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A dating decade defined by apps, but what do the next ten years look like?

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Once upon a time when coupled up friends would encourage their single pals to ‘get swiping’ because such'n'such met on a dating site, such'n'such was the exception. Not anymore.

The rule is of course the dating app and with over 200 million people using digital dating services every month, is it any wonder?

Global Web Index report 45% of unmarried internet users aged 16-34 use online dating, so with a decade defined by apps, what is the future?

Paul Carrick-Brunson, host of Celebs Go Dating told me: “I think you’re going to see more meet ups more social activities more friendships happening.”

While Charly Lester founder of new app on the block Lumen said: “The big changes for dating involve Artificial Intelligence.”

In order to find out how we may move forward, it’s a good idea to look at where it all began.

How did we get here?

According to The Secret History of the Personal Column by HG Cocks the first personal ads were placed in the 17th century by eligible British bachelors searching for a wife.

Data from Huffington Post

Personal ads with their varying degrees of success remained the order of the day for decades to follow but by the 1960s Harvard students had birthed Operation Match – not to be confused with

Operation Match was created on a computer about the size of a car and according to Wired, started with a paper questionnaire where Harvard co-eds would describe themselves and their ideal dates. Seconds later the machine would print out 5 matches for the co-ed singletons for just $3.

The first dating site as we now know them was born in 1995 on the cusp of the internet revolution. By 2004 Match was the world’s largest dating site and entered the Guinness World Records with 29.6million unique visitors.

Who’s swiping on what?

The impressive numbers of Match in 2004 look modest when compared with the excess of 200 million people using digital dating services every month today.

A number of people making up those numbers will have signed up on a day now being labelled as Dating Sunday which this year fell on January 5th.

Dating apps say the first Sunday of the year is the busiest day of their calendar with a surge in activity likely the result of singletons putting resolutions into action and taking control of their love life.

While the small number of respondents to my Twitter poll had Hinge out in front, and a similar poll on Facebook favoured Bumble, research by Survey Monkey showed that 75% of young adults (18-24 years old) use Tinder with Bumble a distant second (31%).

The same survey suggests that adults between 25-34 years old begin to transition to (36%) and 58% of older adults (45-54 years old) embrace, more than doubling the percent who use Tinder.

Meeting people via digital dating services has now officially surpassed people meeting through mutual friends – so with these numbers, is there any chance of things slowing, and how will the landscape evolve?

What is the future of dating?

Disney, inmates, shorter people, just a few of the niche dating apps that currently exist.

The recently launched Lumen is described as a niche dating app, but by the aforementioned standards, it appears beautifully tailored, rather than niche.

Lumen founder and dating expert Charly Lester said: “Niche dating really came into its own at the end of last decade - it makes sense because if a particular feature, hobby or belief is a non-negotiable requirement for you in a partner, then you may as well start the search on an app where everyone ticks that box.

“It's funny because often Lumen is called a niche dating app but being over 50 isn't particularly niche! That said, women over 50 prefer to date in a space where they know the men their age are interested in someone their own age.”

The Future of Dating

While Ms Lester suggests the future of dating is Artificial Intelligence, the present is user verification.

Ms Lester said: “While we're currently the only dating app insisting 100% of our users verify themselves in this way, I think you'll start seeing other dating apps following suit - particularly those which target younger daters, as there are increasing legal calls to ensure that under 18s can't access dating apps and websites.

“Over the last few years we've seen a number of dating apps incorporating in real life aspects in different ways, and that's a trend I don't see stopping any time soon. Because for a dating app to really work, you need to create relationships, and to do that, people need to meet IRL.”

And it would seem that Paul Carrick-Brunson relationship guru, former host of Oprah Winfrey Network’s Love Town, now host of Channel 4’s Celeb’s Go Dating is in agreement.

PCB said: “As the last decade has been defined by dating apps, I believe the next decade is going to be defined by personal connections.

“It’s allowing people to understand that just having any social connection is of value, so I think you’re going to see more meet ups, more social activities, more friendships happening.”

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