Welcome to 2015 aka the great online dating renaissance. No longer do people feel the need to visit bars, dog parks, or Whole Foods’ produce section to find Mr. or Mrs. Right. For so many, sorting through potential mates now happens in the palm of one’s hand or by the glow of the computer screen, but with an endless number of apps and websites to choose from, sometimes it’s best to focus on a niche segment of suitors. Of course it only seems natural that, much like people interested solely in magicians or farmers, there are multiple dating sites focused solely on guys with beards and those interested in said-guys.
Obviously bearded men and their seekers exist on the likes of Tinder, Grindr, and OKCupid already, but in today’s immediacy-obsessed culture, why not filter through the clutter and use a specific app to find the people you most lust for all in one place? Surprisingly though, even once you’ve elected to wade into this specific, scruffy digital network, you still have multiple options to choose from and that’s why we’re here to help. Welcome to the frontier of bearded online dating.
Following a model similar to Tinder, Bristlr is a simple app and website that allows you to find people near you who either have beards or are looking to meet people with beards. Although it seems obvious that a site like Bristlr would exist, it was actually born out of a much simpler idea. “Bristlr started as kind of a joke,” says Bristlr’s founder, John Kershaw. “I thought the idea of a service connecting those with beards to those who want to touch them was ridiculous and amusing, so I made a fake landing & signup page.” To Kershaw’s surprise though, demand was much higher than anticipated and after a few weeks of prototyping and development, Bristlr launched.
The mechanics of Bristlr are simple enough, however, they do differ from traditional apps and dating sites in a few ways. Instead of asking if you’re single or taken, or looking for men or women, Bristlr simply asks you if you have a beard. “Besides the beardy-ness, Bristlr has a very unique vibe,” says Kershaw. “Everyone gets the fact it’s more light-hearted, and being made by one guy who just loves talking to people.” Additionally, Bristlr also provides users with the option to rate the beards they see and then, much like Tinder, if two people like each other, they are then free to exchange messages.
Although Bristlr is still in its infancy (the site currently has a user-base just north of 35,000 people), Kershaw has big plans for Bristlr’s future, both involving the site’s role in beard culture, along with other beard-focused organizations. “In the future I’d love to see Bristlr start to work more with all the amazing small beard companies and communities out there,” says Kershaw. “If Bristlr can start to help us share these things around more, that’d be great.”
Born just a few weeks ago from requests made by beard-crazed fans, Lumbermatch was developed by Kevin Gillem after he started the twitter account @trulumbersexual to share beard-related products and beard appreciation photos. The rest, they say, is history. “It seemed to naturally evolve that most of my followers were women, who started asking where they could meet these bearded men,” says Gillem. “I asked if they’d like me to start a matchmaking service and after getting a good response, I started working right away to bring LumberMatch to life.
Although LumberMatch certainly comes off as an online destination for romance, more than anything Gillem wants LumberMatch to be a place for likeminded people to meet and celebrate the bearded lifestyle, regardless of their intentions. “Even though it’s branded as a dating site, I’ve given users the opportunity to create their own groups focused around the areas where they live, as well as their particular interests,” says Gillem. “I hope that the site’s users are able to not only find potential romantic matches, but also meet people who will become their lifelong friends.”
LumberMatch may only be a few weeks old, but according to Gillem, the site already has a user base stretching around the globe, with members in the US, Australia, Germany, England, Wales, Korea, Polynesia, and Canada. In terms of future plans, Gillem hopes that someday people will remember LumberMatch as the place where they met their best friends and/or their spouses, but until then, he’s happy to simply be associated with the trend his site takes its name from.
“Our site is called LumberMatch as homage to the lumbersexual trend,” says Gillem. “I feel that “lumbersexual” is a broad term encompassing everyone from the lumberjack out logging in the field with a bushy beard to keep him warm, all the way to the popular bearded Hipster with his vintage boots and quaffed hair. Basically, if you have a beard and are looking for someone who appreciates it, you have a home at LumberMatch.com.”
If you’re a fan of beards or a bearded man yourself, both Bristlr and LumberMatch offer the opportunity for you to connect with like minded people from as far away as the other side of the globe and as close as the opposite side of the room. Regardless of how you feel towards the concept of social networking and online dating, we can all agree that connections forged by beards are something we can all treasure and appreciate. So sign up, smile, and find yourself a beard or someone who wants to touch yours. Either way, beard on.