Mainstream or Niche Dating Sites?

You’ve gotten the courage up to give online dating a try! Let’s pause for a second and all clap for you 🙂 Getting that courage up to take the plunge can be a challenge and so we’re always super excited when someone gets to that point. Now, you’re all ready to go, but you’re not sure what site to get started at…

You’ve found a few sites that you like, but you can’t decide between a mainstream online dating site that has people of all walks of life or a dedicated specialty niche dating site that has specifically the type of people you are looking for. Good news…this is a question that A LOT of people have, and we’re here to help you through it.

First, if you didn’t even know these specialty sites existed, you might want to check out our list of the best apps for dating (by category) to see what the fuss is all about. They’ve got sites for different religions, sites for different interests and hobbies, sites for different sexual preferences, and even sites for different ethnicities. If you can classify people by it, there is probably an online dating site out there somewhere for it.

So which is right for you? The answer is going to be personal and different for every one of you. It’s going to depend on what your end goal is and what you’re specifically looking for. To help you through making this decision, we’ve put together a list of things that we think are important for you to know. By thinking about these different things, you should be able to quickly figure out what type of online dating site is best for you.

Specialty Sites Are Going to be Smaller

The first thing that you need to be aware of is that every specialty dating site is going to be smaller regarding how many members they have. It’s inevitable that if you start restricting what types of people you are catering to, you’re going to limit the number of people that are interested. Does this mean that specialty sites are always going to be worse then? Aren’t fewer options worse?

Well, not really. You have to remember that a higher percentage of these fewer options are going to be in line with what you’re looking for. It’s possible that there are actually more qualified singles for you on the smaller niche site than there are on the mainstream sites even though they have more total members. What it’s going to come down to is our next point.

The Less Specific, the Less Important

It all depends on how specific of a criterion you are looking at.  The more specific something is, the more important it will be to go to a specialty site. The less specific and more popular something is, the more luck you may have at a mainstream site. For example, let’s say you are in love with people with red hair who are left-handed and live in trees. You are trying to decide between a mainstream dating site or peoplewithfireyhairwiwthlefthandslivingintrees.com. Don’t worry; that is not a real site in case you are curious.

In this situation, you’d 100% want to go to that specialty site because your criteria are so specific that anyone else that fits that mold will probably be making their way to a specialty site. If you’re interested in people that like to hunt, you can probably get away with going to a mainstream site and having just as much luck, if not more.

A real-world example of this might be someone looking to date online with other singles with STDs. You may struggle to have success at a mainstream site, but some of the top dating sites for singles with STDs may help. Because your criterion is so specific, you’re going to have much better success at a specialty niche site.

It All Depends on How Important the Factor is to You

In addition to how specific your criteria are, you also need to know how important it is to you. Is it something that you would just like or is it a deal breaker that you can’t live without? For example, do you just want someone who likes to hunt or are you refusing to date anyone that won’t go sit in a tree stand with you? If it’s just something you’d like and it’s not super important to you, you might have better luck at a mainstream site. People that go to specialty sites are usually pretty serious about whatever the specialty site is.

For example, if you go to Christian dating apps, you’re not going to find a lot of people who go to church once every couple of years. Most of them will be somewhat active members of their church.

The bottom line is the more important something is to you, the more you should look into specialty sites.

The Wrap Up

As you can see, both mainstream and niche sites serve their purposes. Depending on what you are looking for and what your end goal is, you may want to check out one or the other. What we recommend doing is if you are interested in a niche site, utilize their free trials. Take the time to look around and see what kinds of singles are on the site and see if they’re what you’re looking for or not even close.

Ultimately you’ll want to choose the dating site that has more options for what you’re looking for. It’s only going to take one special person to make you happy, but there’s nothing wrong with going somewhere that’s going to increase your chances of finding that person quicker.



Written By: Jason Lee

Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.

His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.