Published November 13, Updated April 29, With usernames that aren't particularly sexy - think Veganqueen and Positivelyidealist - and profile pics that would hardly qualify as arousing - a man struggling with a mud-lodged SUV in Sudan and another hunched over in a canoe in an East Indian bog - do-gooders are finding new ways of hooking up through a burgeoning crop of online dating sites. There are humanitarian aid workers, who exchange war stories, medical advice and impassioned blog posts on subjects such as China's oppressive regime on Humanitariandating.
There are raw foodists and animal-rights activists who connect on Planetearthsingles. And there are "vegan vixens" and "eco warriors" who "simply want to make a better world" - and flirt - on Ethicalsingles. Story continues below advertisement Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags billow on the homepage of Humanitariandating.
Much like Facebook, Humanitarian Dating includes photo albums, friend lists and privacy settings. But unlike Facebook, it is rife with thoughtful blog posts and profile pics of members carrying out humanitarian work - not posed, lecherous or drunk. He launched the not-for-profit site with his wife, Tamara Prinsenberg, in The two met during Doctors Without Borders briefings eight years ago in Amsterdam, where they now live together with their son, David.
Simpson says dating is a challenge for many aid workers because they are scattered around the world on contracts. Elijah Spencer, a year-old New Jersey man who is finishing his medical studies in Mexico after working there in free mobile clinics, has met two women, he says. But one lives in Mexico City and the other in Wisconsin.
Distance has made intimate connection difficult for Mr. Spencer, as for many NGO workers. Stern, 40, had more luck: She found her crush on the site five months ago, a man she had long "admired" for his reunification programs in Liberia.
Stern, who asked that her full name not be used, runs a gifted program for displaced children in Liberia: She was thrilled by the chance run-in with her peer online. Aside from a "spat" the two suffered last week after Ms. Stern refused to turn on her Skype camera during a late-night chat, the online relationship has been going on for several months. At the same time, you still fight about the same stupid things," she said.
Story continues below advertisement Story continues below advertisement But unlike a typical boyfriend who might complain about his day at the office, the men Ms. Stern meets on the site text her messages like, "What are the symptoms of meningitis? Stern says it is all part of the appeal. What I'm finding on Humanitariandating. And while it's a better match lifestyle-wise, it definitely results in more power struggles. They say the sites simply attract others with similar interests.
They have trouble going back into their own societies once they've finished working overseas for a while," Mr. Susie Bissell says that while people who "want to make a better world do not necessarily make better boyfriends or girlfriends, they are likely to be better suited to each other.
The site now has about members. Ethical Singles is built around an extremely detailed matchmaking search. Equally rigorous is Planetearthsingles. Launched by former Mount Shasta, Calif. To join, members must answer an essay question on their passions and beliefs; they are also encouraged to complete a compatibility test and a "sexual IQ" form. Asked if she feels environmentalists make better boyfriends and girlfriends, Ms. Crosby said, "Yes, definitely. How people conduct themselves in the world is a direct reflection on how they will behave in a relationship.
Crosby admits that meeting fellow environmentalists "can be a slight challenge. Luna, a volunteer co-ordinator for a grassroots therapy-dog program for cancer patients in San Diego, was captivated by his profile pic and the self-deprecating video he posted.
As well, his essay mentioned his love of hiking, biking and recycling. Luna e-mailed soon after. The two went on several dates and celebrated their six-month anniversary in October. Before Planet Earth Singles, Ms. Luna was trying her luck on Match. On one date, she cycled with a man who threw three plastic water bottles in the garbage cans they passed. Luna gently suggested he put them in his backpack for later recycling, the man said it was "too much of a pain.
Luna's friends were surprised to hear that she had found a husband on a niche dating site aimed at green souls. Luna said the ability to scout dates for their attitudes toward Smart Cars and composting on Planet Earth Singles was vital to finding her soulmate.
Now that she's found him, she's off the site but "grateful for it.