Online dating is now a $2 billion business. Whether you’re looking for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now, there are plenty of dating websites and apps to find him. But what do you do if you’re looking for something a little more...specific?
For people with certain health conditions or concerns, it can be hard to meet new people on traditional sites like OkCupid and Tinder because they might worry about how soon to tell their potential partners about their diagnosis.
That’s just one of the many reasons Olivia Cantu and her mother, Kristen Fitzpatrick, started SpectrumSingles.com, a dating and social media site for people on the autism spectrum. People with autism may be worried about the perceived stigma surrounding their diagnosis or just the awkwardness of telling someone about it on a non-autistic dating site, Cantu told Buzzfeed News. “Do I tell them I’m autistic from the beginning? Will they still like me after they find out?”
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Both Cantu and Fitzpatrick are on the spectrum, and while there are already plenty of online communities for people with autism, the mother-daughter duo were disappointed to find that none of the website owners actually have the disorder. “We wanted to create a website that brought together people on the spectrum for dating and friendships, but also be able to differentiate people’s spectrum traits,” Cantu told BuzzFeed News.
On Spectrum Singles, users with similar attributes are matched based on a 184-question test the duo created called the Spectrum Compatibility Test. As people with the condition themselves, Cantu and Fitzgerald recognize how unique each person with autism is, and made sure the community reflected that.
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“For example, just because someone is on the spectrum, does not mean they have social anxiety,” Cantu said. “I myself and many other people on the spectrum are uncomfortable with physical affection. Most other dating sites do not include a question about this, but it can be very important.”
Turns out, Spectrum Singles isn't the only specialized dating site. Here are three more health-focused places to find your next coffee date.
It often seems like the only place to meet new people IRL (or have a first date) is at a bar. But there are tons of people who are uninterested in alcohol, or are working to stay sober following an addiction. The app Sober (Free, iTunes) brings those people together. Like Tinder, Sober is a location-based app where users can find similarly minded people around them and connect sans alcohol. Right now the app is only available in San Francisco, but the designers are working on expanding to more cities by the end of this year.
If you’re one of the many people suffering from a severe peanut allergy, you know how awkward it is to ask your date if they ate a PB&J before you indulge in a little PDA. Also: wouldn't it be nice to go out to dinner with someone who understands you really can't eat soy or gluten? Allergic Attraction takes the awkwardness (and risk factor!) out of it. Members can join groups based on their allergy (think shellfish, soy, wheat, and more) to find their perfect match.
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Some people with disabilities are looking for partners or friends who really understand the daily struggles (and triumphs) of being in a wheelchair or having another disability. Dating4Disabled is a free online community that answers that need. Users can create a profile and post in the public forums and send private messages to get to know one another.
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