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
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
"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."
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
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
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."