W e’ve all heard of match, OKCupid and Tinder. But where do you go if you’re looking for a very tall vegetarian who likes silent movies? As increasing numbers of us go online to find love – match alone now has 59 million users – our requirements are getting narrower. We need a way to sort through thousands of profiles and put aside the “time wasters”, says Bradley Mills of Tip Top Dating Services, which manages more than 100 niche dating sites including TallerSingles and ShorterSingles. “Otherwise you get bombarded with people you’re just not interested in.”
For those who are picky about hair colour, there’s Redheaddates or dateginger. Moustache-lovers are catered for by stachepassions – the site is even divided by style, including Walrus, Dali and Pencil. And while Uniformdating might sound like it caters to those with a fetish for helmets or tabards, it is in fact for people with busy lives: “When you have unsociable shift patterns, a demanding job, or you’re stationed overseas, finding love can be tricky,” the site acknowledges.
From Bristlr to TrekDating: we found love on a niche dating site
There are niche dating sites that cater to pretty much every passion you can imagine, including vampires, clowns and Disney lovers – yes, adult ones. There’s even a site for those who work in the death industry, Dead Meet, started by mortuary worker Carla Valentine. “I noticed people who did similar jobs gravitated towards each other,” Valentine says, “an embalmer was dating the mortuary manager, a mortuary technician was dating an undertaker. If you both do the same thing, there are no silences over dinner or shocked expressions when you describe how bad your day was. But sometimes you need to cast the net a bit further than your immediate working circle.”
So does it work? Can a passion for beards really form the foundations for lasting love? We tracked down five very particular couples to find out.
The beard lovers who met on Bristlr
Angela Petrovic, 20, music journalist I was a sceptic. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to meet someone online. But I love men with beards, so I thought, why not?
I’d been on the site for about three weeks before Connor messaged me. His message said, “Hey, you’re really pretty. So what do you do in life?” I thought that was adorable and he looked cute. We talked every day for two weeks on WhatsApp before we met. I wanted to see if it was as easy in person. We ended up meeting for drinks in London. It wasn’t awkward at all, it was like we already knew each other. I saw him again the next day. I had an extra ticket to see The Offspring and took him.
I went to Reading festival, and I missed him the entire time. He offered to pick me up on the Sunday morning. That was the day we had “the conversation”. He just came out and asked if I could be his, and I said, “Yes, of course.” Now we’ve been together for six months.
At first I lied to my mum – I told her that we met at a gig. We told her the truth a couple of months ago. She didn’t care, she absolutely loves him –and she isn’t easy to please at all. She just wanted to know what website it was, because she’s single. I was like, “Mum, I don’t think you’d want to use that site…”
Connor Jupp, 22, student I joined Bristlr a week before I started speaking to Angela. I saw the site advertised in a newspaper, and I thought it looked more interesting than Tinder, which seemed to attract people who wouldn’t be right for me. I’m quite a hairy bloke, and from experience, even though it’s fashionable to have a beard, I don’t think it’s what a lot of women find attractive. People laugh when we tell them how we met.