These days it seems there are as many unique ways to meet people as there are hobbies and interests.
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We checked in with five sites that are helping users find love the way they want it. Sure, they may not be for everyone, but all’s fair in love and war.
Who it’s for: Spiritual, holistic singles
Founder Naini Nakagawa says that since launching five months ago, the site is big in the yoga and spiritual well-being community.
Why it’s cool: Matchmyspirt.com claims to be the only Web site that matches people according to spiritual gurus and spiritual paths. “By ‘spiritual path,’ we mean that people are matched according to their affinity for a certain type of spiritual teaching or teacher,” says Nakagawa.
The site also matches people based on introspective questions like: “How much time would you want to spend with your partner’s family?” and boldly recommends that users stay friends for six to eight months before beginning a romantic relationship.
Number of members: 2,000 today, 25,000 expected by the end of the year
Cost: Free for the first three months to communicate, and $7.99 per month after that
Who it’s for: Average age of users is 30, and more than 90% of them are college-educated metropolitan-area singles, according to founder Brian Schechter
The company originally launched in New York City and is growing to include Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. “It’s catching on with people who like finding new things,” says founder Schechter.
Why it’s cool: Instead of focusing on the individual, howaboutwe.com focuses on the date itself, forcing users to think about what they’d like to do before they think about who they might want to do it with. The idea, says Schechter, is that even if you don’t live happily ever after with your date, at least you’re both doing something you enjoy.
Instead of a dating site where people have to pitch themselves and say, “How about me, do I look good enough to you?,” Schechter says his site has flipped the script by asking, “How about you, what do you want to do?” The philosophy, he said, is “we,” rather than “me,” making for a more natural and fun dating process.
“Basically, we want to be the first dating site where people are psyched to tell people, ‘Oh yeah, we met on howaboutwe.com,’” says Schechter.
Number of members: More than 40,000 members to date, with 70,000 unique dates proposed
Cost: $28 for a month, or as little as $8 a month if you sign up for a year
Who it’s for: New York-based singles ages 21 to 55 who eat at any six “Just Salad” locations in Manhattan
As the name implies, the restaurant serves salad--just salad. Typically, users are busy professionals looking to meet someone interesting to chat with over lunch for a few minutes and see if there’s a spark.
Why it’s cool: Users are matched according to what ingredients they like in their salads, what type of dressing they like, and whether they get their salad “tossed,” or “chopped.” Time and place also factor into the decision, as users are encouraged to meet up at their local Just Salad to save time at lunch.
“The ideal algorithm is matching people with similar ingredient preferences and time,” said managing partner Nick Kenner. “The whole idea is that people are really busy in Manhattan and they want to meet new people in an environment that’s not a club or a bar. Lunch is the perfect solution, and this doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
The idea to spin off a dating site from the successful chain actually came from a New York Magazine article that cited Just Salad as a pickup scene in Manhattan.
“I thought, why not embrace it,” says Kenner. “People are always chatting in the store, and there’s always a good buzz.”
Number of members: 1,500, which is quite a few given that it’s spawned by a single restaurant chain
Cost: Completely free, unless you consider the cost of the salad you’ll buy on your date, which starts at $6.95
Who it’s for: Financially-established men (aged 30 to mid-50s) and women (aged 21 to 30) looking for the “security” a man’s finances can provide
Members are found worldwide, with concentrations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Paul Madison, CEO of SugarSugar, says he sees a lot of “upwardly mobile professional men who have a few bucks to spend,” and women who are “entrepreneurial.”
Why it’s cool: “With our site…we get the money question out of the way a lot quicker,” says Madison. “When you go on a date with someone there is always the question of ‘Does this guy have any security, any cash?’ But being on our site just puts that out there.”
Male members who are serious about letting ladies know the size of their bank account can send in their income tax records or a letter from their accountant and have their income verified by SugarSugar. Men can also call for a concierge service and have ladies screened to their specifications without having to look through the profiles on the site.
Number of members: Around 100,000—and the odds are better for single men: The ratio to male to female is 8 to 1
Cost: It’s free to create a profile, but to communicate with your matches costs $60 for three months.
Who it’s for: Don’t let the site’s name fool you--it’s not really just for farmers
Founder Jerry Miller says that while farmers make up a substantial portion of members, many FarmersOnly.com users can live anywhere as long as they possess “the good, old-fashioned values of America’s heartland, where people stop and jump your battery if you’re broken down, and hold the door open for you when you’re walking into a restaurant.” The age range is anywhere from 18 to 90.
Why it’s cool: Miller started the site after hearing many farmers comment how difficult it can be to meet someone when you’re working on a farm all day. He says the site works because couples know from the get-go that they’re starting out on “common ground.”
“So many dating sites cater to members in big cities, and I think those of us in rural areas really needed something like this,” he said.
Users to the site are treated with cute farm-themed graphics, including a giant sheep who implores users to fill out information on their “BAAAA-ck Ground.”
Number of members:150,000 and counting, with a ratio of 55% women to 45% men.
Miller says his members are serious--and more than 1,000 individuals (500 couples) have tied the knot after meeting on his site.
Cost: It’s free to “flirt” and let a match know you’re interested, but if you want to communicate with one another directly, it’s $15 per month or $45 for a year.