The Aspie Guide to Online Dating Sites, Part Three
I have no experience with Spectrum Singles, nor do I know anyone who’s ever had an account.
I first heard about the site a year ago, from some news article. At the time I thought it sounded like an excellent idea, and that the people in charge seemed to know what they were doing.
Since then, I’ve completely forgotten every detail about the site except its name.
Like OKCupid, you can’t view people’s profiles without joining up. And aside from a blurb on the home page, there’s not much information about what it’s like to be a member. Like, how many members are there? Are they concentrated in one area (like the States, or Europe)? To what extent is it free?
In order to find all this out, you have to join.
Fortunately, the sign-up process is straightforward. You fill out some basic information:
-I am (your gender identity, with an impressive range of options)
-Looking for (your preferred gender identity, or identites- you can check off as many as you want- along with whether you’re looking for a friendship, relationship or both)
-Whether you’re only looking for an online relationship
-Whether you only want to be matched up with people who have posted a photo of themselves
As soon as you fill that out, you’re directed to a page asking for your
-Confirmation of e-mail address
After you fill that out, you’re directed to a page of questions. At the top of this page is the somewhat worrying assertion that “basic features are available for free members”- which was also stated on the site’s home page- without any indication of just what the hell that means.
Here are the questions you’re asked:
-I am (your gender identity, with an impressive range of options)
-I am (verbal or non-verbal)
-Looking for (your preferred gender identity; you can pick as many as you want)
-Looking for (friendship, relationship, or both)
-Confirmation of e-mail
-The age range of people you’d like to be matched with
-Confirmation that you’re at least 18
-Relationship status (again, you can pick more than one, because- if you’ve had an eventful life- it’s possible to be widowed, divorced, and single, and if you’re married, you’re definitely also in a relationship)
-Upload photo (mandatory, which seems to contradict the option to only see profiles of people who have uploaded photos)
More than the other two sites, it seems like Spectrum Dating is open to the possibility of its users finding friends instead of a romantic or sexual relationship. So, unlike the other two, I actually provided accurate information as well as a picture of myself. I’m signing up for real.
After filling out those questions, you’re directed to another page of questions.
-Your first name
-Religion (drop-down menu, many options, “other” being one of them)
-A few quick words about yourself
Defying the advice I have given you in the previous two blog entries, I wrote the few quick words about myself off the cuff with little thought. Do as I say, not as I do.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is what I wrote about myself:
“I’m a writer who primarily writes about disability issues and social justice. I actually found out about this site while doing research for a blog post I wrote about Asperger’s and dating sites.
While I’m already in a relationship, I figure I could stand to get out of the house more often and make some new friends, so here I am.
My special interests include movies, Star Trek, and politics.”
Following that, you have to take something called a Spectrum Compatibility Test, which is apparently an official thing, because it’s trademarked. Trademarked by who, I have no idea. The purpose of this test is to match people who are similarly autistic because- as I’m sure you know- autism is a hundred different things, some of which almost definitely shouldn’t belong to the same diagnostic category.
For each of the questions, you have to answer whether they almost always, frequently, rarely, or almost never apply to you.
There are several pages of questions; they go on for fucking ever. These are the questions from the first page, just to give you an idea:
-I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own
-I enjoy social chit-chat
-I tend to have very strong interests, which I get upset about if I can’t pursue
-I find myself more drawn to people than to things
-I would rather go to a library than a party
-I notice patterns in things all the time
-I tend to notice details that others do not
-I find social situations easy
-In a social group, I can hear several different people’s conversations at once
-I am fascinated by numbers
-I trip or bump into things
-Other people frequently tell me that what I’ve said was impolite, even though I think it is polite
-I usually notice car number plates or similar strings of information
-When I am reading a story, I find it difficult to work out the characters’ intentions
-I often notice small sounds when others do not
-I frequently get so strongly absorbed in one thing that I lose sight of other things
-If I try to imagine something, I find it very easy to create a picture in my mind (i.e. image, pattern, word, number)
-I find it hard to make new friends
-I prefer to do things the same way over and over again
-When I talk, it isn’t always easy for others to get a word in edgewise
After about a hundred years I finally managed to finish the questionnaire. They sent me an e-mail which informed me I was a blue, and that I could view other blue profiles.
There was no information about what the hell that meant.
A different e-mail contained registration information, which allowed me to verify my account.
The profiles on Spectrum Dating consist of the information you provide (apart from the information in the questionnaire), as well as areas for photo albums, events, friends, a blog, forum posts, and comments (comments can only be made by users who pay; the forum is also only accessible to users who pay).
On a separate page is the blurb I wrote about myself.
There’s a side bar called My Profile, with which you can access:
-and also edit your profile
-My photo (I assume that’s the main photo on your profile, as opposed to the other photos you’re permitted to post)
In order to figure out just what the fuck makes me a blue, I clicked on My Spectrum.
The My Spectrum page reveals what I suspected: users are ranked by how autistic they are, ranging from Yellow to Green to Blue to Purple. I assume Purples are the highest functioning.
I looked for matches from Toronto, and nothing came up. However, a few minutes later I discovered a button called “Neighbours” and clicked on it.
Boom: a ton of Canadians, as well as at least one Torontonian.
At this point I was exhausted, confused, and frustrated, and abandoned the site for four days.
When I returned, I was able to figure out what features you’re able to access for free. Very little, as it turns out.
The most significant bit of information I uncovered was that you’re not able to send messages to other users unless you’re a paid subscriber. As a result of that, the site is useless unless you’re paying for it.
I’ve had encounters with dating sites like this before, when I was single. They looked wonderful on the surface, though they refused to explain much about themselves. It was only after I signed up that I realized they were pay sites eager to separate desperate people from their money.
Spectrum Dating is especially loathsome in this regard due to its utter lack of transparency, as well as its targeting of socially disabled people, who are especially vulnerable.
Because there are other options available- really good options, too- I do not recommend using dating sites that you have to pay for. Forking over money to find dates isn’t necessary, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get the results you want.