Bridge, Virginia (USA)
- In a sign of the times, Buddhists now have their own online
dating site. Launched in February, DharmaDate, at www.dharmadate.net,
aims to bring together Buddhist laypeople from around the
for friendship, dating and marriage.
globalization of Buddhism combined with rapid growth in online
dating has created a demand for a way for practitioners to meet
online. Yet, so far, there has been no service dedicated just
want to meet other Buddhists, especially for serious relationships,”
DharmaDate co-founder Erik Curren said. “But in the West in
particular, where Buddhism is just taking root, finding others
can be a challenge.”
Buddhism’s growth in the West has been dramatic. It has become
the #4 religion in the USA with more than 2 million adherents.
Buddhism has shown similar growth throughout the Americas and
in Europe. Yet, many Western Buddhists may have limited access
to a local Dharma center and, as a result, they may meet few
other practitioners in their daily lives.
At the same time, online dating has moved from the last resort
of the computer savvy and socially awkward into the mainstream.
In 2003, Match.com, the largest dating site, had more than 9
million active members, almost 5% of the US population. Online
dating has already established itself in Europe as well, where
big sites have seen their membership increase by 10% or more
every month in many countries.
the mobility of singles today and the failure of traditional
ways to meet others, online dating has now emerged as the only
alternative for many to the “bar scene.” For those who want
to meet a Buddhist, online dating may be even more attractive.
are now thousands of online dating services serving all interests
and religions, with sites for followers of Christianity, Islam,
Hinduism and Judaism,” Curren said. “So why not a site for Buddhists?
We’ve had people from around the world tell us that they’ve
been waiting a long time for something like this.”
Curren co-founded DharmaDate with LB Shiu. After the two Buddhists
met at a Tibetan Buddhist center in Virginia, they bemoaned
the lack of options for Buddhists in the West to meet each other.
The pair decided to collaborate on a way to use the internet
to help bring Buddhists together. They came up with the concept
for DharmaDate and then provided financing for the service from
their personal funds.
format of DharmaDate is similar to other online dating sites,
but its approach is adapted to the needs and interests of Buddhists.
new member can join the site for free by posting a personal
ad with a photo. To create the ad, new members fill out an interactive
questionnaire that allows them to describe themselves and talk
about what kind of person they want to meet. In contrast to
the general questionnaires users will find on other services,
DharmaDate’s version was constructed to help Buddhist practitioners
express their core values and interests. Questions include “How
did you first get interested in Buddhism?” and “What teachers
have inspired you?”
to the site can also browse ads created by others to find someone
who matches their interests. During its launch period, the service
is offering various incentives to encourage new members to create
an ad on the site. As a service to the Buddhist community, the
site also offers free e-books and articles on all traditions
of Buddhism and on relationship issues. DharmaDate will also
donate a percentage of profits to support Buddhist groups.
just getting started and our membership has only begun to grow,”
said Curren. “We never expect to have millions of members like
the big general interest sites. Instead, we hope to offer those
with a serious interest in Buddhism a place to easily meet likeminded
was designed initially to meet the needs of Buddhist singles
living in the West. But its founders also hope that the service
will help bridge the gap between Asian and Western Buddhists.
And, people who are not single can use the site to meet new
friends, perhaps in a country they would like to visit.
dream is to see a strong online community of Buddhist laypeople
spanning the globe who can offer each other friendship, support
and encouragement to practice Dharma and live lives according
to Buddhist principles,” said Curren. “We hope that bringing
together Buddhists of different cultures and traditions for
new personal connections will support international understanding
while helping us all in our practice of wisdom and compassion.”
can be found at www.dharmadate.net.
Basic membership including a personal ad with photos is