All of these can make dating -- often an ego-shattering minefield for those in perfect health -- even trickier."On bigger dating sites the competition is tremendous," says Jim Houran, Ph D, a clinical psychologist and columnist for Online Dating Magazine.For that fee, members get a more personalized experience, as Date Able is more akin to an old-school matchmaking service.
In 2004, after years of brushing up against the harsh realities of the dating scene, Leftwich founded No Longer Lonely, a dating site that caters to the mentally ill."I thought to myself, 'There should be something like this out there,' and I was surprised to find there wasn't," says Leftwich."If you're mentally ill, it's kind of a hostile world out there.I thought by taking down that whole bugaboo of having an illness, making it all open with everyone knowing, it would facilitate things.(Access to the site's full features is available for per year.
That's substantially cheaper than sites like and e Harmony, which can cost upwards of per month.) "To me, that's pressure right there," says Robert Watson, the executive director of the nonprofit dating service Date Able.org, which caters primarily to those with physical and mild psychiatric handicaps.
Let's face it: How do you drop that bomb on a potential love interest? She considered a number of online dating venues, but she says asked too many questions on its enrollment form, e Harmony was too "religious," and My Space was too much of a "hookup zone." "I wanted to meet men with my same diagnosis so we wouldn't [need to] have 'the talk,' or fear of rejection and transmitting," she says.
"Most of us with this don't wish to spread it." Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the economic downturn, the billion-dollar online dating industry has been booming. While sites like and e Harmony don't discriminate, they also don't cater to people like Lana who are coping with sexually transmitted diseases, disabilities, or mental health conditions.
"But I probably knew everybody in my community and nobody I knew wanted to date me or vice versa.
Lynn lived 60 miles away, but we made it work." By pushing a "friends first" concept, which has been emulated in the communal blog and forum features of Prescription 4 Love, No Longer Lonely, and other illness-specific sites, Date Able members can get up to speed on the dating world in a familiar environment without the prying eyes of the Web.
Even in our post-Americans With Disabilities Act society, notes Watson, failing to mention that you're confined to a wheelchair or dealing with another type of handicap might bring a first date to an abrupt end after a courtesy "I'm sorry" drink.