THE BLOG
08/15/2013 03:47 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2013

The Dating Game -- Everybody's Clickin' It!

The big risk of dating when I was a teenager, was going on a blind date. It was scary, too. You'd hear the doorbell ring, and when you went to let him in, you never knew what you were going to find on the front step. Would he be cute? Would he make courteous conversation with your parents? Or would I wish I could just close the door?

And that was the easy part -- because the real test would come in the next three hours. Would we have anything in common? And, most important, would he make me laugh? If so, he'd definitely be a candidate for a second date. If not...taxi!

Today , blind dates aren't so blind. That's because the internet dominates the dating game, and all those things that singles are curious about in a potential date -- their interests, their passions, and, yes, their looks -- are available at the click of a mouse. Much better than that old face-to-face at your front door.

At first, internet dating sites carried a stigma; they were perceived as ground zero for socially awkward and desperately hopeless souls who could not find love in the "real world." All of that changed, however, as online technology became more sophisticated, and cupid-driven algorithms pushed matchmaking light years beyond the old "What's your sign?" formula.

The results have been astonishing: Today, online dating is a multi-billion-dollar industry, catering to more than 50 million singles a year. And according to statistics, one in five couples began their courtship on the internet.

But what's most interesting -- and wildly amusing -- is how customized the industry has become. As internet dating began to flourish, it gradually evolved into niche sites, like JDate for Jewish daters, GayCupid for gay couples and OurTime.com for the 50-plus crowd. But like every industry, niches develop niches of their own. And look how far they've come: Star Wars geeks can now find other Star War geeks. Likewise for vegetarians, bikers, book-lovers, mullet-wearers, vampire-wannabes and (wait for it...) clowns. The possibilities are endless.

For your viewing pleasure (and, possibly, your matrimonial prospects), we've gathered here some of the more outrageous dating sites on the web. Scroll through and take a look. And whatever you do, keep an open mind. You never know where you'll find love.

Niche Dating Websites