Niche Dating Sites: Narrowing Down Your Love Life Choices
Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine's Day forces you to think about your love life. And if there happens to be a dearth of love in that life, you're reminded at every turn of the innumerable options available to change that.
Besides matchmakers (unofficial or otherwise), singles events and random encounters, online dating sites are the one spot every unattached person finds themselves at one point or another.
"I have a lot of clients who thought they'd never get into a relationship and struggled to find someone in the real world, then found love online" says Kimberly Moffit, a psychotherapist and Match.com's Canadian relationship insider. "The filter is so large, so you've got an endless supply of people that could be compatible with you."
Statistics on dating site usage range in estimates from 10 to 25 per cent of the population, but there's no question that getting online to find love is far more common today than even three years ago. And for people trying to perfect their "pitch", honesty should always be the policy.
"If you have any quirks or personality traits that people will find cute and endearing, definitely include them in your profile," says Moffit. "It's a good idea to be specific and not be embarrassed about the things you're interested in."
If you're less inclined toward a massive pool from places like Match.com or eHarmony, there's also an entire world of genre-specific sites out there, targeting particular interests and people on their own. Beyond sites that focus on religion or -- at the other end of the spectrum -- sexual proclivities, it's hobbies and passions that are inspiring more matches. And though finding a partner who shares your interests is only natural, the people behind the sites have been surprised to discover that the similarities are only the jumping off point.
"Our original assumption was that people would want to seek out others with a specific taste in books," says Matt Sherman, co-founder of ALikeWise, a site that focuses on book choices. "It turns out that our users are more interested in the fact that a person is interested in reading at all! In fact, many people tell us that they don't have similar reading tastes with their significant others -- but that they do like smart, engaged people."
Check out these niche dating sites that focus less on what you look like (we said less) and more on what you love to do:
If your love for Apple products goes beyond mere convenience and broaches on a lifestyle, then Cupidtino is for you. The dating site for Apple fans just <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cupidtino/id427738749?mt=8" target="_hplink">launched an iPhone app</a> (and yes, it's only for iPhone), allowing fanboys and fangirls to connect on a whole new level. According to co-founder Amol Kelkar, the top cities for usage are:<br>1. Los Angeles<br>2. San Francisco<br>3. New York<br>4. Chicago<br>5. Moscow<br>6. London<br>7. Toronto
Ever investigated the bookshelves of a potential suitor and based any future dates on what you found? Then <a href="http://alikewise.com/" target="_hplink">ALikeWise</a> is right up your alley -- it's a site that matches its 15,000 members according to book tastes. But like so many of this niche options, tastes don't have to be identical; the simple interest in reading is enough of a turn on for many.
Why find yourself a fellow golfer? "Golf is truly the only sport that men and women can enjoy together (save bowling and tennis)," says <a href="http://golfmates.com/" target="_hplink">Golfmates.com</a> founder Scott Kroeger. "It eliminates any intimidation that any other sport would bring in a dating setting. And since golf is a game that requires a high degree of integrity, you can instantly learn a lot about a date during a round of golf. Cheating and club throwing are obvious signs of a partner that should be avoided."
HowAboutWe.com works on a simple premise -- people might want to meet online, but they want to get off the computer and into real life as soon as possible. The site lets people come up with date ideas and find one another based on location and activity compatibility. "It's low pressure. No more over-analyzing profiles and messages -- just schedule the date and get out there, into the real world," explains national community manager Erin Scottberg. She notes that spikes in traffic occur two weeks before Valentine's Day, and then a week afterwards -- likely no one wants <em>that </em> kind of pressure for a first date.
According to co-founder Anne Lambert, <a href="http://www.sciconnect.com/" target="_hplink">Science Connection</a> isn't just for people who love messing around in a lab. "I think [our members have] a shared curiosity about how the world works and a shared enjoyment of lifelong learning. Readers, other academics, journalists and others also share this." She also notes that traffic remains pretty uniform year-round -- after all, "this is one of the unusual things about our species -- that we're always in mating season."
Planet Earth Singles
Hate having to convince partners to compost? <a href="http://www.planetearthsingles.com/" target="_hplink">Planet Earth Singles</a> takes care of that problem by catering to people who think of every day as Earth Day, and makes sure they find each other. "It makes living a green life so much easier when both partners have the same values and priorities," explains founder Jill Crosby. "It's pretty hard for an environmentalist to watch their partner throw a plastic bottle in the trash or leave all the lights on in the house." Valentine's Day is also the site's biggest day, so get online on February 14 for the best possible options.
Food tends to play a major role in a relationship for many, at least during the initial dating period. And for every person who's ever scanned a menu with wary eyes, looking for a non-meat option, <a href="http://www.veggiedate.org/" target="_hplink">Veggie Date</a> is the place to go. The lifestyle tends to extend into other areas as well. "Some generalizations about our clientele are that they are into health, pets, volunteer work,the outdoors; they are generally NOT into materialism, 9-5, TV, SUVs," says Steve Urow, the site's founder. While Veggie Date does accept non-vegetarians, it's generally under the assumption that they'd like to adopt the diet choice at some point in the future -- after finding love, perhaps?
Very few authors inspire entire communities to rally around them, but Ayn Rand is no ordinary author. <a href="http://www.theatlasphere.com/" target="_hplink">The Atlasphere</a> isn't just a dating site -- it includes literary columns, seminar notices, and the like -- but it is unique to Rand lovers. "I think it's ultimately about finding people who share what Rand called her 'sense of life' -- her sense of whether our lives can have a noble purpose, whether it's right to hold our highest values strongly and unapologetically," explains founder Joshua Zader. And as for the assumption that Objectivists would have no interest in joining together? "Nothing could be more wrong than the oft-repeated bromide that individualists don't appreciate or don't understand community," says Zader. "In an important sense, they are the only ones who do understand community, because they recognize that other people are not your property. The foundation of a healthy community is respect for each person's rights and personal freedoms, and a commitment to finding win-win solutions rather than demanding personal sacrifices." Sounds pretty similar to advice for a healthy relationship to us.
Sea Captain Date
Who hasn't been attracted to someone in a captain's hat at some point? If you want to take that one step further, <a href="http://www.seacaptaindate.com/index.html" target="_hplink">Sea Captain Date</a> is the place for you. Currently geared specifically toward sailors, but soon to include captains from all industries, the users tend to be people who adore boating, want to know more about the adventures of being a sea captain and are looking to find love within their hobby.<br> "Our site appeals to individuals who are overwhelmed with technology and want something simple and easy to use -- they are not looking to text or chat online," says founder Robert Atlas. "They simply want to meet and go on a scenic date - typically in a sail boat, or beach related."