Glut of niche dating websites help unite singles with oddly specific interests

Glut of niche dating websites help unite singles with oddly specific interests

December 9th, 2014 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

Whether you're a millionaire, a fan of Japanese anime or just really, really into hot sauce, there's a site that wants to connect you with those who have similar passions.

Looking for love

Here are a dozen special-interest and niche websites that have sprung up in recent years. If what's listed doesn't meet your needs, go to Google and search for dating sites in your area of interest. More than likely, there's a service out there that caters to you.

Love for Wits

Tagline: "From the heart, but smart."

Who it's for: "Witty and intelligent singles" who are irritated by dates that involve "inane blather, ... blank stares or humorless hominids with hubris." Joining this network, which was founded in 2010, requires creating a profile and filling out a detailed Q&A that asks for more substantive input than other sites. Responses from potential applicants are screened to verify that they are, in fact, witty enough to join.

Subscription rate: Currently free to join, but the site owners have suggested a membership premium may be charged in the future.

Website: www.loveforwits.com

Farmers Only

Tagline: "City folks just don't get it."

Who it's for: Farmers, ranchers, animal lovers, nature lovers and "other rural and country folk with traditional values." Since launching in 2005, the site has expanded its membership to more than 1 million users, according to its own reports.

Subscription rate: Free to join. Premium memberships start at $21.95 per month, with discounts offered for long-term subscriptions.

Website: www.farmersonly.com

Survivalist Singles

Tagline: "Don't face the future alone."

Who it's for: Singles who are preparing for life after a global calamity or are acquiring skills to survive in the wild. So far, the site reports attracting more than 7,800 members.

Subscription rate: Free to join.

Website: www.survivalistsingles.com

Veterinarian Dating

Tagline: "Date a caring veterinarian. Find love with a vet!"

Who it's for: Veterinarians, vet techs or anyone interested in meeting others who share a mutual "love and respect for all nature's creatures."

Subscription rate: Free to join. Premium memberships start at $27.99 a month with discounts offered for longer subscriptions.

Website: www.veterinariandating.com

Miss Travel

Tagline: "Date abroad: Attractive girls travel free."

Who it's for: Financially strapped "attractive travelers" who want to travel for free on the arm of "generous frequent flyers" who want a bit of company as they trot the globe. The former create profiles, say where they want to go and wait for a companion willing to fork over airline miles to pay their way.

Subscription rate: Free to join for both "attractive" and "generous" travelers. To interact with potential companions, however, generous travelers must purchase a premium subscription starting at $95 a month or use "credits" that must be purchased in packages for $50 to $250.

Website: www.misstravel.com

Stache Passions

Tagline: "Dating and niche social networking for singles with a passion for the stache."

Who it's for: Mustachioed guys -- or potentially ladies -- wanting to meet singles who value stylish facial hair as much as they do. Users with designs on dating someone with a specific type of 'stache can search users by facial hair type sorted by "experience levels," from stache groupie to stache expert.

Subscription rate: Free to join.

Website: www.stachepassions.com

Kingsnake After Dark

Tagline: "The relationship site that's a little -- different."

Who it's for: This offshoot of popular reptile and amphibian pet supply company, Kingsnake.com, offers a chance for owners of snakes, lizards and other scaly species a chance to meet singles who share their passion for all things herpetology related.

Subscription rate: Free to join.

Website: www.kingsnake.com

The Ugly Bug Ball

Tagline: "Dating for the aesthetically average."

Who it's for: Operating under the motto of "deal[ing] in reality" and billed as "real dating for real people," The Ugly Bug Ball purports to match users who accept that they aren't model-pretty with others who have average looks but beautiful hearts and personalities.

Subscription rate: Free to join. Premium memberships start at $39.95 a month with discounts for longer subscriptions.

Website: www.theuglybugball.com

Darwin Dating

Tagline: "Online dating, minus ugly people."

Who it's for: Unlike those who accept their physical imperfections (see The Ugly Bug Ball), Darwin Dating appeals to those who refuse to accept that "liv[ing] in an ugly world" means settling for anything less than a stunningly attractive mate. Potential users must vow that they don't suffer from flaws ranging from "out-of-date hair styles (especially perms)" to "teeth that aren't straight."

Subscription rate: Free to join, but potential applicants must be vetted by the members and visitors to the site who rate photos of the candidate on a five-point "hotness" scale. Only users ages 18 to 35 can apply.

Website: www.darwindating.com

Trekkie Dating

Tagline: "Love long and prosper."

Who it's for: Fans of the Federation, Klingons and Romulans who need a date, a costuming buddy or just a companion for convention attending. Many of the users also list non-Trekkie interests on their profiles, and the site serves as a gathering place for fans of other sci-fi properties.

Subscription rate: Free to join. Premium memberships start at $27.99 a month, with discounts for longer subscriptions.

Website: www.trekkiedating.com

Crew Dating

Tagline: "Never fly solo again."

Who it's for: Members of the airline industry -- pilots, flight attendants, air traffic controllers, etc. -- who want to meet each other or singles with a thing for those who see the world one red-eye at a time. The site bills itself as "the Facebook of aviation."

Subscription rate: Free to join. Premium memberships are $5.95-$7.95 a month, with discounts for longer subscriptions.

Website: www.crewdating.com

Vampire Dating Site

Tagline: "Connect with real vampires who want to date someone like you. Meet your dark soul mate today!"

Who it's for: Anyone who is a fan of vampires or thinks the idea of vampirism is sexually appealing. The site bills itself as a breeding ground for "mythical and Gothic experience[s]" that lets users "indulge in ever-expanding vampire fantasies."

Subscription rate: Free to join. Premium memberships start at $27.99 a month, with discounts for longer subscriptions.

Website: www.vampiredatingsite.com

Are you a reasonably smart, handsome beet farmer with a serious case of wanderlust and a thing for vampires? Don't worry, there's a dating website just for you.

Not your thing? Maybe you're looking for a pastor? Someone who shares your zeal for bluegrass? A date for Wrestlemania XXXI?

The Internet has you covered, too.

At least, that's a reasonable conclusion to draw based on the ballooning number of specialized online dating networks that cater to singles with specific -- occasionally hyper-specific -- interests or backgrounds. Whether you're a millionaire, a fan of Japanese anime or just really, really into hot sauce, there's a site that wants to connect you with those who have similar passions.

Lasting longterm relationships are founded on compromise and reconciling personal differences but, in some cases, not sharing certain beliefs or experiences is a deal killer, says Chattanooga-based relationship coach Marcel Schwantes. As a result, he says, some singles turn to niche dating sites to sift out the romantic chaff and avoid candidates whose differing interests could spell trouble down the road.

"[In dating,] you want to target the person you aspire to spend the rest of your life with," Schwantes says. "A lot of people want to be with someone who shares their values."

Making a connection

Online dating has become a booming business. In August, Forbes reported that 2013 revenue for the U.S. online dating industry totaled more than $2 billion. Match.com, the Web's most popular dating service, is the 300th most-visited site on the Internet, according to data from commercial web traffic monitor Alexa.com.

Studies show that digital dating has long since graduated from a marginal social channel to one of the predominant forms of 21st-century courtship. Based on a study published last year in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science," 35 percent of couples who married between 2005 and 2012 made first contact online.

That makes sense, Schwantes says, because dating-site profiles let members home in on candidates whose personality profiles suggest they will make a good long-term match.

"Over the long haul, assuming the person doesn't have a major life change in how they perceive themselves or the world, that's the glue that holds the relationship together," he says.

Schwantes has personal experience with the power of online dating to track down an ideal partner.

His first marriage fizzled after less than two years once he realized their religious beliefs -- he's a Seventh-day Adventist; she was an atheist -- were irreconcilable. When he decided to search for a new partner in 2006, he met his current wife on Adventist Singles Connection, a website specifically for Seventh-day Adventists.

"In my first marriage, I wasn't true to myself," he says. "[For my second marriage,] I wanted to share the same religious beliefs and values that my wife has."

Schwantes says religious differences are among the top sources of friction in the couples he counsels, but for some people, there are many deal-killer traits they want to avoid.

A devout faith ticked only one box on Teresa Peers' list of qualities in her ideal match. In 2012, three years after losing her first husband to cancer, the Trenton, Ga., resident joined ChristianMingle, which boasts more than 10 million members.

Within two months of signing up, she met her future husband, Bill Peers. They married about a year and a half ago, but not before he won her over thanks to a bevy of shared interests and life experiences.

They were both in their 50s.

He also had lost a spouse to cancer.

Like her, his children were older and out of the house.

Admittedly, he was Church of Christ and she was Baptist, but she says she was willing to overlook that.

"We covered all these topics prior to making a commitment of just seeing each other because I wanted to make sure," Peers says. "I had a lot of people message me on the site, but some of them weren't widowed, and that was an important thing to me.

"[He and I] were able to talk about that, talk about care-giving and grief and that sort of thing. We were able to share a whole lot of things ... that people who hadn't lost a spouse can't talk about."

Narrowing the field

In some cases, niche dating websites center on users with microscopically specific interests.

Last month, the digital doors opened on TagMeADate.com, a new website designed to pair up fans of professional wrestling. In addition to the usual personal info, new members are asked to list their favorite wrestler, finishing move and catchphrase.

Site founder Steve Glenwick says his goal is to make online dating more simple and to help connect fans on an even deeper level than would be possible on more generalized dating sites.

"We are not asking whether you prefer red or white wine, for example," Glenwick writes in an email. "Our profile page is so easy and short to set up, unlike others that make you feel like you have written a college thesis when you're finished."

So far, Glenwick says TagMeADate has attracted about 2,500 members in the U.S. and will roll out support to members in the United Kingdom and Canada by the end of the year.

"Wrestling fans are a loyal, cult-like group," he says. "I don't doubt for a minute that the wrestling fans will help me turn wrestling night into date night."

Although there is a benefit to helping singles narrow their search to those with similar interests, Schwantes says being hyper-specific in that quest comes with inherent risks. There's romantic wisdom to be gleaned in not sweating the small stuff.

"I mean, seriously, is vegetarianism going to be a deal-breaker 10 years down the line, if your husband decides to convert to meat eating? Probably not," Schwantes says. "I think [using a niche site] can be to the detriment of the person who pays for a membership because it just limits their options. They might miss out on a good candidate."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

In some cases, niche dating websites center on users with microscopically specific interests.

In some cases, niche dating websites center on...