TreeShagger: Do all green dating sites suck?
The internet wants to help you find love. One in five newly committed couples met through a dating site, says Match.com [PDF] (and I’m sure they’re not biased). And Google ads recently volunteered to help me “meet yoga singles.” (Google, do I look like I do yoga? I’m barely flexible enough to sit in a chair.) What’s a green single with wifi to do? I decided to find out.
Sacrificing my dignity for your carnal pleasure, I joined five green dating sites under the name “sustainabanger” and exploited their free features in search of Seattle-area love. (Warning: If you’ve ever stabbed your eyes with a trident — the stabby thing, not the gum — that’s what looking at these sites feels like. Most were apparently designed by an 8-year-old with a Mac from 1992, back when animated GIFs were cool and a rotating smiley was the pinnacle of innovation.)
The gist: This one seems reputable, if a bit skewed toward 40-year-olds who like swimming with the dolphins. It’s free to join and browse, but paying $17 for a one-month membership means you can actually (gasp!) write your own messages to send to people.
The good: My profile was approved within an hour.
The bad: Non-paying members can only send one of 13 short, canned messages, like “I feel a nice connection with you after reading your profile.”
- A man holds a flower in his teeth in the header image.
- You have to specify your Chinese animal sign and Ayurvedic body type, as well as what you’re looking for, with options ranging from “tantric partner” to “celibate marriage.”
- The homepage warns against Africa-based scammers: “[S]ome of the most beautiful, open hearted people in the world live in Africa. Unfortunately, most of [our] Internet scams come from Africa.”
Verdict: There are only seven guys in Seattle between the ages of 25 and 35 whose profiles include a photo. Five users express interest in me, but only one is on the West Coast, a vegan ecologist/drummer who lives several hours away. At 36, he’s the youngest of the bunch (others range up to 60). He’s nerdy-cute, so I send him a canned message without much hope. I have no plans to pony up $17.
The gist: It’s “the largest matchmaking site for Democratic singles … founded by progressive activists, for progressive activists,” so while not explicitly green, users are likely to care about sustainability. It’s free to browse, reply to messages, and send a hug, kiss, or wink, and you can send two messages for free after signing up. After that, initiating contact via messages will cost you $10 a month.
The good: It boasts over 335,000 members, 27,000 in Washington state. Featured users seem younger and hotter than on other sites. And it gets points for being R-rated; one optional profile question is “Favorite on-screen sex scene?”.
The bad: This is not a pretty site. Who coded this, a pair of mittens? And the paywall is truly obnoxious — you can only see tiny thumbnail pics of users unless you upgrade.
The bizarre: I am “hotlisted” by a creepy exhibitionist Texan.
The verdict: I send 14 winks, two kisses, and one of my two free messages, and get a tentatively promising reply. Although this site boasts lots of members, I don’t feel optimistic since (yet again) I’d have to pay to message people.
The gist: The ugliest site by far, but it’s got the most personality, and it’s “100% free.”
The good: Green Passions takes “quirky” to a new level. Magician, ninja, pirate at heart, vampire, or werewolf? You can check a box for it. And you can do nine things to a user, including smooch, sniff, punch repeatedly, or pray for.
The bad: So many unsightly Google ads, I’d rather find love in a phone book.
The bizarre: One of the possible hobbies is “weather.” An extensive haircut section has over 30 options. (I select “undetectable toupee.”) A solar aficionado is looking for “A Goddess that longs for her animal beast to ravage her and share that tender smooth touch in the pale moon light.”
Verdict: I search for guys 25 to 35 in Seattle and get four results. Two have pictures. One has been on the site in the past three months: a 33-year-old with a snake. I “sniff” him. Hopefully he will know what that means.
The gist: Another site where non-paying members can only send brief, canned messages (one says “I like your profile, and would welcome further contact when you are divorced”). A three-month membership costs $24.
The good: Finally, one that doesn’t make my eyes bleed from its design. (Instead, this one does it with quotes like “Make every day earth day” and shit about Nature painting miracles in the sky.)
The bad: My search doesn’t turn up many potential matches, but there is a shirtless guy showing off his Chinese-symbol bicep tattoo. One of his interests: “i guess some people would call it squatting … Since i like to live off the land.”
The bizarre: “This site made with 100% recycled electrons!” chirps the bottom of each page. “No trees were destroyed and no animals were harmed.” Well, that‘s a relief, but how the heck do you recycle electrons?
Verdict: I find a cute, divorced 36-year-old who likes coffee ice cream for breakfast, Wes Anderson movies, and This American Life. Jackpot! I sent him a free prewritten message, allowing a tiny bubble of hope to gurgle up in my esophagus. Then he hides his profile and the world hears a teeny popping sound.
The gist: The site is less than two years old, and the pickings are slim. Non-paying members can send messages … but not to “premium” members who pay $5 a month. Confusingly, upgrading to premium is temporarily free, which means there’s a confusing, hard-to-navigate caste system.
The good: Less-ugly graphic design than the rest — illustrated green doves are about the only thing to mock here. Filling out my profile is fast, and it asks about my hard drug use and tattoos. I like it. “Are you a flamboyantly tattooed athletic PhD or an introspective vegan social drinker with three kids?” Nice.
The bad: It takes five days for my account to get approved, and there are only two guys between 25 and 35 in Washington state. I broaden the search to 23 to 38, and a “23 year old male firemonkey” is several hours away, but I can’t contact him because he’s a paid member. I try searching for 23- to 38-year-old guys in Oregon instead. There aren’t any.
The bizarre: A letter from the founder says, “[T]he incredible community of people that formed around [my creative arts collective] was the soil in which the EcoDater seed was sown.” (Too bad there isn’t very much, ah, EcoDater seed.)
Verdict: The graphic design got my hopes up, only to smash them down with no users.
The bottom line
The main problem with most of these green dating sites is pure lack of users. (Remember how lame Facebook was when you’d just joined and only had five friends? Yeah … welcome back.) Add some hideousness into the mix and I’m not super-compelled to return. While I still have a puny shard of hope that I’ll hear from the Planet Earth guy, and Act for Love wasn’t totally a bust, overall I’m underwhelmed.
A bigger site like OkCupid is probably a better bet — more people, simple to use, easy on the eyes — and totally free. You can always wax passionate about bike lanes in your profile and attract like-minded lovahs that way.
As for me, I’ll be sticking to Sea Captain Date. Hopefully love will wash onto my deck there …
Tell us in the comments: Would you try a green or vegetarian dating site? Or have you already?