Tired of swipes to the left, single people are turning to new dating services

Smartphone with many dating apps.

Yu Chun | Christopher Wong | С3studio | Getty Images

Swipe left to continue searching, easy. So swiping is the right thing to please someone.

But some people can swipe so much, especially when they have nothing to show. So more and more singles are choosing to trust the older source of dating: matchmakers.

Professional matchmakers have been around for decades and have become a part of our culture. Just look at the Matchmaker Millionaire show that ran for eight years, starting in 2008.

Unlike the app economy, traditional dating services often cost thousands of dollars, making them out of reach for the general population.

Many apps and companies are emerging looking to bring familiarity to the next generation, mixing old methods with modern technology.

One Newbie Locks Cluba members-only dating app founded in 2020 by CEO Austin Kevich.

Lox Club operates on a subscription model, charging $96 for 12 months. The company offers all its members access to matchmakers who can introduce users to each other or leave feedback on a person’s profile. Kevich said thousands of people have used the service, but did not elaborate.

“Professional matchmakers charge between $10,000 and $20,000 and are not as familiar with the challenges of dating apps as their counterparts,” Kevich wrote in an email, without providing details about Lox Club’s level of success. “I couldn’t afford it, no one on our team could afford it, so we knew we had to make it more accessible and rebrand it to feel like a friend helping you find dates.”

The company currently employs three matchmakers and we are hiring more.

Interest in matchmaking coincides with an increase in online dating burnout. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many summer residents being limited to online options. Companies have begun investing heavily in their audio and video features to enable users to meet from home.

But with pre-pandemic events reopening, not everyone is willing to rely on a watch to swipe their finger to find the date. Instead, they outsource this work to experts.

“I think people are looking for other options, and I’ve seen a lot more people talking and thinking about matchmaking,” Ali Jackson, a dating coach who has built a large Instagram following. @findingmrheighttold CNBC.

Lily Montasser, co-founder of New York-based speed dating startup Club Ambyrlet’s say otherwise.

“Everyone is just tired,” she said.

Ambyr, launched late last year, hosts two to three events a month at trendy locations across the city for a select group of 10 men and 10 women. Montasser and co-founder Victoria Van Ness screen and pair 20 people for the event depending on who they think would fit, although they sometimes add a wildcard.

Ambyr attracts a wider range of participants to participate in events. They were all interviewed and background checked. Applicants pay an entry fee of $60 and an additional $150 per event if selected. Ambyr says he has a 15% approval rate and around 200 members in his database.

Matchmakers also take on the role of part-time therapists with their clients.

“I didn’t realize how much trauma there was in the simple world of dating in today’s world,” Ari Axelrod, a 28-year-old New Yorker, told CNBC. Axelrod worked with Cassie Levin, who recently launched her own company called Learn inside.

Axelrod has gone on two dates so far, working with Levin.

“Even if the actual matchmaking didn’t go well, it makes me feel much more confident and confident in myself,” he said. “So a couple of hundred dollars to be reminded of something I didn’t even know I needed to be reminded of is worth it.”

Levine, who launched Inquire Within in April, currently charges $150 an hour.

Niche players aren’t the only ones behind this matchmaking resurgence.

Online dating giant Match group immersed himself in matchmaking through his app of the same name. In November, the company introduced human element of matchmaking to your dating service. For $4.99 per week, Match staff will tag two profiles per week to narrow down the options. Match did not respond to a request for comment on the feature’s success.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in the number of people looking for love on dating platforms such as Match Group’s Tinder app.

Beata Zavrzel | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Matchmaking, by definition, is often a tedious process that requires the work of expensive people rather than artificial intelligence. It’s not the main focus of big apps like Tinder and Hinge, which are owned by Match, or Bumble. The closest that Hinge offers is a feature of “outstanding” profiles, showing who is likely to interest a user based on their swipe history.

“While matchmaking requires a lot of hand moving parts, we see our members using it and asking for more,” said Lox Club’s Kevich. “At first we were surprised, but our members want this to exist, so we do it.”

Van Ness said there is a certain irony in the idea that “we’re kind of just trying to re-imagine that personal aspect.”

“We laugh because when the apps were first introduced, they were so foreign and everyone was like, ‘Wait, you want us to meet a potential partner from the app?’” she said. “And then when we started promoting Ambyr, people had exactly the same reaction. They said, “Wait, you want us to meet in person again like it’s so weird.”

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