Match.com released its annual survey of singles last week and, as always, the findings ranged from odd to obvious to not quite helpful. Some examples: Sushi on the first date increases chances of a second; 60 percent of singles surveyed think the evening is the best time for a date; half of the respondents said that a “good” first encounter should end with a kiss.
If mainstream modern courtship, with all its vague standards and fluid expectations, isn’t working for you, you can tailor your search for love with these 10 niche dating websites or apps.
Jerry Miller was working in agricultural marketing and heard the same story from many farmers: Dating was tough. Nobody else understands the relentless hours and how “everybody knows everybody in their small rural community,” Miller told CBC Radio, “and if they didn’t marry their high school sweetheart, they have a serious problem.” So he started FarmersOnly, where 4 million people have created profiles in the hopes of harvesting a relationship. Users pay a monthly fee around $15 to send and receive messages.
It makes sense: 20 percent of farmers and ranchers and 27 percent of other agricultural workers marry within the profession, two of the highest rates of any industry, according to Priceonomics. “[H]e met me at a Western Store because every country girl needs another new pair of boots,” a user named Amanda wrote of meeting her partner on FarmersOnly. “Little did he know, I had heard several horror stories about people meeting online and so again in true country girl fashion, I carried my revolver in the car with me on our first date. He likes to joke around that after over a year together that my Judge still has the same bullets in it.”
If the mood was broken during your last romantic picnic when your date pulled out a $9 bottle of something he couldn’t pronounce, try VineaLove, “the first international dating website and social network for wine lovers." The site, created by former wine journalist Françoise Pauly and her daughter Roxane Brooke in 2013, costs $20 a month and claims to have about 2500 members, half of whom work in the wine business.
"I was dreaming of having an international platform for wine lovers and so we decided to make it also a social network and professional network as well," Pauly told The Los Angeles Times. The service also hosts events where members can sample vintages with each other.
The dating site for bibliophiles, Alikewise asks users to combine a profile with paragraph-sized reviews of their favorite books. Find a soulmate who also remembers all the different Aurelianos in One Hundred Years of Solitude, or just load up your Amazon wish list by learning what other people who like Gabriel García Márquez are into. Web developers Matt Sherman and Matt Masina launched the site in 2010, though Alikewise's future seems to be up in the air. As of last year, they have been looking for someone to buy the site from them.
Because much of dating is eating together, there is VeggieDate, a site which is geared towards vegetarians but allows users to get much more specific. They can select their level of culinary exclusion, from “vegetarian at home” to “raw vegan,” and their reason for going meat-free, a value that crosses into a slew of religions and lifestyles (“yoga vegetarian” is a category). The site, online since 1999, features both free accounts and premium paid membership plans.
5. TREK PASSIONS
A go-to for sci-fi fans is Trek Passions. The site, one of a handful launched by the Passions Network of niche dating sites in 2004, advertises itself to not just fans of Gene Roddenberry’s immortal media franchise but to devotees of old-school speculative fiction in general.
The message boards indicate there were signs of life here in the mid-to-late ’00s, but recently it looks as desolate as a planet whose population was assimilated by the Borg.
6. THE ATLASPHERE
Seeking the Dagny to your Galt? Check out The Atlasphere, the dating site for devotees of author Ayn Rand. The site, founded by Joshua Zader in 2003, says it has 17,000 dating profiles—so evaluating each and every user for an adequately productive and independent mate may take slightly less time than reading Atlas Shrugged.
A Vice writer who signed up found a woman with the wonderful username “ObjectivelyHot” who was “[h]oping to find someone as strong as Rearden Metal.” Of course, this is a capitalist endeavor, and you have to pay a $9 monthly fee to send and receive messages.
7. MOUSE MINGLE
Disney classics don't shy away from happily-ever-afters, so it’s natural that fans should try to find a Prince Charming or Snow White over their mutual love of the entertainment giant. Mouse Mingle creator and Disney fanatic Dave Tavres, who established the site in 2015, told Mashable that friends badgered him about his lack of online dating profiles. “I told them I had tried them, but there was no way to narrow down the searches to find women in the right distance and age range who loved Disney,” he said. “That was the inception moment.”
8. NATURIST PASSIONS
Most of us have to wait a good while before seeing our dates naked. You might get to take it all in sooner at Naturist Passions (Beware: NSFW!)—and “sooner” might mean upon clicking on a profile pic. The site claims to be “the first, most-trusted and largest site for nudist/naturist friends in the world.” Users can post their ideal clothes-free date to entice others who live in the buff. A male naturist from Houston would like to “find a nice secluded wooded meadow for a nude picnic of our favorite foods and wine.”
9. SEA CAPTAIN DATE
When Sea Captain Date went viral in 2012, plenty of journalists suspected it was a hoax. The cheeky video featuring a supposed user named Caleb didn’t help. (“My mistress may be the sea, but the thing is, that's just an expression. There’s really no sex involved.”)
According to promotional materials, the founder and CEO is a veteran mariner named Bill Kay, who was 86 when he broke the proverbial bottle of wine on the new endeavor in 2007. His pledge: “In the unforgiving ocean of love, let us be your lighthouse.”
Anna North of Jezebel spoke with a 28-year-old woman who said she began a voyage towards love on the site and met a marine captain who stays in contact, via video chat, on his journeys. "I guess SeaCaptainDate could still be a hoax," North wrote. "But if that's true, someone out there is trying really, really hard to make us believe that you can sign up to date sea captains on the internet. And that's a labor of love in itself."
10. 420 SINGLES
Toking up is a beloved pastime for some, so the existence of 420 Singles should not be a surprise. Site founder Ryan Moxon recounted its 2011 origin story to Cosmopolitan in terms you would expect: “I was like, dude, I know how to build sites, I should just do that. And then I was thinking about how I was single and I went searching for 420 dating sites, but I couldn't find any real ones. To think that people could meet and, like, have a baby because of something I made? That trips me out.” One of the site's presumed benefits? If the person with whom you were furiously exchanging flirtatious texts suddenly fails to message you back for three hours, you don’t have to speculate why.