By Alli Lee
Finding love isn’t always easy. Some of us are lucky and find love in high school. Others of us are introduced to friends of friends. Some of us find our soul mates at a bar. And some of us need the help of dating apps. And you know what, that is okay! Dating these days is hard, and finding love on dating apps can be challenging. It requires patience and perseverance to sift through all of your options. But from personal experience, and the experience of other fellow Tennesseans, it was worth it.
Before you can start swiping left or right, you first have to decide which dating app(s) you want to use. There are so many out there now with so many different features that make them unique it can be a little overwhelming. Trust me, I understand how stressful and difficult it can be to date online. I tried just about every dating app out there for over 2 years. I got to the point where it was almost addicting to keep swiping through profiles, wondering if there was a better match out there. That’s the problem with having too many choices. You start to think that there is always a better option. There is also the pressure to find love from family members or being the last single person in your friend group. And juggling different apps can become a full-time job. Overall, dating can be frustrating and leave you feeling hopeless. But don’t give up! We researched some of the top dating apps out there and gathered stories from couples in middle Tennessee to help encourage those still seeking their soul mates to hang in there and to curb the notion that dating apps don’t work.
The first company we looked into was Match. Match pioneered the dating category over twenty years ago in 1995 and redefined the way we meet and fall in love. According to Match, meeting through an app is the #1 way singles meet today. Over 80% of their members access Match through their mobile app and can experience Match in 8 languages, within twenty-five different countries.
Melanie and Seth Landis, who live just outside of Chattanooga, found love on Match. They were each skeptical of dating apps and the reputation of them being more about hookups than lasting relationships. And both being career-minded people felt they didn’t have time to meet people at bars. They needed something more convenient. After just three short days of being on Match, Melanie and Seth met in person for their first date! According to Match algorithms the couple was anticipated to be a 96% match. Their mutual respect for each other’s interests, cultural experiences and familial values were evident in the first moments of their first date. Though they had differing exposure to politics and religion, their willingness to talk about these issues early on was rooted in the process of Match having already broken the ice. Melanie noted “it’s so important to show who your really are in these profiles, for example, Seth loved that I included photos of myself at things like baseball games and concerts. It helped him see that my online description really matched my real-life personality.” On their first date in total they spent nine hours together, exploring the city, talking about life, music, politics and getting to know one another. Three years later, they’re recently and very happily married. Melanie has recently launched her own event planning company 1111 Planning & Events to help couples like them plan their day in reflection of their style and story. All of which would not be so without having taking that step to download a little app!
Another veteran in the dating industry is eharmony. While technology and the way people communicate has changed, eharmony’s mission has remained the same: to create meaningful connections which lead to long-term love. After thirty-five years practicing as a clinical psychologist and counseling thousands of couples, eharmony founder Dr. Neil Clark Warren came to believe there had to be a better way to put two people together for relationship success. From his vast experience, he found that the best relationships involved two highly compatible people. That theory was confirmed following intense scientific research, resulting in eharmony’s famed twenty-nine dimensions of compatibility, which fuel the algorithms behind their patented Compatibility Matching System®. Today, millions of people of all ages, ethnicities, national origins and religious and political beliefs have used eharmony to find long-term love.
Sarah and Nate Dilts are a couple of these millions of eharmony users to find their soul mate. It all began when Sarah and Nate were both pressured by their family to try meeting someone online after a few years of failed attempts at finding their match. Within the first few months of using the eharmony app, Sarah was so frustrated with the dating scene that she sat down with her family and literally pulled her profile up on the TV. After laughing through some poor matches and some interesting messages she had received, Sarah's sister suddenly said "hey, wait he's SO cute!" That was the first time she saw Nate. That same night, Sarah nervously liked Nate's profile and it wasn't long until Nate reached out and they were planning their first date. At the time, Nate was living in Nashville and Sarah was living in Atlanta, but they were determined to make it work! After a year of long-distance dating and seeing each other on the weekends, Sarah made the big decision to quit her job and move up to Nashville. What she didn't know on the day that she moved was that Nate had been planning a beautiful proposal for that same night! Three months later, they are happily married and starting their new lives together in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Plenty of Fish was founded in 2003. They offer a less prescriptive, low-pressure user experience where singles can be themselves and connect with other like-minded singles. Plenty of Fish is available in eleven languages and more than twenty countries worldwide.
Jason and Ashlee Campbell of Nolensville, TN met on Plenty of Fish. They both just went through a divorce and were looking to make new friends and see what was out there. Ashlee messaged Jason first, and he was quick to respond. They messaged for about a month before even talking on the phone. Finally, Ashlee called Jason one night on her way home from a birthday party. They set a date for that Thursday, and that night ended with a good night kiss. Jason even figured out where she worked and sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers the next day. However, Ashlee wasn’t ready for anything serious. She told him she just wanted to be friends. They continued to talk and decided to take a “friends” trip to the mountains, and that weekend everything changed. Ashlee realized maybe she was ready for a relationship and never looked back. They waited a few months to introduce their children to one another. And about a year later, Jason moved in with Ashlee. Jason finally proposed to Ashlee on August 11, 2020 and they had their dream wedding in their backyard on October 10, 2020.
OkCupid is a dating app that matches people on what matters to them, through thousands of in-app matching questions, which have been answered 450 million times in 2020, and more than 8 billion times since they launched in 2004. These questions cover everything from climate change to marriage equality to racial justice, along with all the dating and relationship questions you want to know about in a partner. Nearly 4 million matches are made each week on OkCupid.
Jill and Brian Sissom of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, met in November 2016 on OkCupid. Jill was having trouble finding meaningful relationships on dating apps until her best friend, Nicole, suggested she sign up for OkCupid. Nicole had met her husband on OkCupid a few years before and was happily married to the love of her life. With that success story Jill was convinced and gave OkCupid a try. Both Jill and Brian enjoyed OkCupid and answering all of the questions to find their perfect match. Jill said, “you answer questions about all sorts of topics and you can see how similar your views align.” She said, “the questions were really great because you could rate how impotent a question is to you, and how important it is for your partner to have a similar response. Jill and Brian were an 80% match. Brian and Jill had their first date at a local pizzeria in Murfreesboro called A’Harts. They bonded over how they felt it is important to spend time with family and friends. They enjoyed going on dates to different escape games and seeing the latest movies. On April 13, 2018, Jill was invited out to a girls night at A’Harts, but when she arrived Brian was down on one knee and ready to propose! Brian also invited all of their friends and family there to share in the engagement. Exactly one year later, on April 13, 2019, Jill and Brian said their I do’s and have been living their happily ever after since.
An app I’m sure everyone has heard about by now is Tinder. Tinder was introduced on a college campus in 2012 and is said to be the world’s most popular app for meeting new people. It has been downloaded more than 340 million times and is available in 190 countries and in over 40 languages. It’s great for not only forming meaningful connections, but also for meeting new people, expanding your network, and meeting locals when traveling. Tinder is simple and fun - use the Swipe Right™ feature to Like someone, and if someone likes you back, it's a Match! Just tap through the people you’re interested in meeting to spark something new.
Joe and Kelsey both used Tinder and Bumble off and on for 3 years before meeting each other. They dated a few people from the apps before swiping right on each other in February of 2017. After talking for several weeks through text messages, they met for a first date in person. The connection was immediate. They went on several dates in the coming weeks and both knew it was something special. Three months into dating, Kelsey’s twin brother passed away unexpectedly. The support and love Joe showed Kelsey during this time drew them closer, and ‘like’ grew into love. Traveling is one of the couple’s favorite things to do together. In the summer of 2019, they took a month-long trip through Europe. The trip ended with Joe proposing to Kelsey on a boat in Naxos, Greece. They got married on November 7, 2020, and are so thankful they both swiped right.
Bumble is another app you have probably heard of by now. It is a women-first social networking app that helps people make safe and empowering connections across dating (Bumble Date), friend-finding (Bumble BFF), and professional networking (Bumble Bizz). That’s right, you not only can find your forever match on Bumble, but also friends and professional business contacts! In fact, they are the first app of their kind to bring professional networking, friend-finding and dating to one platform. On Bumble, women always make the first move. The Founder and CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, saw a need to change the outdated norms of gender dynamics in dating. It didn’t make sense that after all of the incredible strides that women were making in society, women were still expected to wait for a man to ask them out, exchange phone numbers, or strike up a conversation. With this in mind, Whitney started Bumble as a dating app in 2014, where women make the first move.
Maggie had been using dating apps on and off for the past five years. She would meet a few people, not find anything promising and then swear apps off only to download them again. But in March 2019, Maggie made the first move and matched with Matt. After talking for a few days, they decided to meet in person on March 7. She almost cancelled after a long day at work (she works as a Group Sales Representative at Nashville Zoo), but decided why not go for at least one margarita. They met up and hit it off immediately. The conversation flowed, they were laughing and finally took the hint when the staff started to turn off the TVs - they closed the place down. They both knew early on this felt right and that they cared deeply for each other. It didn’t take them long to say “I love you.” On April 11, they were watching The Princess Bride, he turned to her and said “As You Wish.” She told him not to say that since it basically means “I love you” and he repeated those words to her and she said “I love you too.” On October 3, 2020 they became Mr. and Mrs. Gartner thanks to a quick swipe right and a short conversation on Bumble.
The last app we want to mention is Hinge. Hinge uses empathic design to end apathetic dating. It is designed for users to show they are serious about dating through in-depth profiles that allow them to showcase their personalities and utilizes technology that optimizes matches against users’ dating preferences. Moreover, Hinge's algorithm only introduces members to potential dates they can actually connect with, not an endless sea of options with no criteria for compatibility beyond geographic location. According to Hinge, it is the dating app for people who want to get off dating apps. They believe that in today’s digital world, singles are so busy matching that they are not actually connecting, in person or virtually, where it counts. Hinge is on a mission to change that, so they built an app that is designed to be deleted. Since relaunching in late 2016, Hinge has facilitated over 550 million matches and more than 22 million dates for members around the world.
Cassie had been on and off dating apps for three years. She was reluctant to sign up for Hinge after a friend suggested it to her, but she joined anyway and in May 2019 met Kenny. She enjoyed his profile and decided to reach out, even though he lived in Indiana and she lived in Tennessee. Their first official date was at Sperry’s in Franklin, Tennessee. They dated long distance for about two months until Kenny got a job offer and moved to Tennessee. He proposed in February 2020, and just a few months later they were married in October 2020. They honeymooned in California and are now starting their journey as husband and wife.
So, you see? Finding love on dating apps IS possible. The apps are constantly creating new updates and adapting to the times. This year, all of these apps we discussed released a video chat feature that allows singles to get to know each other safely and securely during social distancing restrictions due to Covid-19. And while some apps work better for others, don’t get discouraged. If you don’t like one app, just try another! It’s okay if it takes years, like it did for me and some of our other couples, to find love. It’s okay if you are the friend with an arsenal of entertaining dating stories that is constantly updating. Just be patient and don’t settle because your forever person is worth waiting for and could be just one swipe away.