The Scoop: About 1 in 5 American adults live with a mental illness, so the topic should be a normal and comfortable part of the conversation when meeting someone new. But mental health remains a stigmatized subject. That’s why Jim Leftwich developed No Longer Lonely, a dating site focused on singles with mental illness, to help ease the burden. Mental health isn’t always something that daters know how to talk about, and No Longer Lonely gives them a space to be who they are and know that other singles won’t judge them.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 20% of adults in the United States experienced some form of mental health issue in 2019. That included behavioral or emotional disorders and more common issues like anxiety, substance abuse, and bipolar disorder.
However, other researchers believe even more adults have mental health concerns, as 55% of counties in America do not have a practicing psychiatrist, according to NAMI. Even though mental health issues seem common, singles with a diagnosis — or symptoms — may still have a more challenging time on the dating scene.
Sharing their reality with a potential partner can be a significant challenge, but those who meet on No Longer Lonely don’t have to worry.
That’s because the dating site is designed for people who live with a mental illness. When singles connect with other members on the platform, they know they won’t be stigmatized or judged.
Mental health can be an essential element of compatibility between partners, but that doesn’t mean that both people in a relationship must have the same mental state. Each partner should have the tools to support the other no matter what they’re experiencing. That is why it’s important to discuss mental health issues early on in a relationship, especially if they can cause a change in mood or behavior.
“From personal experience, I knew how stressful dating could be with a mental illness. One is never sure how someone will respond when you tell them,” said Jim Leftwich, Founder and CEO of No Longer Lonely. “I thought that having a platform where that anxiety no longer existed would be quite welcome.”
Dating is hard enough, with the balance that’s required to accept and understand the other person. Add in mental illness, and it’s not surprising that singles can get scared. No Longer Lonely helps take away those fears for many daters in the U.S.
The Founder Understands the Challenges These Daters Face
Jim said he decided to create a platform for singles with mental illness after he experienced some difficult situations with dating. He discovered that not everyone he was interested in romantically was comfortable with his diagnosis.
With so many American adults living with mental health issues, talking about mental health would seem natural. More daters are comfortable sharing their mental health situations today, but it’s still stigmatized. No Longer Lonely makes it much easier because singles feel welcome to discuss that aspect of their lives.
No Longer Lonely is a mobile-friendly dating site that is fully functional on both Android and iPhone devices.
Jim said he wanted to end the stigma for singles through his passion project. He said the site’s creation and continuing work behind the scenes is “basically a one-man show.” He’s worked with freelancers on a few special features, but it has otherwise been a solo mission to connect like-minded people for love.
He also aims to bring in an equity partner to improve the site even further.
“There is also a sense of solidarity among those with mental illnesses. I see many tight social circles,” Jim said.” A lot of that is a response to the stigma, but it is also the comfort of surrounding yourself with people of shared experience.”
It Works Like a Traditional Dating Site
Jim said about 70% of No Longer Lonely users live in the United States. Another 20% live in the United Kingdom and 5% are from Australia. In all, singles from 50 countries are represented on the site.
More than half of the users are male, but Jim said he’s working to change that and encourage a more even split.
The site works much like popular mainstream dating platforms, but it doesn’t engage in practices that alienate users with mental illnesses. The biggest difference is that the platform doesn’t share the names of singles. Instead, users select a username and maintain their privacy. And they only share as much as they’re comfortable with.
“No Longer Lonely works like a traditional dating site where users create profiles and seek out and receive attention from other profiles,” he said.
It’s not an automatic sign-up process, though. Jim personally approves each new profile on the site. He said he takes pride in confirming the authenticity of profiles to help protect singles who use No Longer Lonely.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of scammers on the Internet,” he said.
Jim also recommends that users not share their phone numbers, social media handles, or email addresses with anyone until a level of trust develops over time.
That’s also good advice for anyone dating online, as reported losses from romance scams in 2020 have doubled from the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers lost an estimated record $304 million, with the average loss around $2,500.
No Longer Lonely: A Great Option for Friendship and Love
Once singles find someone on No Longer Lonely, they can form a deeper connection because one of the most complex conversations becomes more manageable. The platform takes away the anxiety of sharing information about mental health that can complicate a promising romance.
Jim said he often receives testimonials from singles who enjoy using the dating site.
“The site has spawned over 40 marriages that I know of,” he said. “One user told me they had gotten married and gave birth to a wonderful baby boy after having met on the site.”
That couple even sent him pictures — and the gratitude that he receives from singles who were once like him really hits home, he said. No Longer Lonely has been rewarding to create, and Jim said he enjoys hearing from users who love it, too.
Jim said he has big plans in store in the coming year and is about to sign a deal with a white-label hosting company. The niche dating site may look a little different, but its mission will remain the same. Jim said he is excited about the new changes and partnership opportunities. It will allow him peace of mind that the-day to-day operations of the site and the security of the platform are assured. This leaves him time to focus on marketing projects and establishing a personal brand.
By working with trusted mentors and new business partners, Jim hopes to create a more robust experience for daters. The behind-the-scenes work can sometimes feel overwhelming, but Jim said he continues to grow the site to support the community and normalize mental illness throughout the dating world.
“The feedback has made all the work feel worthwhile,” he said.