With four children from a previous marriage Fiona, 50 never imagined a romantic Valentine’s Day date with a lovely man she met online would reveal her true love.

When Fiona Manning, 50 decided to do online dating in 2012 she had been married previously for 23 years to someone who was nearly fifteen years older than her. With four children from a previous marriage she wanted to ensure dating would be both a fun and a safe experience.

“Before signing up to eHarmony I had been on a date with someone that had picked me up in the Apple Store at Castle Hill. He was a lot younger than me,” she says. “We went out a couple of times but we really had nothing in common and it certainly made me start thinking about what I wanted out of a relationship and the kind of person I wanted to meet.”

Thankfully trying to work out the best way to meet the right person was a lot easier than she expected. “I wanted to start dating again and some of my girlfriends encouraged me to try online dating. I thought I would give eHarmony a go and ended up meeting Chris two weeks after I joined. I had signed up for a year! We both made the effort to complete the online profile and I believe that is why we have been such a good match,” she says.

Fiona met Chris Brown, 52 just two weeks after and the two have been together since. With no children of his own Chris is a widower who had lost his wife of 15 years a year prior to their meeting.

Happily living together the couple both say marriage is on the horizon.

Q. When did you first start communicating with your partner?
She says: February 2012, I had only been on eHarmony for two weeks!
He says: I had seen many women over a six-month period through eHarmony but there were no connections. Fiona was the last woman I was matched with before stopping eHarmony.

Fiona and Chis met online through eHarmony

Q. When did you go on your first date? What did you do?
She says: Our first date was on Saturday 9th February 2012. We met at Parramatta Park Café at 9.30am. It was a beautiful sunny day. We were only supposed to have coffee but we hit it off straight away and ended up staying for lunch. Next thing we knew it was 3.30pm and they were kicking us out as they actually shut at 3pm. Chris kissed me twice as we walked back to our cars. He took me by surprise the first time. I thought it was rather brave of him for a first date with someone you hadn’t met before. He told me after that seeing as I didn’t flinch the first time, he kissed me again.

The following day I was doing the Colour Run and he sent me a text at 7.30am wishing me luck. I didn’t respond straight away and was also a little wary because Chris had lost his wife to cancer and was still in mourning. I knew that it could potentially be something that could be difficult for me to handle emotionally, knowing that he would always love Catherine, but we have worked through it and the highs and lows have certainly been worth it.

He says: We first met at a cafe for coffee at 9:30am, ended up having lunch, and then was tossed out because they were closing at 3pm. Our first date was for dinner a few nights later at the Port Bar in Parramatta on Valentine’s Day. I had booked the table to take my previous match too but it didn’t work out. So Fiona was the lucky gal.

Q. When did you realise this was something special?
She says: On our second date, which was on Thursday 14th February, Valentine’s Day. He turned up in his red sports car and wearing a purple shirt. Purple is my favourite colour. He looked very smart and handsome, I just melted when I saw him as I really appreciated the effort he had gone to. I took his hand after we got out of his car to walk to the restaurant. He said he thought that it was a cute thing to do. It was a very romantic evening followed by a stroll along Parramatta River afterwards.

He says: The moment I first saw her – at least she looked like her photo! But definitely after that first dining. I had never been a Valentine’s Day fanatic, but with the heightened sense of romance in the air, we didn’t stand a chance.

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What's your ideal date?

Q. What makes you two so compatible?
She says: We have great respect for each other. We are good communicators. We are both very affectionate. We often remark that we act like a couple of teenagers. We both enjoy the same things: going to the theatre, walking, eating out, movies, travelling, keeping fit and healthy. We cook together. We share the household chores. Neither of us look or act our age. That said we can be serious but life is too short to not make an effort to enjoy it.

He says: Our honesty. Neither of us sugar coat. We say it as it is.

Q. What does the future hold for you two?
She says:
He says: Marriage is on the near horizon.

Q. What has been a significant time in the relationship?
She says: The first time I met his family. He has three brothers. As Chris had lost his wife to cancer and his family weren’t used to seeing him with someone else it could have been very awkward but they were all so welcoming. He has a lovely family. Chris’s eldest brother, every time he sees us together either says “I can’t believe you met online” or “you are so good together”!

He says: We recently spent two magical weeks in Paris, London, Cambridge and Singapore. We had the best time. Not one argument or upset.

Q. What’s your favourite thing about your partner?
She says: I love the way he snuggles into my hair and makes this purring noise. It makes me giggle.
He says: Her bubbly nature.

Q. What’s your partner’s best quality?
She says: He has a beautiful soul, he makes me feel safe.
He says: Her desire to eat well and be healthy.

Q. What’s your favourite thing to do with your partner?
She says: Enjoy life.
He says: We often go to live theatre. We both appreciate fine dining too.

Q. What’s the thing you miss the most about your partner when they’re not around?
She says: Everything, when Chris isn’t around I feel like half of me is missing.
He says: Everything. Her smile, her laughter, her cuddles, her smell.

Ready to take that first step? Listing these hobbies and interests are most likely to score you a date!

Ever wondered what hobbies and interests are most attractive to a potential partner? After studying more than 100,000 Australian eHarmony member profiles, they found that personal growth, health and exercise, politics and travel are the top interests most likely to attract communication requests.

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An interest in politics and travel are the top two things women say they find attractive in men

According to the findings, men with an interest in politics are considered the most attractive to women, followed by those with an interest in travel, health and exercise, food and theatre. On the flipside, the top five hobbies and interests listed by women that are most likely to capture men’s attention are: personal growth, health and exercise, food, family and dancing.

Top ten interests for men and women

Most attractive interests for men to list in their profileMost attractive interests for women to list in their profile 
1. Politics1. Personal growth
2. Travel 2. Health/exercise  
3. Health/exercise 3. Food 
4. Food 4. Family 
5. Theatre 5. Dancing 
6. Learning 6. Art 
7. Photography 7. Photography 
8. Finding love 8. Friends 
9. Charitable 9. Outdoor interests 
10. Family 10. Work/career 

We asked Melanie Schilling, Psychologist and Dating Coach to decipher the reason behind these findings.

Melanie says to be aware that: “You may very well be enticed to someone who is interested in politics, travel or personal growth, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be well-suited in the long-term. The best advice is for men and women to be open and honest in their profiles.

Whilst some interests may be seen as more “popular” than others, what really matters is genuine compatibility. Although the findings suggest that personal hobbies and interests can have an impact on how we’re perceived by the opposite sex, eHarmony matches its members based on core personality traits and values, which, in the long run, are far more significant than superficial factors like hobbies which evolve over time.

“While it’s nice to have some hobbies in common, it’s important to look beyond this and be true to yourself. Take the opportunity to highlight the activities you participate in that link to your highest values, the stuff that really matters to you. This will ensure you attract matches with the right combination of interests, values and personality for you.”

Have you or someone you know found love online? Join the conversation below.