- Illustration by Elena Trapp
Online dating is making it easier than ever for lovelorn singles to find the person of their dreams, no matter how general or specific their tastes are.
According to a 2019 study by the Pew Research Center, about 30 percent of Americans say they’ve used an online dating site or application, which was up from 15 percent in 2016.
The dating website and app markets are also continuing to grow. As they do, the offerings are getting increasingly (and oftentimes oddly) specific.
There’s now dating sites for horse owners, marijuana smokers, book lovers, those who don’t eat gluten, people who wear their hair in mullets, and for practically every fetish imaginable.
There’s Ugly Schmucks — a dating site for “unattractive singles” who value personality over outer appearance — and beautifulpeople.com, where users wear their superficiality like a badge of honor and exclude those who don’t meet members’ standards of attractiveness.
Basically, whatever people are into, there’s a site or app that suits their needs.
Here are some of the most popular dating sites and apps out there, as well as some of the most niche.
Perhaps the best-known and most used dating application today, Tinder is a location-based app that allows users to swipe right or left to show their interest or lack thereof in a potential mate. If two users mutually show interest by swiping right on each others’ profiles, they can contact one another to chat.
As displayed in big, bold letters on its website, Grindr is “[t]he world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people.” When it began in 2009, Grindr generally targeted gay men, but later expanded to be more inclusive. It now accommodates users who identify as women (trans or cisgender), nonbinary, gender non-conforming and queer.
When it comes to its model for heterosexual dating, Bumble is basically the Sadie Hawkins Dance — only female users can make first contact with the men they match with. Doing so, according to the company’s website, shifts “old-fashioned power dynamics” to encourage equality. In same-sex matches, either user can make the first move.
One of the most well-known and longstanding niche dating websites, the platform was founded in 2005 to help single farmers, ranchers and other “country-minded folks with down-to-earth values” find love in their rural communities. Why? Because, as the site’s motto says: “City folks just don’t get it.”
A site for sugar daddies (and mommas) to be paired with “sugar babies.” As the name implies, the site is not geared toward intimate connection, but rather business-style arrangements where both parties benefit. According to the company website: “Sugar Babies enjoy a life of luxury by being pampered with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances. In turn, Sugar Daddies or Mommas find beautiful members to accompany them at all times.”
This free online dating and social networking site is for vampires and vampire lovers, though the occasional amateur vampire hunter may also be found on the site. And the specificity doesn’t end there. Users can browse vampire groups to differentiate between those interested in sanguine vampirism or psychic vampirism. And the best part? For vampire members, the site says it can them help locate others with a similar blood type preference, whether it’s “Type A, Type B, Type O, or even Bovine (for moral reasons).”