Doomsday dating sites: 'Don't face the future alone'

@CNNMoney March 29, 2012: 6:38 AM ET
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One Survivalist Singles member, Mtexplorer2, says "a woman wearing a backpack in her profile picture is an automatic 10."

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- For people who spend every day preparing for disaster -- whether it's a 2012 apocalypse, a nuclear meltdown, an economic collapse, a hurricane or a tsunami -- it can be hard to find a compatible partner.

Canning venison, shooting firearms, living off the grid and creating manure from human waste just aren't traditional interests many people look for when browsing mainstream dating sites like eHarmony or Match.com.

That's why a site called Survivalist Singles has entered the online dating scene, catering specifically to this niche community of "preppers," "survivalists" and "doomsdayers."

Survivalist Singles, which officially launched in 2010, boasts the slogan, "Don't face the future alone." Its ranks are growing -- quadrupling to about 1,640 members from around 400 at the end of 2010.

Members of the site range widely in their doomsday beliefs, said Andrea Burke, a 45-year-old middle school art teacher from Montana who took over the site from its previous owner last summer.

"Most will agree that something is brewing that may change life as we know it, whether it be a collapse of the economy, an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or other natural or government disaster," Burke said.

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The site is free for now, but Burke is planning to charge a $5 monthly membership fee so she can generate income from her project. She is considering using a slogan like, "Find love for less than the price of a box of bullets" to draw in paying members.

For female preppers interested in finding a man, the site is a dating goldmine. There are currently about two men for every woman on the site (which is a big disparity compared to a site like Match.com, where there's a roughly even split), and the average member is over 50.

The most popular book among members is James Wesley Rawles' "Patriots," about a group of Christians who must survive an economic meltdown that throws the country into complete chaos and leads to a second civil war. "SHTF" (When s*** hits the fan) and "TEOTWAWKI" (The end of the world as we know it) are common acronyms members include on their profiles, said Burke.

One user, who goes by the screenname Mtexplorer2 but preferred that his real name not be used, said he tried many mainstream dating sites but was always turned down by potential matches as soon as they found out he was a survivalist. Survivalist Singles lets him put everything out in the open, he said, and women only contact him if they have similar beliefs or appreciate his lifestyle.

"It's hard to connect with someone who doesn't have a similar mindset. You can't explain why your truck is packed like you're always ready for an expedition -- they don't get it," he said. "But when you meet another survivalist, you start talking about all this stuff and the women look at you like you have a million dollars in the bank."

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His profile lists many conventional hobbies and interests like hiking, camping and eating Mexican food. But it also mentions his "extensive background with firearms for defense and hunting." And that he has an alternative water source, likes to go to thrift stores to find gadgets that don't use electricity, and cans venison so he'll have meat "if the grid goes down and there are no freezers."

His idea of an attractive woman is someone who is physically fit and loves the outdoors. "I'm not looking for someone wearing a designer dress and purse -- I want someone who looks wholesome, and a woman wearing a backpack in her profile picture is an automatic 10," he said.

Because he lives in the mountains of Montana, distance has been a problem. He has met only one woman face-to-face out of more than 20 he has corresponded with on the site. After she visited him in Montana, they decided to just remain friends.

Distance is one of several issues cited by another member, Larissa Kama, 42, who goes by the screenname nwredhead. Kama has a "bug-out bag" full of gear near her front door in case disaster strikes, but she considers herself less "hardcore" than many of the men she has encountered on the site.

"I've come across a lot of freaks who live in a hole in the ground, who message me and say, 'Run, run to me -- I'm a mile underground in the middle of Nebraska," said Kama, who lives in Portland, Ore. "I don't want to hide down in a bunker for the rest of my life. I'm really okay with the outside world -- we're not facing any end-of-world scenario yet, so I want to live in this moment."

Some members, though, have already found love on the site. Nate Tammaro, whose screenname was Iron Ranger, found his soul mate, or "twin flame," only two days after joining Survivalist Singles. They live six hours away from each other so they have only met in person twice, but Tammaro plans to move to Missouri to be with her this summer.

"When we met, we immediately knew there was no one else for us -- it was the sentence-finishing type of love," said Tammaro. The relationship has changed his outlook on prepping: Tammaro now believes his calling is to help others find their way once the "end of the world as we know it" arrives. "I'm optimistic about the future now that I've found love," he said.

Others on the site aren't just looking for love. A 44-year-old female user with the screenname Arnold, for example, states on her profile that she is looking for a survival group in addition to a man. One skill she would bring to the table, she noted, is making "humanure." This involves converting human excrement into fertilizer -- which may be necessary in case a disaster strikes and there is no running water.

Aside from Survivalist Singles, several other dating sites are popping up for preppers. PrepperDating.com was started last year and has about 70 members. And Kwink.com, a site that lets singles join niche dating communities, like "health nuts" and "Jesus freaks" is also advertising a community for "doomsday preppers" and "doomsdayers."

"Spend your remaining days with someone that shares your instinct to prepare and survive the end of the world as we know it," Kwink's site says. "Don't use those generic dating sites that can't cater to your core trait. The Doomsday dating community is your place to connect, share and grow with similar people." To top of page

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