Online dating is its own big, scary jungle, and often users are left on their own when it comes to problems like ghosting or mixed signals in texts. Match thinks it can help users navigate that jungle -- by offering some human assistance. The online dating site is launching a new service, AskMatch, that will connect its paid users to a dating coach for a chat over the phone. The service is launching in New York City this month, with the goal of expanding nationwide by 2020.
"Match's mission has always been around relationships and bringing people together. We want to go beyond just being an app on your phone," said Match CEO Hesam Hosseini in an interview with Engadget. Match users will be able to find the option to "Talk to a coach" under the "Discover" area of the app. If selected, Match will connect you to one of its dating experts for a phone conversation. After the phone call, you can update your coach through the app with any progress you've made or ask further questions.
Offering real-life, human support is a strategic move for Match, which launched in 1995 as one of the earliest dating sites. As a new generation of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and Hinge took over, the old-school dating site managed to survive by launching its own app. Match is now owned by IAC's Match Group Inc., which also runs Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Hinge. While Match users have mostly outgrown Tinder and the swipe-based interface of other dating apps (64 percent of people on Match are Gen-X or Baby Boomers), they have no qualms about finding romance with an app. Currently, 80 percent of Match users have the smartphone app installed.
But unlike shopping for groceries or finding a dog walker, technology hasn't necessarily made dating easier for people. While it's true that online dating has connected us to more people, there are many that find the litany of options to be exhausting. More than half of women report feeling burned out by online dating, according to a Match survey from 2018.
Hosseini acknowledges that technology has its limits when it comes to dating. "Automation is great, but it's not for everything--especially when it comes to relationships and love," said Hosseini. While it's doubtful that dating coaches will solve the bigger problems with online dating fatigue -- chatting with a human person may help some users find clarity.