook up with; this is the kind of girl you message in spite of the fact that she lives an hour and 15 minutes away in Modesto."
Jones, also now 25, remembered how she was intrigued by Freitas from the moment she came across his OkCupid profile page among the site's suggested "profiles that might interest you."
"I noticed a thumbnail picture of Brent and his profile made me laugh and he seemed like someone I would like to hang out with," she said.
Freitas and Jones said they were initially concerned about the distance between them geographically, but they soon discovered that distance made their hearts grow fonder of each other.
"When Brent messaged me on OkCupid, I found it funny, interesting and well-written, so I decided he deserved a thoughtful response even though I still thought it wouldn't go anywhere because of the distance," she said. "I don't think I've gone a day without talking to him since then."
A Tuesday evening dinner at Black Bear Diner in Tracy, three days after messaging each other on OkCupid, marked the couple's first date.
"I meet Jaclynn for the first time at the diner and she is an absolute vision," he said. "We talked about school, work, family and life before heading over to a little dive bar called Jack's. We drank a beer and walked around a neighborhood late at night, eventually holding hands as we go."
They then hugged each other goodnight and went their separate ways, hoping to meet again soon.
After dating the next eight months, Jones and Freitas took a leap in their relationship and moved in together.
"I had never thought I would live together with someone so soon, but I was moving to the Bay Area and he was living with his parents so it just made sense at the time. We also co-parent a dog so I would say we are pretty domestic," she said.
They both think teamwork is one of the keys to their successful relationship.
"We're both the type of people who always want to be better, and we use our relationship as another avenue in which we can grow and learn as people," Jones said.
"We compromise whenever possible and treat each other as equal team members," Freitas added.
The couple moved into their second apartment in Sacramento last November and they are currently saving money to buy a house this year. They say they're grateful to the dating site for giving them a starting point to their future together.
"I'm just surprised I found love at all," Freitas said. "OkCupid supplied a space, atmosphere and algorithmic suggestion to message each other -- we would never have found our love without it."
"OkCupid gave us the opportunity to meet and allowed us to put ourselves out there right at the start, but I think the bulk of our success is due to us," Jones added.
From one generation to another, Pleasanton resident Dennis Miller, now 55, met his wife Coni online nearly 16 years ago through the lesser-known Love@aol.com.
Before eHarmony, Match.com and other now-recognizable websites came along, Love@aol.com was a go-to dating site of the late 1990s to early 2000s -- and it still exists today.
"At the time, we were right at the beginning of the online dating world," remembered Dennis, who is a horse racing publicist for the Alameda County Fair and a contributing sportswriter for the Pleasanton Weekly.
Like Dennis, Coni was a single parent at the time looking for a more serious relationship while online dating.
"I was a single mom with three kids and wanted to meet someone that could appreciate what I faced on a daily basis. I wanted to find someone that I could parent children with," she said.
Dennis recalled signing into his Love@aol.com account in November 2000 and finding a message from the woman who would later become his wife.
"At the time I was a single dad of four kids and really just wanted to talk to someone about raising kids. A serious relationship was honestly one of the furthest things from my mind when we started talking," he said.
Coni, who was in her early 40s at the time, said she decided to contact Dennis after an evening of involving her friends in her online dating experience.
"I sat around with four of my friends and we were having some wine one night. They were upset that I was sad, so we all went to Love@aol.com and we each got to pick one guy for me to go on a date with," Coni said. "I actually picked Dennis, but before we met, I did go out on a date with a couple of my friend's picks."
When they met virtually, it just so happened that Coni and Dennis were living a mile apart from each other in Danville.
They moved in together four months after they met, and they will celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary in May.
"Although it might of seemed fast, we knew it was right," Coni said. "We respect each other and we complement what each other likes to do. We both put our kids first and will do whatever we can to make sure the kids have what they need."
Dennis added, "When Coni and I met then got together, it was not just us getting used to being together, but it was about coming together as a family with my four kids and her three. We preached from day one that we are all one family and they have all bought into it. We are truly blessed."
Despite the successful love story, Dennis admitted he initially lied to his family and friends about how he and Coni met, due to the stigma associated with online dating.
"I originally told everyone we met through common friends," he said. "It was probably five to seven years before I admitted that we met through online dating and it was no big deal because we had been together for so long. Be safe and be cautious, but online dating is the best way to go."
Coni also thinks online dating is a good option for people looking to find love in this day and age, saying, it "is the best way to connect with people. Meeting in a bar is just not the way, that is if you are looking for something meaningful."
While there are local online dating success stories, there are certainly less-favorable tales as well.
Livermore resident Allison Meneley said she had one memorable bad experience with a man in the military she met on Match.com and chatted with online for a while.
The 26-year-old then decided to meet up with the guy in person for a date, and the unexpected occurred.
"The date was going well until a girl called him on his phone and he walked away to take it. When he came back, he mentioned that it was some girl from his base that needed a ride somewhere, so I didn't think much of it," Meneley said.
She said when she found him on social media, she began to speculate who this mystery woman really was.
"When I went on his Facebook page, I found that same girl pictured with him everywhere in couple-like positions with people commenting, 'Can't wait to see you two for Christmas,' Meneley said. "I asked him if we could be friends on Facebook, and he said 'I unfortunately don't have a Facebook because I'm worried my enemies will find me.'"
Meneley said she took a break from online dating after that bad experience "because I couldn't put 100% energy into it or dating at all."
Although she still remembers her failed online dating experience, she also took away a life lesson from it. "I figured after those bad moments happened, that the same thing could also happen in the real world, not just the virtual world," she said.
Meneley is not currently in a relationship, but she still goes on dates and is back to online dating.
"I am not in a relationship currently, but I have been going on dates," she said. "I have also opened myself up to online dating again, but I choose to stay away from sites where I had trouble in the past."
She said she is open-minded and patient, believing that love will come to her when the time is right.
"Sure, I don't want to be alone on Valentine's Day, but I am fine with hanging out with guy friends that day and treat it like any other day," Meneley added. "I'm optimistic that love will knock on my door when it's ready."