As part of "It's Complicated," CNET's series about how tech is changing our relationships, we thought you might enjoy this story, originally published July 3, 2016.
Candice is really, really pretty. She has big, brown eyes; thick, dark hair that flows below her shoulders; cheekbones that could cut glass; and a curvaceous figure that has no trouble attracting guys.
Despite that, Candice joined dating site SeekingArrangement.com, where she and 4.5 million other "beautiful, successful people fuel mutually beneficial relationships," according to its website. Too subtle? Then consider its tagline: "12 girls for each guy...spoil them and they spoil you back."
Over the past three years, Candice, 26, has dated a real-estate developer, a venture capitalist and an attorney. They've covered her annual $40,000 tuition at Villanova University's school of law, taken her on trips and given her up to $5,000 for a monthly allowance.
She's not a call girl. She's just a woman whose rich boyfriends pay her expenses.
"The concept of a man taking care of a woman dates back to ancient times," says Candice, who asked us not to use her last name. "It's no different for a woman who's home taking care of the kids."
SeekingArrangement is not just another Match.com, Tinder or eHarmony, which serve up a one-size-fits-all approach to dating. Candice's site of choice specifically matches "generous sugar daddies" with "attractive sugar babies." It's just one example of online dating services geared to singles with specialized tastes.
Looking for someone to share meals sans gluten? Try GlutenFreeSingles.com. FurryMate.com pairs up folks who like to dress up as anthropomorphic animals. Star Trek fanatics looking to do the Vulcan mind-meld thing can search for true Trekkie love on TrekPassions.com. Creatures of the night can peruse Vampire Passions, Vampersonals or Date Vampires (tagline: "Fall into the Darkness"). The name FarmersOnly.com pretty much sums up who you'll find on the site. And TrumpSingles.com probably doesn't need any explanation.
No matter what turns you on, there's an online site somewhere out there catering to people like you. And why not, when the Internet has become the go-to dating spot. More than 90 percent of America's 54.3 million singles have tried online dating, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute. And 64 percent of all singles say finding someone with common interests is their top criterion in a partner.
What is it about the Internet and cats? Typing "cats" in YouTube gives you 13.2 million videos, ranging from cats being funny to cats being jerks to cats just being...cats.
That's why a dating site for cat lovers just made sense to Sonny Crane, who founded Purrsonals.com. "Cat owners are a bit more finicky," he says. "Do you want to meet someone who doesn't like cats? No."
But does finding a soul mate really depend on meeting someone who adores cats as much as you do? That depends on how deeply that common interest matters to you, says Aditi Paul, an assistant professor at Pace University, who studies online dating.
"If you're choosing someone based on something that's core to you, then by all means," she says. Such specialized dating sites "make the idea of revealing yourself to your partner a lot easier than on a generic website."
Be warned, though: The mutual enjoyment of, say, Star Trek, Nascar racing or Russian literature doesn't make that person your perfect mate. "There is actually not much evidence that [people with common interests] are happier with their partners," says Harry Reis, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester in New York.
Jaime, a 40-year-old graphic artist in Texas, is hoping to find someone who doesn't mind her spending 10 hours or so a week playing World of Warcraft. Her previous relationship ended because her partner resented the time she'd spend playing with friends. "It's like a bowling league," she says. "My guild, they're like my family."
She now belongs to LFGdating.com, co-founded by Casey Tebo four years ago when he realized there's a growing group of adults who love playing everything from Clash of Clans to Call of Duty. "We wanted to create a tasteful dating site for mature gamers," he says, referring to the over-18 set.
For her part, Jaime hopes her next boyfriend doesn't want her to participate in player-versus-player games. It brings out her ultracompetitive side. "It makes my blood boil," she says. "I turn into a cursing, cussing demon and it is unfortunate."
The rich are different...
Brandon Wade couldn't get the time of day from women, even with a degree from MIT and a lucrative job at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. He was shy and felt out of place on mainstream dating sites because, he believes, he doesn't look like a movie star.
"I think I'm a weak-looking guy," he says. "I don't have huge muscles."
So he decided to launch a service for guys who -- like him -- have money and are willing to be generous with it. Cue up SeekingArrangement.com. Candice says she enjoys being with the older, self-reliant men she typically meets there.
Silvia, a 30-year-old translator of Russian and Romanian living in Miami, says she joined rival SugarDaddie.com after ending a relationship over finances. "I'd rather be single than stressed out by that," she says. The site acts as a filter, removing financially unstable men from the dating pool.
So would she ever become a sugar momma? Silvia says no -- and neither would Candice.
"I can't see myself doing that," she says. "I'm so used to the role reversal, I don't think I would know where to start."
That's great for now, but if Candice ever changes her mind, there's CougarLife.com, the "dating site for younger hot men to meet sexy older professional women!"
Ian Sherr (@iansherr) manages CNET's cybersecurity, search, social and Silicon Valley news coverage -- and is always on the hunt for tech that makes life and work easier.
This story appears in the summer 2016 edition of CNET Magazine. For other magazine stories, click here.
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