Millennials are staying single longer than any other generation—which means more years of dating and looking for the one. They’ve got swipe fatigue, and these platforms want to help…
The dating lives of Millennials have gotten a bad rap over the years thanks to the common misconception that people their age don’t date, they’re just into hooking up. In actuality, we’ve found that to be pretty untrue. In our recent survey on dating and relationships, half of 18-36-year-olds told us they don’t agree with the old “only looking for hookups” narrative. In fact, close to three in four Millennials have been on an official date and a little more than seven in ten have been in a serious relationship. In other words: they are, in fact, dating though certainly not on the same timeline as previous generations. According to Pew data, only 30% of 25-34-year-olds in 1980 had never been married, compared to 54% in 2017, showing that there is truth in the narrative that Millennials are in no rush to settle down. But as we explored in our trend Extended Singledom, Millennials do still dream of finding “the one”—they’re just spending more time than ever before looking for that “one.”
Nearly three-quarters of Millennials tell us that marriage is the end goal of a serious relationship—and a serious relationship is what they want. For many, that search starts with digital. A quarter of 18-37-year-olds tell YPulse they’ve used a dating app, and more Millennials told us they’ve dated someone they met online, through an app, or on social media this year than did in 2018. The reasons they’re on the apps differs between men and women, however. For men, the top reason is “to see what’s out there” (59%) while for women, it’s “to find future significant other” (59%). Still, for both genders, digital dating has quickly become the norm. According to a survey from the online wedding brand Knot, the most common way people found their spouses was by swiping—or clicking, liking, or following.
As normalized and prevalent as digital dating may be, many Millennials are becoming decidedly less enthralled with this method of finding the one. YPulse’s research shows that 73% of young single people say that dating is more difficult now than it was in the past, and a poll from SurveyMonkey found that 56% of adults view dating apps in a negative light—which is true for both men (55%) and women (59%). It’s not hard to see why. According to the same survey, more than half of 18-24-year-olds see dating sites and apps as platforms for little more than casual hookups. But more than that, there seems to be a rising cultural consensus that online dating just doesn’t work anymore. Besides being places ruled by surface attraction and rampant with harassment, Millennials are just sick of the swipe. “It only has to work once, theoretically,” a 26-year-old woman who’s been using dating apps and sites on and off for six years told The Atlantic. “But on the other hand, Tinder just doesn’t feel efficient. I’m pretty frustrated and annoyed with it because it feels like you have to put in a lot of swiping to get like one good date.” In fact, a 2016 study of an unnamed dating app found that 49% of people who message a match never receive a response—and that’s if someone messages at all. Still other problems include the idea that swiping breeds a mentality of quantity over quality as well as a feeling of abundance—with so many choices, why settle or put in hard work when you could just hop back on the app and find someone new? All of this has led many Millennials to get a bad case of swipe fatigue—and they’re looking for a better way to find love. Here are three apps switching out the swipe to give Millennials more authentic ways to connect.
Formerly the Instagram account Personals, Lex is a dating and social app that aims to connect people who are “lesbian, bisexual, asexual, womxn, trans, genderqueer, intersex, two-spirit and non-binary.” To make that more clear: it’s not for cis men. Like Personals, Lex (short for Lexicon) revives the format old-school newspaper personals, or text-only descriptors of who you are and what you’re looking for, throwing aside the superficial nature of most dating apps, which rely heavily on swiping right or left on selfies. Instead, Lex takes a “slowed down” approach. “It’s bringing back the old-school way of reading personal ads, reading how people describe themselves, slowing down,” Lex’s founder Kell Rakowski told The Guardian. “It’s a gentler, more thoughtful way of getting to know someone.” The way it works is users’ ads are automatically uploaded onto the platform and allows users to filter by location and search for keywords. Ads can be liked and conversations begin from there, a system that seems to be working. “I was so used to the Tinder culture of nobody wanting to text back,” one user said. “All of the sudden I had hundreds of queers flooding my inbox trying to hang out.”
Hinge has been around for just about as long as Tinder, and though it’s stood out by connecting users to friends of friends instead of a pool of total strangers, it functioned much like the OG swiping app. But a few years ago, the company’s own research (and a 1.5-star rating in the app store) convinced CEO Justin McLeod that the app needed an update. According to the research, 81% of Hinge users had never found a long-term relationship on any swiping app, 54% percent of singles on Hinge reported feeling lonely after swiping on swiping apps, and only 1 in 500 swipes on Hinge resulted in phone numbers being exchanged. Over the next few years, the app has gone through some structural changes to address these apocalyptic stats—one of which was a total relaunch at thedatingapocalypse.com. The new Hinge ditched swiping and got more personal with in-app icebreakers and detailed profiles (which caused its user base to grow by 400% in 2017). More recently, Hinge rebranded itself as the only dating app “designed to be deleted.” The rebrand came with a new look as well as onboarding process, which guides users through setting up a profile, which requires that users not only include photos of themselves but also answer personal prompts. The process now features illustrations of people creatively getting rid of the app to get the we’re-here-to-help-you-not-be-here message across.
Facebook Dating launched in the U.S. in September with the intention of matching users with friends, friends of friends, or complete strangers. The add-on can be enabled by users over 18, who will be prompted to create a separate profile for their dating experience and to indicate whether they want to the site to play Cupid for them. The idea of the feature is to reduce the randomness of apps like Tinder by allowing users to find people they’re either second-degree connections to or, if they’d rather date outside their social circle, by suggesting matches for you based on your interests and Facebook activity. The feature appears as a new tab and is integrated throughout the platform so that, for instance, someone who’s going to the same event or in the same group as you could appear in your matches. When you’re interested in someone, you can send a “like” and a message. “We didn’t want to include anything around swiping or games,” product manager Nathan Sharp told The Verge. “Facebook Dating is about conversations.”