dating

I let a 'digital matchmaker' overhaul my dating profile. This is what I learnt.

Dating during a pandemic is a confusing time. Any last glimmers of hope around the idea that you might meet your person while shopping for oranges are pretty much dashed (for now, at least). 

Instead, we're awkwardly navigating through the socially distanced age where interested parties are likely to be met with a serve of side-eye and a raised mask if they enter your 1.5-metre radius.

With that considered, it's understandable that now more than ever before, digital dating options are the go-to avenue for singles looking for a new boo.

Watch: The Horoscopes virtual dating. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

According to an article by Business Insider Australia, Match Group (who owns apps like Tinder, Hinge, Match, and OkCupid) saw a 15 per cent increase in users between April and June.  

Sure, people have been limited in their options socially, but virtual date alternatives like video calls have skyrocketed in popularity in recent months.

Lucille McCart, associate director of PR and comms for Bumble, shared with me that "In Australia, we saw a 76 per cent increase in in-app video calls... and a 17 per cent increase in the volume of messages sent."

There's also been an apparent shift towards "genuine" connections over casual flings, shares Melissa Hobley, chief marketing officer at OkCupid. Recent data from the app shows that there's been "a 20% decrease in people looking for 'hook-ups' on OkCupid over the past few months".

From this, we can deduce that seemingly, more people are on the apps right now looking for l-o-v-e, not l-u-r-v-e (if you get my meaning). Unfortunately, however, hopping onto an app with wholesome intentions doesn't necessarily mean you'll be skipping off into the sunset right away.

This is where premium dating services come in. Spruiking added benefits like unlimited 'likes'; the ability to backtrack your left-swipe, or the option to see a list of interested suitors, most apps sell their paid memberships as a way to better your romantic odds. Then you've got exclusive apps that are designed solely around offering you a tailored digital dating experience (The League). And lastly, there is also the option of outsourcing your digital courting qualms to a matchmaking service. Kind of like Hitch, without the sexism.

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Being that we're moving through a time that is particularly unusual for singles, I thought I'd do a deep dive into these premium dating options and report back on just how helpful they are.

For this experiment, I invested in Bumble's premium service; I trialled the dating experience on The League app, and I was offered dating app guidance by Holly Bartter of Matchsmith.

Here's what I found: 

Bumble Boost has its perks.

McCart explained to me that the most significant advantage of Bumble’s paid services is that they "provide more ways to find quality matches, over quantity". This is made possible with features like unlimited preferences; allowing you to specify what kind of profiles you'd like to be shown. (Like those looking for a relationship, or non-smokers, or people who want kids.)

If you combine this feature with Bumble's Beeline – which allows you to see people who have swiped right on your profile - you're able to "save time" McCart said.

"You are just being shown users who are interested in you and who meet your dating preferences."

What the "Beeline" looks like. Image: Supplied 

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For me, this experience was kind of odd at first. Seeing a list of people who had swiped right on me felt unusual. I was like the Bachelorette, only with no helicopters and less sparkly outfits.

I did notice a drop in the number of profiles I was seeing – naturally. But I quite liked the sense of control I had, and knowing I was only swiping on people that met my standards (read: not conservative) removed some of the guesswork.  

The League feels elite, but I kind of loved it?

I definitely had my reservations about an app that you need to apply to get access to. How are people vetted? And on what grounds are they granted a profile?

With that said, I loved the set-up of this service. In the preferences section you can specify a little more than most apps and based off this you're given five profiles to consider every day at 5pm. No endless swiping. Just five people that assumedly match your list of specifications. And I've got to say, I've been pretty happy with the prospects. 

Similar to narrowing your search on Bumble Boost, this meant way fewer matches. But it also felt less mind-numbing, and a match became more exciting when it did come along. 

My "League" dating profile. Image: Supplied. 

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Getting the assistance of a digital Matchmaker was fascinating.

Holly Bartter of Matchsmith offers three levels to her service.

Level one is a profile brush up, which involves a review of your dating app bio and photos.

Level two includes dating app reviews as well as a look into your dating strategy. At this level, Bartter checks out who you're matching with and how you chat with them. She'll then assess if your moves match up with your wants. I.e. are you swiping on shirtless dudes with bios about big nights in Ios when you're looking for a life-partner? 

Finally, at level three, Bartter will take over your profile completely. Armed with clear insight into who you are and what you're after, she will spice up your profile, swipe on your behalf and bring you a selection of suitors to choose from. (Fancy!)

I was able to trial level one, and mate - was it an eye-opener. While there was nothing 'wrong' with my dating app profile, Bartter pointed out that everything in my bio was based on humour.

This, she said, was totally fine (of course) but shared that it doesn't really give an impression of who I am or what I'm after. 

Here's what my Bumble profile looked like before Bartter's feedback:

My bumble profile before. Image: Supplied. 
And here's how it looked after her tweaks:

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My bumble profile after. Image: Supplied. 

Of all three of the services I trialled, this was the most valuable to me. It gave me clear insight into where I was steering wrong and what I could change. Because in the end, you could be on the most incredible dating platform in the world, but if you're not presenting yourself authentically, you're not going to get what you want out of it.

Building a more genuine profile means "you end up meeting people that are more aligned with you," Bartter said. 

"They can read more about you from the profile, and they can engage with you more meaningfully."

On the other side of this experiment, I've learnt a few things. Firstly: Wow, do I hate ceaseless swiping. The curated approach is 1,000 times better, even if it takes longer to find matches. 

Next, if you're serious about finding a partner, my honest opinion is that no, you don't have to register for premium services. But there's certainly no harm in doing so – even just to test it out.

As Bartter told me, "I think it's kind of like any other goal in life". If it matters to you, and you're not currently seeing results, try a new approach. Your happiness is important, and there's no shame in going after it wholeheartedly. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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