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This presumes, of course, there are lots of options out there. Many of Madison's singletons, myself included, jump into the virtual sea lured by the promise of more fish. You have to cast a wide net, unless you get lucky early on," says Denise, a fellow 32-year-old Madisonian. She met her partner four years ago through Ok Cupid.Before her fateful catch, Denise, who is queer, almost left Madison out of fear she'd never meet someone.Finding that special needle in the haystack does seem somewhat easier online.For one, it is nice to know who else is on the market -- a somewhat awkward question in real life.This greater access has changed the dating game, to some extent."If you have more people to choose from, you might make better choices; or you might have a more difficult time settling because you think there are more options out there," says Toma. Instead, I LOLed, then felt pity, for both my suitor and myself. When this pickup line plopped into my Ok Cupid inbox, swoon I did not.

Denise and Wally are two of the dozen Madisonians who shared with me their online dating stories. Whether driven by necessity or curiosity, everyone seems to be doing it these days, and few are shy to talk about it. It's so commonplace now, it's neither scary nor particularly embarrassing," says Sarah, a 31-year-old Ph. student who has been using Ok Cupid to broaden her otherwise-small graduate school world.

(Perhaps this lingering stigma is why most of my interviewees opted to hide behind a pseudonym.) "It no longer feels like a movement of desperation," says Ann, 40, who has dated online on and off for the past 10 years.

Not only has it allowed her to break out of her largely paired-up and insular social circle, it has also given her a sense of control over the uncontrollable.

Dating in Madison often seems like another of what Rebecca Ryan called a "tier-two tradeoff" in the October 2013 issue of Madison Magazine.

That is, we all make sacrifices to live in our beloved but small city. Fishing for love in a small pond can make your odds of hooking a mate look grim.

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