Online dating was once regarded as a bit strange, and possibly a last resort of the lonely. Now, online dating sites and social networking are downright commonplace! Thousands of people have joined eHarmony and Match.com, and posted a profile on Yahoo Personals. Social networking sites that are more than dating services (such as Friendster and Facebook) are quite popular. But the size of those pools can be intimidating. You can narrow your search for a date by seeking out a niche service, a dating service that caters to people who are like you.
While most sites encourage members to include their interests in their profiles, WeNeither matches people through the things they DON'T like. You can search by sorting through "shared dislikes". It's organized like a bookmarking site; you give your profile a list of tags, and when you browse other's profiles, your shared tags will be highlighted. You can bookmark those you find interesting, and save a list of profiles of people you may want to contact sometime.
IBS Dating stands for "Irritated Being Single", but it could also stand for "Irritable Bowel Syndrome". It's a dating site for those with IBS or Crohn's Disease. It was founded by Craig Jex, who says the problem with dating for IBS suffers stems more from the anxiety surrounding the dating experience than from the syndrome itself. He explains why and how he started the service in this interview by Tim Phelan. (warning: mildly explicit discussion).
Dating sites for geeks, golfers, republicans, and more, after the jump.
Nerd Passions is a free networking site for "nerds, geeks, and those who love them." You can browse profiles by location, or by the interest groups members have joined, such as science fiction, role playing games, programming, comic books, Linux, and Slashdot. And like any respectably geeky site, it has an extensive set of sidebar links.
The philosophy behind Golfmates.com is simple: Golf is the perfect first date. Why? It's a sport men and women can enjoy playing together. The sport provides an instantaneous icebreaker—a common interest that two people can discuss. Golf is a relaxing, safe, outdoor activity that provides ample opportunities for socializing between shots. What is more, after nine or 18 holes, a round of golf comes to an end—if two people are not compatible, the end of the round is the end of the date.
Registration is free. The same company also runs Tennisdate.com.
Golf may be a great first date, but scuba diving is a serious and expensive hobby that requires training and planning, and often a lot of traveling. It makes sense to seek out a partner who also dives, or at least understands the time commitment diving requires. ScubaDivingSingles.com offers free registration for those who want to meet divers, but the "news" page hasn't been updated since 2003.
When you have serious political convictions, it's hard to click with someone who doesn't share your views. Enter the political dating sites. Republican Singles.com bills itself as "a community to meet the Right person." Democratic Singles.com is, of course, the counterpart. Both sites are free to join, and are run by the same company.
MPwH stands for Meet People with Herpes. People who meet through this site don't have to dread breaking the news to their date. The site has lots of success stories posted (without names), which you can read if you sign up. Registration is free. MPwH (also known as HDate) has over 69,000 members, but there are quite a few other dating sites catering to those with the herpes virus.
DateMyPet.com is dating site for pets and pet lovers. You can browse without registration, stating whether you are looking for a playdate for pets, a match for yourself, or both. You can even sort by the type of pets. The site also has links to pet advice, dating advice, and stories.
In researching this article, I ran into some sites that I didn't include because they didn't seem to be quite what they appeared. There are two schools of thought on selecting a dating service. One says "you get what you pay for" and why should you go for a partner who won't pay for a premium dating site. The other says if you must pay before you can see what you're getting, then you may be burned. However, some sites require registration only for the privacy of their members. Before signing up for any dating service, do some research on their methods, reputation, and policies.