A lonely girl longingly looks at her smartphone
Published by  
Jake Kozloski
September 7, 2023

Dating Apps Are Designed For You To Fail

Dating apps can pair couples for the long-term. So why do they choose not to?
Jake Kozloski is the Co-founder and CEO of Keeper. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Aliia.

In 5 years, will daters still be mired in an endless loop of swiping and mediocre dates? 

Today, most daters seek their life partner. They recognize that the value of this partner is orders of magnitude greater than a single date or one-night stand. 

Dating apps have the capability to pair couples for the long-term. So why do they overwhelmingly create short-term, unsatisfying relationships? Misaligned incentives are largely to blame, as dating apps profit from your dissatisfaction

But there is hope. Soon, high-quality matchmaking technology will be accessible and frictionless, enabling daters to find a higher-quality life partner than ever before. How do we know? We already built it

Misaligned Incentives: Dating Apps Don’t Want You To Succeed 

“Never, ever, think about something else when you should be thinking about the power of incentives.”
Charlie Munger

Dating apps aren’t paid to satisfy you. They’re paid by subscription and upcharges, so they’re designed to keep you “active”. Just like a slot machine, dating apps craft a series of near misses to engage your attention and siphon more money from you. This incentive structure has evolved dating apps into superficial swiping and dissatisfying dates when the apps could simply be finding you a partner.

Superficial Swiping 

How much information do you need to ensure lifelong alignment with a potential partner? Most people date for multiple years to ensure their partner is a proper fit. Dating apps, as the first line of connection, should provide a powerful first filter. Yet Hinge, the most relationship-focused offering for daters under 40 years old, only permits 5 pictures, three paragraphs of text, and around 15 multiple-choice answers. Space restrictions on other dating apps, like Tinder and Bumble, are even shorter

Job applicants would be appalled if headhunters matched them with companies through first impressions or superficial swiping, so why do we accept the superficiality of dating apps? 

In reality, these apps employ swiping with limited information not because it’s an effective way to find you a partner but because it’s an addictive action that makes you spend more time and money

Dissatisfying Dates 

Any dating app not explicitly for marriage eventually devolves into a hookup app. 

When seeking mates, humans have dual desires: short-term attraction and long-term compatibility. While long-term compatibility is overwhelmingly more valuable, short-term attraction can easily distract daters. 

Many daters intent on exclusively pursuing a long-term relationship are bogged down by appeals to their baser instincts. As you’re perusing hundreds of profiles, it’s a challenge to repeatedly ask, “am I interested in this person because I can imagine them as my life partner or because I find them physically attractive?” Then, even if you succeed in holding a high standard, there’s no guarantee that the other person swiping has too. This situation lacks transparency, so neither partner can be confident in the other’s intentions. 

The western cultural tradition is full of stories of daters leading on their counterparts when one seeks a long-term relationship and the other only wants a fling. Instead of overcoming our base instincts, apps simply enable this mismatch in a new medium

Dating app marketshare in the US

A Monopolistic Failure

“Our Match.com offering is for people over 40. We don’t have a serious offering for young people. Hinge is a 6/10.” -A Match Group executive who requested to remain anonymous. 

More than two-thirds of the online dating market – including over 20 brands like Tinder, Hinge, and The League – is owned by one company: Match Group. It’s no coincidence that these apps employ the same addictive approach. 

Previous internet dating apps, like 2000s OkCupid, amalgamated vast information to provide a high-quality experience. But after Match bought OkCupid, the company discontinued many of its deep-matching features in favor of more addictive traits. 

In the mid 1990s, Polaroid scuttled its offering for the digital camera because most of its profits came from selling film. Similarly, in the mid-2010s – according to Tinder’s VP of Product – Tinder nixed its computer vision technology for matching people with those they find maximally attractive because its addictive approach was more short-term profitable. 

When we asked one Tinder executive how he justifies the company’s current approach, he said, “Some small percentage of people who hook up will get into a relationship.” Instead of launching its new $500/month subscription that charges more for a still-misaligned experience, what if Tinder simply aligned its incentives with its customers’ long-term interests? 

Keeper: The Matchmaker Aligned with your Ideal Intentions

We founded Keeper because we believe that marriage delivers overwhelmingly more value than a short-term fling. We want to help you find your person, so we only get paid when you get married. 

Like any company, we aim to maximize revenue and minimize costs. But since our incentives align with yours, we only build tools to help you find your life partner. Here’s what that means: 

  1. High-fidelity matches. We intake all the information that’s important to you, including traits that dating apps ignore
  2. People interested in partnership. All our marketing is marriage-focused, and our onboarding experience weeds out those seeking the short term. 
  3. No wasting time. Our expert matchmakers and AI tools check every match for dealbreakers. We won’t waste your time with imperfect fits. 

Keeper isn’t for everyone. If you’re seeking casual connections or one-night stands, you should stick to the apps. But if you’re tired of dating’s drudgery, we’d love to help you find your fit. 

Making Marriages

One out of six Keeper first-dates have led to engagements. We’ve crafted an experience that some clients describe as “miraculous” and “surreal”. We’ve partnered all sorts of people, from successful startup founders to those just starting their career. We’ve helped introverts approach love interests and players find the one who makes them settle down. Whether you’re 18 or 80, we can help you find your perfect pair. Our pool is adding thousands of new people every month, and we’re incentivized to satisfy every customer as soon as possible. 

Whether you’re slowly searching or ready to pay for the privilege, if you’re seeking your life partner, join Keeper. 

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