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Can niche offerings and paid features make online dating less exhausting?

A woman checks her phone as passengers arrive at the Beijing Railway Station as the annual Spring Festival travel rush begins ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, in central Beijing
REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo
More matches, more swiping, but less love?
  • Karen Ho
By Karen Ho

Global finance and economics reporter


Talk to anyone who has tried online dating, and the complaints quickly come out. The hours of swiping each week. The repetitive photos of people fishing, on vacation, or in front of a mountain. The confusing biographies. The conversations that go nowhere or end abruptly. Gross comments and unwanted photos.

“It can feel really disheartening,” said Gavriella Gold, a human resources business partner in Seattle who has been on and off dating apps including Bumble, Tinder, and Coffee Meets Bagel since 2017. “Honestly, it’s like an extracurricular activity that takes a lot of time and investment.”

Even more people have encountered that kind of fatigue during the Covid-19 pandemic, since online dating was the only option for many singles to meet someone. But companies are fighting fatigue and increasing engagement through new features, specialized approaches, and methods that move users beyond hours of swiping.

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