"On bigger dating sites the competition is tremendous," says Jim Houran, PhD, a clinical psychologist and columnist for Online Dating Magazine. "And let's face it, depending on what [the illness] is, it could very well make you uncompetitive in the larger dating pool."
Over the past five years, several sites -- such as Prescription4love.com, Nolongerlonely.com, and Cisforcupid.com -- have launched to serve the needs of people with conditions ranging from bipolar disorder to Crohn's disease. Together these sites now boast tens of thousands of members.
In addition to providing their users with a more hospitable environment, these websites defuse the tension over how and when to disclose an illness, which is often an issue for people with diseases and disabilities who venture onto mainstream dating sites.
Niche sites are also a lot less expensive. Prescription 4 Love, which started charging in May 2009, is $9.95 per month, while most of the features on No Longer Lonely (including the dating service and chat rooms) are still free. (Access to the site's full features is available for $24 per year. That's substantially cheaper than sites like Match.com and eHarmony, which can cost upwards of $35 per month.)
No Longer Lonely (for the mentally ill)
STD-specific site Positivesingles.com.
DateAble.org (a $125 initiation fee for the first year and $25 every year thereafter. )
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If you know of other dating and/or penpal websites for the disabled, please let me know and we'll add them to the list.