With scores of dating Web sites catering for the bold and the beautiful, a growing number of niche sites are emerging for less fortunate lonely hearts, those struggling with mental or physical problems.
Australian matchmaker Sara Fantauzzo came up with www.SpecialSomeone.com.au to link up people with special needs after watching her autistic brother struggle to make friendships.
"I’ve grown up with a brother with a very mild disability and I’ve seen him very low and very depressed as a direct result of rejections," Melbourne-based Fantauzzo, who set up the Web site with her husband Otis nearly a year ago, told Reuters.
"I got sick of seeing Marc at home on a Saturday night or having him come along with my friends because he never had anyone to go out himself."
Fantauzzo came up the idea of a Web site to match up people with special needs after noticing her brother joining a few community groups with people with different disabilities and these groups were far more accepting of a wide range of problems.
Similarly American Ricky Durham set up www.prescription4love.com, which matches people suffering from a list of health conditions, after realizing how difficult it was for his brother Keith who had Crohns Disease to meet someone.
"It was hard for him to disclose his disease to anyone, but it was really hard for him to tell someone he had a colostomy bag," Durham told Reuters.
"I thought if he met someone at a Web site where everyone had the same condition, there would be nothing to disclose."
His brother died in 2004, aged 41, as the Web site was being developed but Atlanta-based Durham pushed ahead.
The site launched two years ago and now has about 5,300 members from the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada and Israel suffering from more than 50 types of illnesses and disorders including multiple sclerosis, hepatitis, lupus, Tourette syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, and obesity.