Dating, but for a limited number of very progressive people, is generally not considered a team sport. It’s pretty much always a doubles match.
This is why on first glance Match Group’s recently released Ship seems like something of an oddity. As of 2019 and after decades of extensive training, most consumers know what it means to swipe right or left for themselves. Few, however, have considered having the people in their lives do it for them.
But in the era of social media, perhaps it is unsurprising that dating was the next thing to be socialized. The iOS dating app lets users sign in and offer input for their single friends looking to make a match on the site. That means they can swipe for their friends, chat about promising profiles and help strategize the entire first date experience. The launch is a dually-sponsored attempt — sponsored by digital love leviathan Match, and Betches, a female-oriented content shop behind a popular website, Instagram account and podcast.
The app encourages singles looking to mingle to construct a group — their romance braintrust if you will — of people who are allowed to swipe for them. The app will then allow for digital meetings of the mind where the worthy can be separated from the unworthy.
The app, according to an email from sources at Betches, is meant to help users incorporate their friends’ input and advice into their dating lives, not to help single people’s friends and family take over their dating life. As a result, there are some limits on how much direct action someone using the site as a helper agent instead of as a primary user can take.
The single user, for example, is the person who sets the preferences for their partners, and those preferences limit what the app will curate to them. Your mom may think you should look for love in all of the lower 48 states but if the single user has set a preference for only matches within 10 square miles of their location, that is all the app will show.
A friend swiping right on a potential match will send that profile to the group text for final evaluation by the single user — it will not reach out directly to the person the friend or family member has chosen. And, as is generally the case in the world of online data, only the two people actually interested in going out on a date can communicate directly about it through chat. The braintrust is always behind the user and never has any direct communication with a potential partner.
Match provided the technical side of the partnership, while Betches reports it was behind the branding, marketing and bigger idea. And, true to form, they announced it on their web platform with a rather catchy headline: “Dating Sucks.”
The announcement begins, “Our scroll fingers are tired. We’re v much over being assaulted on the daily by d*ck pics. We could write books full of sh*tty pick-up lines. I’ve gone on dates with a guy who claimed to be an art collector (he wasn’t); a very terrible graphic designer (why would you use a cow in a logo?); and a guy who told me on date three that he’d been in prison. Where was that on his profile??? Even if you shell out money on a #legit app, you’re paying for a fancy algorithm that thinks it knows you when, newsflash: it doesn’t. Face it: most of us are destined to sit with our phones and swipe forever.”
The Betches audience does not want to sit on their phones and swipe forever. And it is a large audience to the app — critical in the world on online dating.
Building an online dating app and getting it into the App Store is not a massive technological feat as of 2017. But getting people to actually download the app, use the app and trust the app to pair them with a romantic partner? That requires something of a trust relationship, and the average random digital dating app on the web doesn’t generally have a lot of trust front-loaded in.
Betches, on the other hand, has over 6 million Instagram followers, and says it serves about 3 million unique visitors on its site monthly. Match, with its vast array of other digital dating platforms (including Match, OkayCupid and Tinder), can serve up a pool of digital dating enthusiasts who might be game for trying out a new variation.