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Move over, Tinder: Three local dating apps are looking to sidestep swiping fatigue

Three Boston-based apps look to break the doom-swiping cycle
WATCH: Amidst widespread burnout and a lawsuit involving Tinder and Hinge, correspondent Esha Walia explains how singles are responding to their new options. (undefined)

For Sydney Scanlon, finding love online hasn’t been easy, despite her having all of the major dating apps like Hinge and Tinder for eight months. In fact, she’s found it nearly impossible to go on a real date, instead exchanging messages until the chats inevitably fizzle, before starting anew with someone else.

“I feel like I’m online shopping — for a human,” said Scanlon, 28, an interior designer who resides in Foxborough. “I’m adding these men to my cart, and then they stay in the [direct messages] and then it’s stupid small talk. I don’t want it anymore.”

Scanlon recently signed up for Lola, one of three relatively new dating apps with Boston ties aiming to offer users a new way of connecting with potential matches amid widespread fatigue with the major apps on the market.


In fact, 46 percent of people who have dated online said their experiences were somewhat, or very, negative, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center poll. And a recent class-action lawsuit against Match Group, which owns Hinge and Tinder, accused the company of making its services “addictive” and “game-like” to prod users to spend more money rather than helping them find love. Match Group told the Globe the lawsuit is “ridiculous and has zero merit.”

But it’s an open question whether the new apps will be able to compete with the major ones such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. And they’re coming into an industry that has struggled to convince users, especially younger daters in their 20s, to pay for premium subscriptions, affecting companies’ profitability.

In recent years, share prices for the two dominant dating-app companies, Bumble and Match Group, have plummeted. Together, the two have lost more than $40 billion in market value since 2021, The New York Times reported last week. They face a challenge in boosting their numbers of paid subscribers in part because Gen Z — now the main group using dating apps — is a smaller generation with less disposable income compared to Millennials, the Times reported.


Match Group declined to comment on its stock performance, but provided a January letter to shareholders reporting record-high profitability after raising its prices. Bumble did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Now, three new apps in the Boston area hope to disrupt the market. They are: Lola, which matches daters based on their schedules; Fourplay, which offers double dates; and PreVue, which showcases users’ short videos.

Emily Mozoki, left, accompanied her daughter Olivia Mozoki, right, and Katherine Connolly, center, at a launch party for the Lola dating app at Capo in South Boston. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

“They all three take really valuable insight from existing research,” said Kathryn Caduto, a Boston University professor who studies online dating. “I’ll give all three credit that there’s different needs they are trying to address.”

The idea for Lola came about after Paul English, who cofounded Kayak and Boston Venture Studio, connected on Bumble with his now-fiancee, Rachel Cohen, who previously worked in human resources. The couple started Lola, which asks users when they can go on dates, to match people based on availability and compatibility. It also gives users the chance to anonymously rate their date and receive feedback.

“I almost want us to be, like, the anti-dating-app dating app,” said Cohen. “I want to take all the negative things from dating apps and fix it and put it in ours. That’s really our goal.”


Lola is now available for download and plans to fully launch once it has about 5,000 users signed up with similar preferences, Cohen said, adding the app has more than half that number registered so far. The company plans to potentially generate revenue through a subscription model or options to pay for additional features; as of March, it has raised $1 million from the founders, English said, adding he and Cohen plan to seek venture capital funds.

At a Lola launch party in South Boston last month, Ashley Jannino, 35, of Tewksbury, arrived with hope. She had been on dating apps for two years trying to meet someone, but had come across some not-so-ideal matches — such as the guy who lied about being single, the one who gave her a tiny plastic baby, and another who “ghosted” her, showing interest and then vanishing, she said.

“What I’m hearing about Lola is that it kind of skips all of the small talk,” said Jannino, a radio producer. “After you go on a date, you can rate your match; I think that’s very important.”

Ashley Jannino at the launch party for Lola showing her profile on the app.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Another app operating in the Greater Boston area, Fourplay, seeks to set up two pairs of friends to go on double dates, say cofounders Julie Griggs and Danielle Dietzek. The app, which was launched in New York and then came to Boston last April, aims to cultivate both romantic relationships and friendships. To use the app, a user creates a shared profile with a friend and they match with other pairs of friends. If one person from each team sends a “like,” it’s considered a match.


“You have somebody else there to help break the ice and make it less serious,” said Griggs.

And, she added, it boosts authenticity: “You can’t pretend to be someone you’re not in front of your friend.”

Users can only swipe and find new matches every 12 hours, Griggs and Dietzek say, in order to combat endless swiping, which they called addictive behavior. Both cofounders have worked in health care — Griggs as a physician assistant and Dietzek as a registered nurse — and were concerned about safety.

“We use double dates as a way to promote a healthier lifestyle for singles in that it contributes to their social well-being and also their physical safety,” said Dietzek.

Fourplay has a waitlist of around 50,000 people and plans to expand beyond its current locations in Boston and New York. So far, the app has not brought in any revenue, the founders said, but they plan to add premium subscriptions, in-app purchases, and a business-to-business model to feature restaurants and bars as venues for dating and other activities. Fourplay declined to comment on how much it has raised from investors.

PreVue, a Boston and Washington, D.C.-based dating app requires users to create biographical videos up to 22 seconds long aimed at showing their true, authentic selves.

PreVue, which declined to comment on its fund-raising, is free to download and use, but has a paid subscription option that offers more matches per day. The app officially launched in Boston in February 2023 and currently has more than 3,600 active users in Boston and 7,000 active users total.



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“The app was kind of created to help with the swiping fatigue,” said founder Luke Grady. “We want individuals to make meaningful connections to meet their partner.”

Users are not allowed to alter their videos on PreVue, said Grady — which helps keep the app authentic and enables people to be vulnerable. And Grady says video content is where the future of dating apps lies.

Regardless of their differences, all three apps seek to eventually turn a profit — and help people find love.

“At the end of the day, [dating apps] definitely make it easier to meet people,” said Jannino. “It’s hard to meet people in person these days.”

Ashley Jannino of Tewksbury, center, at a launch party for the dating app Lola, at Capo in South Boston. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Esha Walia can be reached at esha.walia@globe.com.