When it began, internet dating was taboo; it had a reputation for being a bit of a last resort. Now it’s part of normal life, replacing the bar scene for some, church socials for others, or meeting in a hobby group. These days, despite improved communications, the sprawling urban jungles have made it harder to meet people during day to day life. If you aren't in school and don't work in a social environment, options are limited. We rush to the gym, commute anonymously to work or school, take quick lunches, leave our regular daytime digs to rush back home, maybe doing grocery shopping or an errand on the way. Cook, eat, and wash up, down time— before starting all over again. For single parents, time is even tighter. Where on earth (and when!) does the busy modern man or woman meet someone?
It’s a jungle out there. People complain about the online process, how there are very few good matches to an enormous volume of duds. The truth is, it’s always been a jungle; online dating is just expanding our world to include people whose paths you likely wouldn't have crossed before. You might have different educational or cultural backgrounds that would have limited your exposure to each other before. And people are coming round to online dating rapidly; according to Pew research in 2013, 59% of all internet users think online dating's a good idea.
And perhaps you have a partner preference that would normally limit your options to the extreme. In that case, online dating is all the more useful: If the average dating site doesn’t offer what you want, you can find a site tailored for people who share your niche or unusual interests. The ten sites you are about to read up on are among the narrowest of niche sites, tailor-made for people with a certain, very particular requirement. Some may make sense and others may seem to be almost ridiculous—to you—but we all have our place. These sites show that there is, indeed, something for everyone. If someone has a particular wish or need, there’s bound to be someone else who does, too. What are the most popular of the niche dating sites? Using the global traffic ratings on alexa.com (AGR), we offer you these Top 10. For a point of reference, this list's #1 niche site beats out popular dating site Lavalife by a good margin, whereas Plenty of Fish outshines everything here to the extreme, with an AGR of 358. All stats correct at the time of writing (who knows? Maybe in a few month 'brony passions' will take over from match.com...).
10 Brony Passions: AGR 7,652,831
If you've ever had a daughter or a niece, or were yourself a child in recent generations, you may have memories of My Little Pony television shows or pastel-coloured toys with braided tails littering the tub at bath time. What’s a Brony? Just what it sounds like—a “bro” who likes ponies, and not just any ponies, but My Little Ponies. There are many self-confessed Bronies among the straight and gay male populations. Want to meet one, or someone interested in such a guy? The dating site Brony Passions is the place for you. This doesn't just cater for males, either. If you're a 'pegasister' - a female 'Pony fanatic -then you're welcome on this dating site too.
9 Singles with Food Allergies: AGR 3,992,704
Allergic to gluten? It’s hard to have a mate who eats lots of freshly baked bread in front of you. If your allergy is to peanuts, things become more serious and your partner can likely never consume peanut products in your presence. Forever is a long time. Wouldn't it be simpler to find someone who shares your food needs? Definitely. Let’s hope you’ll have other things in common, too. For a chance at finding love and a dietary match, try the site Singles with Food Allergies.
8 Trek Passions: AGR 3,612,855
Trekkies have been around since there was Star Trek. Whether you're a fan of the Original Series with Spock and Captain James T. Kirk, or came in later for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise, there’s a character for everyone. Do you want to play Chekov? Captain Picard? Maybe Quark or Worf is more your style, or you like the android behaviors of Data, or Seven of Nine’s Borg origins. Whatever one’s penchant, as long as it fits into the Trekkie world, this site will find you another with similar interests. “Beam me up, Scotty!” (although if you're a true Trekkie, you’ll know this exact phrase was never used in a Star Trek episode.)
7 STD Match: AGR 3,246,174
All across the world there are couples right now who share STDs, as well as those who don’t. You might meet someone with an STD and fall in love anyway, or maybe you meet before symptoms develop. It's not a perfect world. Despite condoms and our best efforts, there are always unknown factors, not least of which are the partners our partners had before us. For some STDs, precautions may seem enough, especially for those who have periods of remission. But if you're currently single, a carrier, and honest, many might stay away. This site is pretty useful—and initially very anonymous—and somewhere STD sufferers can limit their choices to others with the same disease, eliminating the risk of transferral and skipping over that inevitable awkward conversation.
6 Stache Passions: AGR 2,643,111
Exactly what it sounds like, this online dating site is for men with facial hair and the women who love them. From goatees to full-on caveman style, modest lip crawlers to gigantic handlebars with twirled and waxed ends, all kinds are on Stache Passions. Do you like that tickling sensation when he kisses you? This is the place for you, where men can post their latest styles, and women with a penchant for the male facially hirsute can come and preview the various “wears.”
5 Purrsonals: AGR 2,580,376
Are you someone who thinks the dogs versus cats argument is a deal breaker? For those who love their cats, this feline-friendly dating site will make sure no dog person, or worse cat hater, inadvertently enters your love life. Cat allergies? That’s one complication you don't need in your love life. Some may have an aversion to felines’ purrsonalities, or maybe an aversion to hair sticking to furniture and clothing. What if you fell in love and the person asked you to declaw your cat before moving in? That could be a deal-breaker. This site will deter all above possibilities, as cat lovers and their lovers get friendly. Meow…
4 The Atlasphere: AGR 659,234
Are you an Objectivist? This Ayn Rand-inspired forum is for people who admire her books Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Over a decade old, The Atlasphere is for both non-dating and dating users with a directory of just under 31,000, of which nearly 17,000 have dating profiles. Rand was a writer whose personal philosophy of libertarianism was a prominent and central part of her work. Her prose shouts her politic: individual freedom is higher than all else. She framed and explored community and country only insofar as they relate to the individual—a sort of Everyman. How do two individuals who put themselves above each other date? As in Rand’s work, they may end up on a high plateau.
3 Find Your Facemate: AGR 562,705
Some research shows that we are attracted to those with similar facial features to ours. The ultimate in narcissism? Maybe. But philosophers have been saying since Plato that what we love in others is what we recognize in ourselves. Some have gone so far as to say all love is self-love, no matter who we think the good feeling is directed toward. This dating site puts that theory into practice, helping people find their “facemate” by using facial recognition software combined with a series of algorithms to make the best match. One warning: what we hate about ourselves might be just as potent as what we love. Some food for thought.
2 Meet an Inmate: AGR 118,551
This website has had nearly 11,000,000 visitors and has a legal disclaimer saying it is to connect “pen pals,” but the FAQ page mentions that: “Sometimes people do…meet and consider a relationship…” There must be a lot, because this is our second most trafficked of the niche social networking sites. As with more typical dating sites, users list interests and hobbies in their profiles, and post photos. The only difference is that the glass is one-way: civilians can search inmate profiles and get in touch, but inmates do not have free internet access or any initial choice themselves. Their selection is limited to those that contact them by old-fashioned snail mail.
1 Farmers Only: AGR 35,800
The lifestyle of a farmer has a clear daily and monthly schedule, with long hours shifting depending on the season. Professionals who go on frequent business trips might be suited to dating someone similar, but if you’re a farmer dating a 9-5 office worker, bedtimes and other scheduling issues are bound to arise. Would you rather be with someone who, like you, spends a lot of time outdoors, knows hard physical labor and the satisfaction of concrete, visible achievements? These days, you might need a dating site to find the type of partner your local community would have had in abundance for you not even a century ago. Clearly there’s a serious marker for this highest-ranked site on our list, which will help a farmer find that needle in the haystack.