An elite dating app makes you mind your manners
It’s the ultimate dating dream: a place filled with top-notch single people who don’t behave like assholes. One app thinks they’ve cracked the code by insisting on good manners, but is it really that easy?
Inner Circle wants to be your go-to place for finding decent human beings who you actually want to date. The app, which started in Amsterdam in 2012, promises a selective group of “smart, hot, ambitious professionals.” After spreading throughout Europe, they debuted in New York at the end of last year. They’re launching in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston this month.
Curation — or elitism, as some call it — is all the rage with dating apps right now. People who are sick of the endless swiping and massive numbers game thatTinder or Bumble offers are opting instead for a more selective experience. Raya (for celebrities and influencers), The League (for the well-heeled and ambitious), and Tinder’s own VIP room, Tinder Select, are just a few that are capitalizing on this trend. So what sets Inner Circle apart?
Mostly it’s their promise of accountability, which they say minimizes ghosting and the other bad behaviors that plague online dating. This isn’t a club for any old schlub. There’s a heavy vetting process.
Each member is personally reviewed before being approved. They look at your social media presence on at least three platforms, where they scrutinize any drunken profile pics, foul language, etc.
Once you’re in, they make heavy use of your network of connections, both personal and professional. They host events for members to meet in person (gasp!), and they also let you list your local hangouts (bars, restaurants, etc), travel plans, and events you’re attending to land on people who are frequenting the same places.
This is obviously meant to help find common interests, but it also serves to keep people on good behavior. As a company spokeswoman said in an email, “Bottom line: in a sea of ghosting and zombie-ing, it’s not looks, job title, or talents that mark you out as special, but manners.”
Their hope is that you’ll keep your act together because you don’t want to embarrass yourself or get a bad reputation with someone who’s knit into your IRL inner circle.
Most dating apps are constantly striving to keep shittiness to a minimum, of course. Coffee Meets Bagel recently introduced new accountability stats to encourage people not to ghost, for instance. The League has something similar. But Inner Circle does have a promising combination of a carefully selected membership and a set-up that encourages self-regulation.
On top of that, they’re aggressive about throwing out bad seeds. They told us two complaints about any user — which can include anything from “ dick pics to passive aggressive ‘woke male feminist’ badgering” — gets them automatically booted.
In theory, that leaves you with a controlled pool of elite daters who can behave themselves. That should help to minimize the need for ghosting, since that’s often born from the need to interact with an endless stream of potential mates in an efficient, if slightly ruthless, way.
So does all of this actually, you know, work? Maaaaybe. They’ve got more than 250,000 users worldwide, and they’ve had as many weddings as Bumble has (which boasts 13 million members). Overall, they’ve had a high proportion of users leave because they’ve found love, and that’s not too shabby.
Sound too good to be true? It very well could be. The downside to Inner Circle, and really any curated app, is that you have to get in in the first place. They say, for example, that they’re admitting only 1,000 users per week in LA right now.
So if you’re not one of the chosen few, it’s back to the big pond with all the ghosts and rude boys and weirdos for you. Harumph.