Lets Say You Want to Date a Hog Farmer By J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN STEPHANIE BETIT first read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead and Ayn Rands essay collection The Virtue of Selfishness in 2004. The books changed her life, she said, turning her from a devout Christian into an atheist and a follower of objectivism, Rands philosophy of independence and rational self-interest. From then on, I was looking for a partner who shared my outlook on life, said Ms. Betit, a 28-year-old teacher working with autistic children in Walpole, N.H. Finding him proved a challenge. Last fall, she met someone while volunteering for the Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, but the affair was as ill-fated as the campaign itself. By winter she had all but given up on love. Then a friend told her about TheAtlasSphere.com, an online dating site for Rand fans. Ms. Betit posted a profile, which caught the attention of James Hancock, 30, the chief executive of a business software company in Orillia, Ontario. He sent her an e-mail message, and within a few days they graduated to talking on the phone. Three months later, they were engaged. *SNIP*The couple is among a growing number of people who have found love on dating sites that pair members based on a specific shared interest or background sites like HorseandCountrySingles.com, Nerdsatheart.com, DateMyPet.com, STDmatch.net (for singles with sexually transmitted diseases), MatureSinglesOnly.com (for people over 50) and Veggielove.com. *SNIP* In 2005, Jerry Miller, the owner of an agricultural advertising agency in Beachwood, Ohio, started a dating site for down-to-earth country types called FarmersOnly.com. A lot of farmers have dial-up modems, so thats something we took into account, Mr. Miller said. We wanted to make our site as user-friendly and quick as possible, because only a small percentage of our members have high-speed Internet access. I doubt that any other dating site ever had to think about that. He said FarmersOnly.com has attracted more than 90,000 members so far 50,000 in the last year alone. One months membership costs $15.95; a three-month membership goes for $29.95; and one year is $59.95. Mr. Miller said he knew of more than 65 marriages of people who met on the site. Sarah Edwards, 26, grew up on an Ohio horse farm surrounded by cornfields. She met her husband, Grant Edwards, 27, on FarmersOnly.com, when she was living in Columbus and tired of dating city boys who didnt understand her. A former boyfriend had once suggested that they could live in the suburbs and keep horses in the garage. I dated lots of guys who liked that I was passionate about showing and raising horses, in theory, Ms. Edwards said. But once they realized how much work goes into that lifestyle, theyd be totally turned off. The endpoint of any relationship would always come when Id think to myself, I dont see that guy cleaning out my stalls. When Ms. Edwards received an e-mail message from her future husband on FarmersOnly.com, she was wary. He didnt have a picture, which made me nervous, she said. There are some meaty farmers out there some big, corn-fed boys. That is not my thing. It turned out that he lived and worked on a large hog farm and didnt own a digital camera. Finally, he sent her a photograph from his cellphone. I was like, Oh, hey, hes actually cute, Ms. Edwards recalled with a laugh. The two now live on a hay farm, which they tend in addition to their day jobs, in Farmdale, Ohio. They grow 40 acres of hay 10 owned, 30 rented and raise horses, cows and chickens. *SNIP*Mr. Brooks said the most successful niche sites pair people by race, sexual orientation or religion. The 20 most popular dating sites this year as ranked by Hitwise include JDate (for Jewish singles), Christian Mingle and Christian Cafe, Manhunt (for gay men), Love From India, Black Christian People Meet, Amigos (for Latino singles), Asian People Meet, and Shaadi (for Indian singles). A few years ago, a company called Spark Networks was putting major funding into its general dating site, American Singles, Mr. Brooks said. But when executives saw that the Jewish market was huge and relatively untouched, they switched gears and ratcheted up JDate: Its now the most successful site in New York by far. Eric Umansky, 35, a Manhattan-based journalist, met Sara Pekow, his fiancée, on JDate, after unsuccessful efforts on eHarmony and Nerve.com, as well as out in the real world. He recalled one date with a woman he met on the subway. They werent much alike, he said. She was a conservative who had attended a Catholic college and worked in pharmaceutical sales. We had a great time, he said. But when I mentioned that a lesbian couple I knew were pregnant, she said, Oh, its great that they found each other, but I dont think its their right to have kids. That floored me. It drove home the point, he said, that he needed to find someone more like himself. I realized that I hadnt been honest with myself I wanted to marry a Jewish woman from a family like mine, Mr. Umansky said. We all like to think of ourselves as sophisticated and urbane, but when it comes down to it, when youre looking for a lifelong partner, you probably want some winnowing down. You probably want someone whos a lot like you.