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Internet Dating 2.0: Target Your Search to Make a Match
It can get rough out there trying to find a date, let alone your soul mate. If you’re about ready to throw in the towel and/or Aunt Linda tried to fix you up yet again (this time with her dog walker) … do not give up on love. There are now hundreds of dating sites out there that cater to surprisingly specific profiles. There’s JDate.com and MuslimMatch.com for the faith conscious; RightStuffDating.com for Ivy League alums ... and everything in between: Sites to make you a match with someone who's compatible in occupation, preoccupation, diet, parental status, eco-stance or spiritual POV. But before you fill out your profile, start with this guide to Internet dating 2.0
1. Find yourself before you set out to find "the one."
“The best way to find the right dating site is to first discover what your own core values are,” says relationship expert Gay Hendricks. Before you choose a dating site, get in touch with who you really are and what’s essential to you, he suggests.
“If spirituality is a core value and high priority to you,” he adds, “find sites that resonate with that value — and represent your authentic self to the online world. The more we can know ourselves, the easier it is to attract the right mate.”
2. Try a targeted site to help you get noticed.
SingleEdition.com founder Sherri Langburt recommends trying a niche site as opposed to a general dating site like Match.com or Yahoo! Personals because your profile is more likely to stand out.
“Many people flock to the most popular dating sites without realizing that their profile can get overlooked in those highly trafficked destinations,” she says. “With smaller niche sites, chances are you will connect with members who share like-minded values and interests — right off the bat.”
One of the newest niche dating sites, Gaia Soulmates, was launched to to help people find a partner with similar spiritual values. “Once someone’s done their inner work — from nightly intention-setting to visualizing their ideal mate to workshops on self-love and appreciation,” says Gaia Soulmates Director Siona van Dijk, "the next step involves moving outside yourself and taking action. Gaia Soulmates is a great way to gently let the universe know you’re ready to meet someone.”
Van Dijk explains that it can be difficult finding spiritually-minded matches on the larger dating sites where 'spiritual but not religious' is merely one category among many.
Nick and Alexandra, a New York based couple in their early 40s who’ve been married for almost a year and have a 6-month old daughter, met on JDate.com. They were engaged about 4 months after their first date. “I was just coming out of a relationship and wanted to enter the dating pool slowly,” says Nick. “I was hoping to meet someone Jewish and I thought Jdate would be a good place to meet some smart, appropriate women.
Nick says he now recommends JDate to other Jewish people. "I was happy with it," he says. "I met Alexandra there."
3. Be honest.
It’s OK to visit sites that target people you're interested in, even if you’re not member of the targeted group, says Langburt — just be honest about that fact. “Remember Asianfriendfinders.com is for Asians, JDate.com is for Jews, Primesingles.com is for Baby Boomers and SingleParentDating.com is for non-married solo parents,” she says. “If you do not match the criteria but are attracted to those who do, come clean in your profile.”
Part II: Review of 6 intriguing targeted dating sites
To help you get your feet wet, I tried out six of the most interesting targeted dating sites connecting people who share passions ranging from veggies, workouts or mantras to farming or Trekkie trivia (yes, really). Here's what to expect. Happy dating!
Tagline: The site where vegetarians connect
Audience: Vegetarians, vegans, raw-foodists, and macrobiotics for dating, friendships, and penpals
Profile tidbits: Overall a pretty basic profile that allows you to post relevant information about you and what you’re looking for. Unique to this site, aside from the dietary questions, is the extensive choice of religions to choose from, which include Confucian and Sikh (you don’t see that on Match.com.) Also, you have the option of having your specific age listed, or just 20+, 30+, etc. (although I didn’t see a “39 again” option).
Heads up: Wasn’t clear which parts of the profile were optional. For example, through trial and error, I discovered that I didn’t have to enter my income level or weight, but I did have to select an ethnicity and hair color.
Signup fee: Free to search and respond (mostly). Annual memberships range from $36 to $49 per year.
Audience: Sports and fitness enthusiasts
Profile tidbits: A quick questionnaire; mostly multiple choice answers with a focus on appearance, diet and fitness activities. This one too asks you to describe your looks, as well as pick your best feature. I liked their Top 25 Viewed Male and Female Profiles feature.
Heads up: Competition is fierce! Most profiles I viewed were of good-looking, very fit candidates. Made me want to do a sit-up.
Signup fee: Free to sign up, search, and respond to IMs. $29.95 per month or $14.95 per month for six months for the ability to send, receive and respond to emails, send private photos and send IMs.
Tagline: Find your kindred spirit
Profile tidbits: A very provocative survey (if a tad long) that really showcases your creative and spiritual side. And even though I’m not a fan of essay questions, these were not the same-old same-old — they were fun to think about, and I'd really look forward to reading the answers from potential mates. Examples include: What are your greatest life passions? Who would you say have been the most influential and inspiring teachers in your life? What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from past relationships?
Heads up: At first I didn't see a place to write about what I was looking for in a partner, other than one essay question. I later discovered that the “Intention Page” was for this purpose. Also: Be prepared to sort through a lot of options regarding who can see your profile when.
Signup fee: Basic membership is free. Premium membership, which allows you to initiate contact with another member, among other things, ranges from $19.95 for a single month to $6.60 a month for a pre-paid, year-long subscription.
Tagline: The Single Parent Network
Audience: Single moms and dads, and their admirers
Profile tidbits: No real creative questions or options to show your personality other than the three open-ended questions that ask you to describe yourself, what you’re looking for, and anything else you’d like to add. The question I did find interesting asks you to describe your looks; choices range from Average Looking to Stunning. Uh, isn’t that what the photo is for? It’s more like a question to reveal the extent of your vanity.
Heads up: A bit confusing to get signed on and going.
Signup fee: Free to sign up and search. $9.95 a month for six months; $119.95 for year, gets you unlimited ability to send/receive messages and top listing in search results.
Tagline: City folks just don’t get it!
Audience: Farmers, ranchers, ag students, all livestock owners, animal lovers, cowboys, cowgirls, rodeo fans and country wannabes
Profile tidbits: Nice thing about this profile is that the numerous questions with pull-down menu answers and the few open-ended questions made the experience of filling it out quick and less stressful. Interesting (to me, at least) was that two of the answer options for “What kind of relationship are you looking for?” were “Intimate” and “Casual encounters.” Those naughty farmers!
Cons: It felt like there were not enough questions or space to state what I was looking for in a guy (or farmer).
Signup fee: No idea. All I found on the site was a 3-day free trial membership — no info on what it will cost after that expires.
Tagline: Love long and prosper
Audience: Science fiction lovers, including but not limited to fans of Star Trek and Star Wars
Profile tidbits: By far the longest and most entertaining profile to fill out (and only one open-ended question!). Under hobbies, users can choose from Cosplay, Larp and Manga, among many others. I’m assuming Sci Fi fans would understand? And under Body Type, this site offers a lot of ways to say “could stand to lose a few,” including “Pleasantly Plump” and “Fat and Proud.”
Heads up: The profile is long; for some it may be almost as overwhelming as the prospect of a Trekkie trivia challenge on a first date.
Signup fee: Free, and it’s also a social networking site.
1. Keep emails short and conversation light before that first meeting, says Langburt. Remember you are dealing with a perfect stranger so les is more in the beginning.
2. Make the initial date short, like a coffee or a walk. If there is a spark, you can schedule a longer date. If not, you’re not stuck.
3. Be real and honest, says Hendricks.
4. Don’t tell the entire story of your life on the first date. “Don’t talk through that morning’s therapy session or reveal the details of your inheritance on the first date,” says Langburt. “Leave them wanting more.”
5. Don’t take rejection personally. “You simply cannot let a few unnoticed pokes or a series of bad first dates send you into a tailspin,” says Langburt. “Each date, good or bad, brings you one step closer to the person with whom you are meant to be.”