How the ‘elite Tinder’ will stack up in a city of underdogs
For anyone who has spent more than a couple weeks on a dating app hunting for an enduring, meaningful romance, the Philadelphia dating pool can start to feel extremely small. As a city often lauded by locals for having a small-town, neighborhood-centric feel within a big city, that benefit is a double-edged sword as faces quickly become familiar and the number of potential partners dwindles after every failed date.
That’s why it came as a bit of a surprise when The League – a members-only mobile dating app that sifts through applications to hand-select the best prospects based on education, career, and a handful of other discerning qualifications – announced it had chosen Philadelphia as its next location, joining San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and London as the next hotbed for successful, high-brow singles looking for partners of equal caliber.
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Philadelphia is the first of 10 cities getting the app this summer, which will give fancy people from places like Atlanta, Miami, Denver, and, yes, Philly, the chance to be decisive in their dating choices and create a nation of what The League markets as “power couples.”
As of this writing, 9,568 Philadelphians are registered for The League. Of those, 2,001 will join the ranks as the app’s “founding class” when it goes live, and everyone else will be left waiting in line for their turns.
Meet Amanda, the CEO who was tired of swiping left
Like in most major cities, the use of apps like Tinder among singles in Philadelphia is poised particularly toward the hook-up culture and fosters far more male users than women.
The prospects, koko app at least for women, don’t sound great either: A report from the New York Times in 2014 said women are likely to “swipe right” only 14 percent of the time – as opposed to 46 percent of men.
Perhaps unironically, it was right around the time Tinder released those stats and other discouraging data that Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of The League, put the wheels in motion for her own app.
After the end of a long-term relationship and some false starts using apps like Tinder and OkCupid, Bradford took matters into her own hands to find a date that had a good job, a good education, and who also wanted a partner just as successful in her own right.
“I created the app for selfish interests,” Bradford told PhillyVoice. The idea came to her in 2014 as she finished up her MBA from Stanford University.
“I was single, and it was during the Tinder revolution,” she said. “I had kind of always looked down on it; there was the stigma of online dating, and I kind of thought, ‘I don’t need online dating to date.’”
Nonetheless, as more of her friends and co-workers started adventuring into Tinder, Bradford followed. What she found wasn’t great, though. She wanted more information about potential matches before saying yes to dates; she also wanted to monitor her privacy so that coworkers and colleagues wouldn’t be stumbling upon her dating profile in the middle of a work presentation.
“I worked in finance, and I didn’t want all the finance bros to see me in, like, my Vegas party dress,” she said.
“It was very clear they didn’t want a partner. They were looking for a support system. It was really hard for me to know whether a guy was looking for me to plug into his life and be his support system, or if he wanted to combine forces and have a relationship of equals,” Bradford said.