“What makes you think your person is in your city?” Germany says. “If they’re a car ride away or a short plane ride away, it could work.”
The pandemic changed a lot of preconceived notions about factors like distance and geography. With remote work and flexible schedules, people can be less stringent about where and when to meet-and those who are seeking long-term relationships are interested in doing so safely, thoughtfully, and with value for their time. (All of these initiatives are free, though Germany offers matchmaking services apart from TikTok that start at $300.)
Of course, advertising yourself for a date or getting set up by “someone who knows someone” is not a new concept. And before Tinder and other apps made swiping through potential romances normal for millions of people, Missed Connections and Craigslist personal ads were a digital mainstay for finding a special someone. During the pandemic’s early lockdown days, Zoom matchmaking became trendy too.
But if you’re in the market to find a special person today, dating apps, by and large, are still the leading strategy. A Pew Research study released just a month before the pandemic shut down most of the world found that 30% of Americans had reported using one. For those aged 18 to 29, that number jumps to 48%, and for queer people it is even higher, at 55%. And while everyone likes to dunk on these apps, 20% of young and LGBT people have entered a long-term relationship with someone they met that way.
The millennials who revolutionized their use as a way to redefine relationships, sex, and marriage are now older and often seeking longer-term relationships that were often difficult to find even before.
For Sakallah’s generation and BHM Dating Services Gen Zers who are coming of age, dating apps are cheugy and boring. They itch for something different, and increasingly that means looking to old-school matchmaking delivered through modern technology.
Dating by design
It’s not just hip young users who are hungry for a slower-paced way of finding possible matches. Germany says that despite the fact that TikTok is most often associated with teens, her clients are mostly between 30 and 45. “Super-young people are actually rare,” she says. “Maybe that’s because they are still dating around. The people coming to me are frustrated with getting stuck in the cycle and want a real relationship.”
And maybe that’s exactly why dating apps don’t feel threatened and won’t disappear: because as miserable and discouraging as it may be, dating is efficient for people who want to hook up or pursue casual relationships, while matchmaking is far more serious and time-consuming by design. (“If you want a date tonight, you can on a dating app. You can’t with matchmaking,” Germany points out).
That doesn’t mean matchmaking is ultimately more successful. Sakallah says she knows of just a handful of people who have dated for longer than a few weeks, and Germany has had just a few couples stick. But both say interest is skyrocketing in their projects: Sakallah’s newsletter membership is north of 2,000, while Germany has a waiting list of 20,000 people.
And Morgan, the Twitter matchmaker whose thread continues to grow, sheepishly says she just made it official with someone she met on Bumble. “I know, I know!” she says, laughing. She’s continuing to monitor the thread in her free time but is enjoying her newfound love.
“I’m just so glad I don’t have to go on a dating app right now,” she says. “It’s really fucking great.”
Alexis Germany, a professional matchmaker, decided to try TikTok videos during the pandemic to showcase people and has found them immensely popular-particularly among people who don’t live in the same place.