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Why apps like Tinder are getting dumped by some singles for lengthy date-me docs

Lakshmi Varanasi   

Why apps like Tinder are getting dumped by some singles for lengthy date-me docs
  • A small pool of people are turning to long online profiles called date-me docs to find love.
  • Fans of these romantic résumés include tech community members, those struggling with dating apps.

By day, Steve Krouse spends his time running Val Town, a platform he founded for writing, running and sharing code. But in his spare time, he acts as a sort of Tech Cupid — maintaining an online directory for long, freeform dating profiles known as date-me docs.

The Date Me Directory, which 29-year-old Krouse started in 2022, now contains almost 300 such documents from people around the world. They range from simple Google Docs to PowerPoint-style presentations to interactive web pages. They often include information about someone's age, profession, interests, values, and sexual orientation — as well as details about what they're looking for in a partner.

These relationship résumés are a far cry from the brief-at-best bios seen on dating apps like Hinge, Bumble, and Tinder — which many worry lead to only short-term relationships or hookups. In contrast, the Date Me Directory describes them as "long-form, earnest dating profiles for serious romantic partners." It's a trend that's gained traction in particular among parts of the tech community.

Date-me docs are "a place to be self-expressive without character count limits, in a context where people knowingly opt in to reading higher-effort profiles," Shreeda Segan, a 28-year-old content marketing manager whose doc has been on the directory since September 2022, told Business Insider.

And New York-based Krouse believes they're a good way to screen for long-term compatibility, saying you can learn more about a person from the get-go, possibly avoiding "falling in love with someone that you have too many fundamental differences with," he told BI.

'I was put off by the shallowness of the dating apps'

It's not exactly clear when and how date-me docs emerged as a trend. Krouse linked it to the effective altruism (EA) community, a philosophical and social movement that focuses on how to best allocate resources to help others. He's noticed that docs are particularly popular with AI alignment researchers, a group that's been thrust into the spotlight recently amid a larger ethical debate in Silicon Valley about AI development.

Drew Schorno, a 34-year-old UX design consultant, who posted his doc online in November 2020, claims to be the first to have created one.

"I was put off by the shallowness of the dating apps," Schorno, who's based in Canada but may move to San Francisco, told BI. "I wanted people to read my essays, listen to my music, watch my terrible TikToks, and get a sense of who I actually am as a person." He's not a "card-carrying" member of the EA community but has several friends who are part of it, he said.

But there's one major gripe for date-me doc users: it's still a small and decentralized pool. It's not clear exactly how many are writing them in the US, but the number is likely quite low, and there's no one main directory. Krouse built his by gathering publicly available docs he'd seen online, and uploading ones submitted. BI has counted at least three other directories.

Segan, who said she turned to date-me docs after struggling with dating apps, notes that they're generally not "sufficiently standardized" to be able to filter and search. They also need "many more people, from a more diverse set of backgrounds, to join."

And Schorno agrees. Though he's had a "few very sharp and interesting" prospective partners reach out, he said his own profile "hasn't been so terribly successful."

In contrast, the popular dating site Tinder has had over 530 million downloads since it launched in 2012, a spokesperson for the company told BI. And three in 10 U.S. adults say they've used a dating site, according to a 2022 study by Pew.

It takes guts to put your unfiltered self out there

While date-me docs are an emerging dating trend in the West, the practice may seem familiar to those of South Asian descent, who say the docs aren't unlike biodata — documents that have long been used to arrange marriages across the Indian subcontinent.

Biodata include details on a person's age, religion, education, profession, interests, and family background. Mumbai-based matchmaker Sima Taparia, seen on the popular Netflix series "Indian Matchmaking," uses the info as an initial screening tool for prospective matches.

Taparia did not disclose to BI how she prepares biodata for her clients or how much she charges. However, The Economic Times reported in 2022 that Taparia's matchmaking rates range from $1,300 to $8,000. Krouse does not earn an income from his directory.

But "date-me docs err on the side of more expressive" compared to biodata, said Segan, who describes herself as American but culturally Indian, and who lives in Austin, Texas. They're less standardized and restrictive, and tend to appeal to people like her who are "unconventionally attractive, weird, subcultural, highly specialized."

That more freeform element appears to be the major attraction for date-me doc writers: they're a way to present an unfiltered version of themselves in the hope that it might create connections. Still, it takes guts: It's almost "a little bit embarrassing to put yourself out there like that," Schorno said with a laugh.

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