Anyone who's ever tried dating knows that it can be a scary—and at times frustrating—experience. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a place where you could screen dates before ever meeting them, or let someone (or something) else pick potential matches for you? In this guide we'll show you how to use the Internet to do all those things. We'll provide you with dating sites for people with specific interests or lifestyles, as well as sites that evaluate all these online dating services. We'll even show you how to stay safe with online dating.
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The most popular dating sites surely have a numbers advantage over some of the niche dating sites but ultimately your search for a romantic match will be about quality, not quantity. Sure, on large dating sites you can choose certain preferred attributes in a mate, but you may still be matched with users who lack qualities that are very important to you (for example, you love animals, or you can't live without luxury). Niche dating sites are like swimming in a pond to find a like-minded mate, rather than drowning in a sea of mismatches.
- Lots of the more generic dating sites will let you browse user profiles without signing up for the service, but some of the niche dating sites ask you to create a profile before you browse to protect user privacy or to ensure that you are a serious about using the site.
- You'll be surprised how many niche dating sites are out there. If you don't see one that interests you in this guide, try a search for your interest and the phrase "dating." For example, there are sites for technology enthusiasts (www.gk2gk.com), sites for single military personnel (www.militarydate.com), and many more.
For sites that match hobbies or activities ...
helps match you with people who like to do the same things you do, and it's free. Movies, fishing, ice skating-whatever your hobby may be, this site has someone else who likes it too. You can search for other singles by activity, but perhaps the best feature of this site is that you can post a specific activity that you'd like a partner for (for example, going to the movies or a concert) and choose a date from the people who respond.
For those put off by the traditional online dating scene ...
It's Just Coffee
is for the witty, sarcastic, socially conscious, or arty to engage in no-pressure interaction online. The founder of the Web site takes the liberty of deleting the unworthy or creepy from the site at his own discretion. The site is free but you must register to search and view profiles. You'll find articles and advice here as well.
For pet owners or pet lovers ...
lets you create a detailed profile for yourself and for your pet. Unlike many other dating sites, here you can send e-mails to other users for free. Through a partnership with the Humane Society, you'll even find pet care tips
Date My Pet
allows you to search for friendship or love with someone who understands your love of your pet. You can search for users who are looking for romance, or you can look for "pet dates" that are not necessarily romantic but that involve you and your pet spending time with another user and pet (for example, a walk in the park with your dogs). Users post pictures and profiles of themselves and of their pets, and other users can rate the cuteness of the pet pictures. To purchase a membership (and be able to contact other members) you'll pay about $15/month or $40 for six months.
For older folks ...
is a free dating and friendship site for an older crowd. You can search profiles by location and then by age and relationship type (friendship, a serious relationship, or marriage). There are three chat rooms with telling names-lobby, gazebo, and boudoir-for engaging in different types of chat, a magazine with interactive polls, and blogs to keep you informed on the dating scene.
For those with special medical or physical considerations ...
specializes in matching people with medical and health conditions (such as STDs, cancer, HIV, obesity, and others) for friendship or romantic relationships.
is a large online community for people living with STDs as well as people interested in meeting others with STDs. The forum section of this site allows users to post concerns or questions about life, love, or questions specific to STDs. Guest membership is free and allows you to set up a profile and look at other profiles. If you want to initiate contact with other members you can sign up for gold membership for about $30/month (less if you sign up for more months at a time).
allows people (HIV/AIDS positive or negative) to meet and interact with others in a private and safe environment. POZ Personals is part of a larger site that has information, a calendar of events, and other resources for people living with HIV/AIDS.
For those who are most concerned with physical appearance ...
is a dating site driven by user photos. Browse photos of other users and mark them "yes," "no," or "mayB." All of your yeses will be saved and your photo will be secretly shown to those users. If they like your photo too, you can begin to contact each other through the site.
definitely wants only a certain usership: the extremely attractive. If you think that's you, be prepared for some harsh judgment by the other users of the site. In order to become a member, you must submit a photo and go through a trial membership period where other users vote on how good looking you are. If you don't make the cut, you won't be able to look for love on this free site.
For those looking for a wealthy mate ...
doesn't require that all of its members are millionaires, but it does boast a large usership of the wealthy and famous. Millionaires can actually become "certified" on this site by sending a few documents to the site as proof and thus increase their appeal to other users. You can browse member profiles and send form messages for free, but you'll have to pay to send e-mails or to have advanced profile search features. Depending on how long and what type of membership you subscribe to, you'll pay anywhere from about $16 to $30 per month.
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