Stupid Cupid: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

My venture into the world of niche online dating has attracted the attention (or perhaps concern?) of my friends. To aid with my journey, my friend and colleague decided to introduce me to my next website — Bristlr.com.

Self-described as “The Social Beard Network,” Bristlr seems pretty tame in terms of highly specialized dating websites. I have to give a shout-out to my friend for sending this over — she probably did it in the interest of me having a better chance of finding someone more ‘normal.’ Thanks, Rachel!

Emblazoned on the website is the tagline “Connecting those with beards to those who want to stroke beards.” Sign me up, I guess? Never thought I’d be someone who wants to find beards to stroke, but I also never thought I’d be on the prowl for a sea captain or a farmer either.

Established in 2014, Bristlr’s layout is the most aesthetically pleasing and modern of the sites I’ve signed up for so far. There are neat little informational links at the top of the site that lead you to pages on the context of the site and how to use it.

According to the “Press” page, the creator of Bristlr is Manchester-based 28-year-old John Kershaw, a freelance software developer.

“I have a beard and I like beards. I spotted a gap in the market, and will do pretty much anything to procrastinate from work,” Kershaw wrote in the “About” page of the site.

Kershaw makes clear that this site isn’t meant to be used exclusively for the purpose of dating.

“We shifted the focus from hook-ups to a more light-hearted, warmer-in-winter kind of thing,” the site’s “About” page states. “Instead of expecting to go home with someone, we hope to have a nice chat and share a mutual admiration of a beard or two. We like beards. Beards are great.”

John Kershaw, I like your style and you seem like a cool dude. Let’s do this.

The sign-up process was a lot easier than the other sites, and niftier too — you can sign in using Facebook! John Kershaw, you’re down with the youths. The site is much like Tinder in the sense that they want to put people in contact with each other in terms of location and you are not allowed to message anyone unless you’ve both ‘liked’ each other.

There is also an option to rate a user’s beard, so you can take your pick from an assortment of facial hair..

For a recently-developed site, Bristlr is pretty fun and easy to use. The filters to find users are divided down to location and whether or not a person has a beard. Maybe there would be more options in the future to further narrow down users, but it seems hardly necessary for now when everyone has joined with the intention of bonding over facial hair.

It’s a little hard to actually start messaging users because you can’t see who has ‘liked’ you unless you refer friends to sign up for an account or give a little bit of money via PayPal, about $3.80, which isn’t bad at all considering FarmersOnly.com requested almost $11 a month for six months to be able to even message someone. Shape up or ship out, FamersOnly!

Happily, unlike the sad imitators trying to pass as masters of the sea, these users definitely have beards. Ranging from Tom-Hanks-in-“Cast Away” bushy to neatly trimmed to slight stubble, there’s something for everyone.  And if you’re into meeting those of the fairer, stubble-free sex, that’s an option too!

Bristlr’s easygoing attitude makes it a lot more fun to use than the other sites I’ve tried so far. Since it hasn’t been around for very long, the spambots have not yet latched on to leech on the site’s charm. Everyone is there with a light heart and the same intention to connect over a common factor — isn’t that a beautiful thing?

I’ve started conversations with a few users and it’s been casual so far. There’s no sexually or romantically-charged pressure that surrounds a general dating site, perhaps due largely in part to its kitschy nature and playful attitude.

John Kershaw, I tip my hat off to you. Bristlr is a well-developed site with the right kind of attitude, and I hope for its great prosperity and success as it grows in users.

Also, you seem fucking hilarious. Wanna get coffee sometime soon? I’ve always wanted to go to Manchester, and LA ain’t half bad either.