If you’re sighing at the idea of swiping through endless (and often lackluster) profiles on Tinder and Bumble, a new dating app called Crown wants to alleviate that “swipe fatigue” by presenting your matches in a March-Madness-style bracket.
Crown is a new project from Match Group, the company behind Match, Tinder, OK Cupid and many other dating sites. Every day at noon, users receive 16 different profiles, chosen by an algorithm. Users crown a winner by choosing between two people at a time, narrowing the 16 choices to four. But the possibility of romance can only begin if one of the quartet of matches also “crowns” you.
The app, still in beta, is available for iOS only and in selected cities (Crown launched in Los Angeles in June). A quick spin through the app in Chicago found a glitch in the location technology — matches are made with profiles hundreds of miles away. Match Group did not immediately respond to interview requests.
Crown has joined a slew of dating apps that advertise opportunities to find what you’re looking for — whether it’s the love of your life or a casual hookup. For singles navigating the dating world, the technology in apps like Crown can be both fabulous and overwhelming, says Fran Greene, a flirting, dating and relationship coach based in New York.
But is crowning a winner in an NCAA-esque bracket a healthy form of dating? It’s complicated.
“If love, dating and finding a companion was simple, there would not be so many sites to meet people,” Greene says, adding that an app like Crown could gain popularity on the premise that it can eliminate guesswork.
“With too many choices, people can develop swipe fatigue and shut down,” Greene says. “When someone or something takes control and limits your choices, you actually end up feeling more in control of the situation.”
Greene estimates that people in the dating world are spending 80 percent of their time online, and only 20 percent actually meeting people. She sees Crown as another technology that has the opportunity to increase the pool of people that you can meet.
“What has happened with technology is that we believe that we have to get to know people through text before wanting to invest time in that person,” Greene says. “But you risk building a false intimacy online or texting. It is not until you meet face-to-face that you can know.”
Chicago dating and relationship expert Anita A. Chlipala is much less optimistic about apps such as Crown. Dating apps, in general, perpetuate the “checklist” mentality, she says.
Many of Chlipala’s clients obsess over a list of often unrealistic, specific qualities they desire in a partner. She says apps have ruined dating for a lot of people, especially those who believe they will find the perfect person.
“Singles keep swiping, thinking maybe the next person will be the one without problems,” Chlipala says. “I even had a client tell me, ‘This woman might have nine things out of 10 that I’m looking for, but maybe the next one will have 10 out of 10.’ That’s the kind of mentality that either keeps people single, or keeps them unhappy and unsatisfied in the relationship that they’re in.”
More specifically, the format of Crown may convince users they have choices, but actually force them to choose between two profiles they are not interested in, Chlipala says. With limited space for a bio, Crown is based mostly on profile photos. Also, the app only allows users to match with either male- or female-identifying profiles, unlike Tinder and Bumble which has a “male and female” option.
“It’s up to singles to figure out what they want, not dating app developers,” Chlipala says.
Despite all the flaws with dating apps, the best possible outcome is meeting the “love of your life,” says Greene. But that requires meeting in person as soon as possible.
Though apps such as Crown advertise the ability to “optimize” your choices, they do not guarantee compatibility after you meet. Greene recommends singles join between one to three different dating sites: a mainstream site like Match.com, a niche site like Crown and a free site like Tinder. After an initial conversation establishing interest, you should set a time to meet with your match in person, ideally within five days.
Chlipala recommends creating a profile with clear pictures and a description of yourself that focuses on personality, rather than hobbies — because commonalities do not necessarily correlate with success in a relationship. Focusing on one method is not enough, Chlipala says, especially in a city like Chicago. She recommends meeting people outside of dating apps — at meetup groups, while volunteering, through friends, etc.
Though Crown seems to turn dating into a game, Greene says that is not inherently unhealthy. Using dating apps can be fun and playful if users do not take themselves too seriously.
“Dating in itself is not a game, and game-playing in any relationship is not healthy, but there is no obvious harm in the game of swiping through dating profiles,” says Greene.