May 13, 2015

Tell me what you’re eating and I’ll tell you if I like you

Gluten intolerant, wine lover or foodie, online, singles are now able to find a partner who shares the same food habits as themselves. Gerard Neyrand, sociologist specialised in personal relationships, unravels this phenomenon.

amour_assietteA dating site for every type of interest ? Perhaps. After sites reserved for wealthy singles or animal lovers, some platforms are now making it possible to track down a partner who shares your diet. Hyper-specialised, these sites are part of the new wave of dating sites that target ever more specific profiles. Abroad, there are even some that are dedicated to lovers of the spicy sauce.

The sector’s most recent newcomer in France, Glut’aime endeavours to find love for people with gluten intolerances. The idea was founded on an observation. With pizza and beer off the menu, coeliacs (people with gluten intolerances) often dread first dates and are afraid of seeming difficult. ‘You have to talk about your intolerance straight away, it’s not easy. Long term, sharing the same diet makes daily coupledom easier. It’s an important criteria for some singles’, explains Glut’aime’s founder.

Far from gathering the 25,000 members counted by its American counterpart Gluten Free Singles, the French site, launched at the end of February, tallies about 220 members. Inconsequential? Gerard Neyrand, sociologist specialised in personal relationships, thinks otherwise. ‘With regard to the number of people with a gluten intolerance in France (500,000), the number of members is quite significant’. And it is only a start, the site’s founder announces: ‘Soon we’ll be organising gluten-free dinner parties for our members.’


An era of eating well

With a multiplication of food programmes, an explosion in kitchen utensil sales and media coverage of chefs, eating well is more than ever in the spirit of the times. Fans of good wine also have a site for meeting their soul mates: VineaLove, created in 2013, brings together 2500 singles. Wine tasting evenings are organised regularly in big cities in France as well as abroad. ‘They make it possible to socialise around taste. There is real conviviality, and members easily form ties around their passion. Incidentally, several couples have got together from these events’, enthuses Françoise Pauly, the wine professional behind the concept.

Following the trend, Attractive World and Meetic have set up cookery workshops for their members. ‘There are more and more participants and we are organising more and more classes and tastings in baking, wine and cheese’, reports Fanny Dhyser, press relations manager at Meetic. According to her, the benefits of these afterwork events are twofold: ‘Singles meet someone with the same interest as themselves, and learn to cook great dishes so they can then invite them round for diner.’

Sharing good times and making others happy: when it comes down to it, the idea is quite simple. ‘Today, our society promotes individual fulfillment’, Gerard Neyrand suggests, who sees this phenomena as a symptom of a hedonistic era. ‘The resurgence of the appeal of eating well relates to the valorisation of pleasure, while responding to the individual’s desire for well-being.’


The heights of homogamy

Homogamy (getting together with someone like ourselves) has always been around. For the sociologist, on the other hand, singles have never before had such specific selection criteria for their future partners. Gone are the traditional social criteria; on these sites, it’s now about looking to meet someone like us right down to what we put on our plates. ‘Diet is strongly underpinned by cultural position. If you don’t eat meat, that goes beyond a taste preference.’ Our food habits say a lot about our life philosophy: ‘So on these sites, you’re looking for someone who shares the same ethical values as your own.’

Despite everything, Gerard Neyrand voices a doubt. Visiting such specialised dating sites, singles may be tempted to withdraw towards a very limited group of people. Still, for him the risk remains minimal: ‘After all, you don’t fall in love with someone just because you’re eating the same thing.’

Text : Hélène Rocco
Illustration : Zoé Labatut

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