Kristen Duffy, 30, an executive assistant from Brooklyn, N.Y., says she’s been using dating apps like Bumble and Hinge since January. She said she spends a combined $65.97 in membership fees and a little over an hour each day (up to seven hours a week) sifting through potential matches. In the past five months, however, she says she’s only been on three dates.
Most interactions play out like this one: On Monday night, a guy she matched with on Hinge suggested they text. They exchanged small talk for an hour, planning to meet up that Wednesday. They traded messages all day on Tuesday, but when it came time to confirm the date, the guy asked for a “rain check.” They never went out.
“It’s rare that I get to the small talk part,” Duffy told MarketWatch. In fact, she feels “lucky” if she gets a response from the “hey” greeting she typically sends her matches.
Millennials are going to need more than a cafe to save their dating lives. Bumble, the Austin, Texas-based dating app that lets women make the first move initiating conversation, said Monday it’s opening a coffee shop and wine bar for New York City daters to get off their phones and meet up in real life.
Dine, an app that launched in 2015, lets users match with people and their favorite restaurant and ask them out on the spot. Once a “Dine” request is accepted, users can confirm the time and day they’ll meet up at a bar or restaurant they can book through the app, skipping the time-consuming small talk that often leads nowhere on other apps.
And dating app Hinge has also tried to encourage users to get off their phones and mingle with fellow users in real life. In March, it hosted open bar events in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago to celebrate “National Day of Unplugging” by inviting members to put their phone away and meet potential matches in person.
The event was inspired by data revealing that 77% of Hinge members felt they should spend less time on their phones.
Hinge and Bumble are similar to Tinder and are both available on Apple and Android devices. Hinge uses connections to Facebook friends to match people and aims to target a younger user than OKCupid, eHarmony or Match.com (Android is an open operating system developed by Google )
One-third of people who have used online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met, according to data from the Pew Research Center. And just 5% of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship say they met their partner online, despite the wealth of apps available, suggesting perhaps that the majority of dates happen organically offline.
And despite the dating industry being worth an estimated $3 billion, there’s evidence that investing time in dating apps doesn’t always pay off. “Three thousand swipes, at two seconds per swipe, translates to a solid one hour and 40 minutes of swiping,” Casey Johnston wrote, an editor at TheOutline.com, wrote last year about Tinder. (Tinder told MarketWatch that each week, there are 1.5 million dates via the app).
Bumble’s cafe, dubbed Bumble Brew, is slated to open in the fall in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan. It will operate as a coffee shop and wine bar with small plates, and it was designed to be a comfortable setting for both dates and business networking.
The menu has been strategically curated to include foods that aren’t messy so guests don’t embarrass themselves on dates. Prices for dishes like farro salad with cheese and roasted vegetables or plates of prosciutto will range from $12 to $15.
While people may not be running there just to try the food, the cafe could provide a safe space for daters hesitant about meeting up with a stranger on a first date. Dating sites advise people to meet in a crowded, well-lit place and never meet someone on a secluded street or in a car.
(Last month, police in San Jose, Calif. arrested five people for allegedly staging a series of armed robberies, assaults and carjackings after connecting with men on the location-based dating app Tinder.)
See also: Millennials are humblebragging about their wealth to attract dates on Bumble and Tinder
Instead of going for coffee on a first date to Starbucks they will have to sit with the person while they finish their meal. Dating experts say that could be both expensive and painful, if the date doesn’t work out.
There are other potential pitfalls. “You might see the same people with whom your date didn’t work out when you go there to meet someone else,” said Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor emerita of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “This could provide a pretty strong disincentive as the space would no longer be ‘safe.'”
“The whole situation could become quite toxic if ‘jilted exes’ start to stalk the people with whom the dates didn’t go so well. The idea could theoretically be a good one, but it’s more likely that these negative consequences would doom it, if not immediately, then after a few weeks, if that.”
Bumble Brew will be the company’s sophomore endeavour in hospitality. In 2017 it launched Hive, a temporary space with food, drinks and talks that was geared more toward networking. To enter, guests needed to show a Bumble, Bumble BFF or Bumble Bizz profile at the door. Bumble Brew will feature networking events, date nights and female chef demos.
It’s unclear if you’ll need a profile to get in. (The company declined to comment.)
Still, there seems to be a disconnect between daters using the app and taking action. Other apps have found a market in the fatigue some users like Duffy experience from endless swiping with no results. Hinge implemented the “Your Turn” feature allowing users the option to invite (or nudge) a person to start a conversation.