If you’re afraid of the stigma of Internet dating, you should get over it. It’s not like there’s some guarantee that the person who chats you up at a party and hands you his/her number isn’t a serial killer. The real problem with online dating is how vast the pool is — and how shallow it seems. That’s why we have niche dating sites, havens for those who have a specific sort of someone in mind and probably won’t find that someone browsing the corner store.
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: Ayn Rand fans: objectivists, libertarians, “free-thinkers,” anyone who thinks poor people are only poor because they’re less virtuous.
DETAILS: Free to browse. In order to view photos and contact people you must purchase a $10/month subscription; 15,000 profiles.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT: “I am the most honest person I know. I am somewhat like Howard Roark, people will be nice to me to my face but some people describe me (mostly behind my back) as ‘too logical,’ ‘doesn’t recognise the human side of things,’ ‘has to have a reason for everything he says and does,’ stubborn, difficult, ‘doesn’t just go with the flow’ and too idealistic. I am quite different than most people.”
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: Everyone has to pay for their own food, preferably in gold.
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: Apple fanboys. Apple fangirls. People who solve bar fights using iPhones and talk about how their dating website has an “uncluttered interface” and have “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” tattooed on their wrists.
DETAILS: $4.79 a month (changes with the price of a venti mocha lite in the Cupertino Starbucks); 30,000 have signed up.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT: “I listen to tech podcasts more than music … I play disc golf when I can, and I’m an avid geocacher.”
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: You’d probably FaceTime for a couple of hours before timidly looking up from your iPads and ordering venti mocha lites.
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: Down-home country guys and women who know how to shoe a horse. You do not have to own or work on a farm to join, so city mice with horse and buggy fantasies should feel free to take a look.
DETAILS: Free to sign up and browse. To send personal messages you’ll have to pay $16 per month (or $50 for 6 months); the site claims to have more than 100,000 members.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT: “I am tired of this internet dating … if you can even call it that. Someone needs to COWBOY UP and BE that ONE.”
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: Once around the park in the tractor, driver, and keep your eyes on the road.
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: Ginger supremacists, people who had enormous childhood crushes on Jean Grey from “X-Men” or Josie of “Josie and the Pussycats.”
DETAILS: Free to browse profiles, chat with other members, send messages and write a “dating diary” for a $30/month subscription.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITH A LITTLE BIT OF COMMENT: “rad.” (That was an entire profile.)
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: It depends if you wind up with an actual ginger (in which case it’s just a normal date but you both carry sunshades) or just someone looking to date a ginger (in which case they will probably ask to touch your hair, and it will be creepy).
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: People who define themselves by what they like rather than what they are like. Which, incidentally, is a reference to a book. If you know which one, maybe we should date. When you join, you name books that you think represent your taste and browse other people’s profiles by searching for books and authors they like.
DETAILS: Free, but may start charging for “certain features” at some point.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT: On “Infinite Jest”: “My first exposure to David Foster Wallace, and one which yields up new insights on every rereading. It bugs me, though, when he mangles the math.”
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: “So, what have you been reading lately?”
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: Though it’s clearly aimed at “Star Trek” fanatics, most geeks have multiple geek interests, and you can find enthusiasts of “Star Wars,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “Doctor Who” here as well.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT: “Salutations [insert name]! You have just stumbled across my obligatory description section! [ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED]Welcome. I am a carbon-based student currently attending college on an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think social networking sites are a pretty neat idea.”
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: Speaking Klingon is for casual fans. You’ll flirt in Ferengi, the constructed language of the less-popular alien people of Ferenginar.
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: People who desperately need you to tell them they’re beautiful. This, in case you were wondering, is the road to happiness. To browse, you have to create a profile and upload a photo, then wait 48 hours while other members vote on whether you’re hot enough to join.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITH A LITTLE COMMENT: “Live is short, to be boring” (This is not a typo.)
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: “You’re prettier in your pictures.” “You talk a lot.” Strolling to the reflecting pool and staring at ourselves so intently that we fall in.
WHO YOU’LL MEET HERE: People who are proud of their ability to grow a mustache, and others who’ve always secretly wanted to date a Civil War general. You can sort results by mustache styles — Walrus, Pencil, Fu Manchu, etc.
REPRESENTATIVE SENTENCE, PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT: “I am looking for a girl that can love my moustache as much as me.”
WHAT WE’D EXPECT FROM A DATE: It’s going to tickle when you kiss him.
None of these websites caters to the single largest demographic in history: the dead. Ghostsingles.com allows you to search for other lonely ghosts, specifying whether they died “horribly,” “mysteriously,” “tragically” or “suddenly.” The site is free, but you have to be dead first. Ghosts are tied to the place where they died, so a date might be hard, unless you find a cute coffee shop where a lot of people suspiciously went missing. Ghostsingles.com enables chat with other ghosts, but it’s mostly random Internet mortals saying “lol.”