As the number of seemingly insular dating sites—from SeaCaptainDate.com (“find your first mate”) to BikerKiss.com (“two wheels, two hearts, one road”)—continues to climb, so does the number of interlopers. Though many of these dating sites neither encourage nor forbid trespassing, some have tacitly welcomed outsiders. JDate, for instance, has added new options to its profiles: “willing to convert,” and even “not willing to convert.”
Outsiders on sites such as Black People Meet are more conspicuous, but this hasn’t kept them away.
“I find African-American women take care of themselves, dress better and treat their men better,” said David Dargie, 58, a white store manager from Vermont who has a dating profile on Black People Meet. “I just find them more attractive. Some men like blondes, some like brunettes—I like black people.”
Stereotypes, such as the notion that a Jew will have strong family values or an Asian will be highly educated, are “very enduring” despite “tons of disconfirming evidence,” said Jennifer Lee, a sociology professor at the University of California-Irvine, who focuses on ethnic minorities, interracial marriage, and multiracial identity.
“Even a complimentary stereotype can be damaging,” Lee said. “It seems like it might be flattering, but what they’re doing is putting that person into a box and hoping that they conform to their image of what a Jewish person is, or what a black person is, based on preconceived notions.”
Members of minority groups often prefer to stick together. Though the proportion of interracial marriages, according to Pew Research, was at an all-time high in 2012—8.4 percent—that still means more than 90 percent of marriages are intra-racial. People may search for love within the community to preserve their culture or because it’s simply more comfortable to be with a partner of the same background. They may not take kindly to gatecrashers.
“Some people see my photo, and they send me a message saying, ‘Get the hell off this website. This is a black people website. What the hell are you doing on it? Blah blah blah,’” Dargie said. “I understand where they’re coming from.” But he’s not taking down his profile; in fact, he said he is “very busy” speaking to interested women from the site.
Internet user Jellyfrog48, a member of a dating site for single parents, was similarly perplexed when she received an email from a member of the site who has no children. Uncertain whether to respond to his entreaty, she sought advice from the Internet forum Babycentre.
“Weird?” she asked. “Or am I overly suspicious?”
Responses from fellow parents on the chatroom included the cautious (“Keep your guard up a bit”), the explanatory (“He may not be able to have children”), and the obvious (“Of course, this is the Internet”).
This kind of poaching has been happening at least since the beginning of JDate, the self-proclaimed “premier Jewish singles community online,” that launched more than 15 years ago.