TikTok is inundated with videos of people saying they're leaving dating apps like Hinge and Raya.
One woman theorized that Hinge has gone downhill because it's become difficult to find good matches.
Users are encouraging one another to try to find dates IRL.
A flood of TikTokers say they're deleting dating apps like Hinge and Raya after having bad experiences. Last week, a woman said her date left her stranded at a restaurant after she used the bathroom.
Other TikTokers have gone viral with theories about why dating apps have gone downhill, like oversaturation and companies prioritizing user growth.
In Bianca Stelian's video from last week, she said, "Dating apps have never been worse than they are now" because so many people are on them that the quality of matches has plummeted.
The 26-year-old used Hinge as an example, saying in 2018, the app presented her with a group of men who were exactly her type. But these days, the app puts the most desirable people behind a paywall, or its "Standouts" system, which encourages users to buy roses to match with those people. But she argued that even the rose system is flawed because, instead of being flattered, receiving a rose can reek of desperation.
"It doesn't actually want to be the app that you delete; that's a horrible business strategy," Stelian said in the clip, referencing the app's slogan. Her video has received nearly a million views.
"It's going to make it a lot more difficult for you to get off the app," she added.
Stelian said the gradual decline of dating apps is to be expected and cyclical, citing the way Tinder initially had a positive reputation until it became associated with people searching for "booty calls." She said Bumble, an app where women messaged matches first, emerged as a better alternative to Tinder, until it too became overrun with users solely trying to hook up.
Since Hinge became difficult to find good matches on, Stelian said there hasn't been another mainstream dating app that curates good potential life partners for users.
Stelian told Business Insider that she came up with the hypothesis after hearing more and more friends complain about Hinge being "terrible" over the past year. She decided to make the video after sharing her theory with friends and seeing it resonate with them. (In the viral video, she said she was "lucky" to meet her current boyfriend on Hinge early in 2023 before the app "got really bad.")
"I started thinking about how I'd previously experienced Bumble go from higher quality to bad … that no app has stood the test of time without being oversaturated," Stelian told BI.
The comments are rife with people agreeing.
One user said that using Hinge "feels like homework," while another person said the app used to be "amazing" and is now "scary." Several commenters say the paywall features on apps are "unsettling" overall.
"I'm screaming this is literally my experience to a T," a user commented.
When reached, a spokesperson for Hinge told BI that "every feature on Hinge is designed to get daters off the app and out on great dates." According to the company, Hinge sets up dates every two seconds, and roses are twice as likely to lead to a date (adding that users also receive a free rose every week).
Stelian's theory is somewhat redolent of journalist Cory Doctorow's 2023 concept of "enshittificaiton," or platform decay, in which apps or services gradually worsen in quality as companies chase profits. One way they do that is by locking users into their services and then adding fees or payment options to continue using them.
A woman in early January gained traction with a clip saying she was about to go on her "last Hinge date" because she was done with the app after receiving many "questionable likes." She said the app didn't have a great user experience if you weren't a subscriber.
"The subscription does get you a lot of visibility... I was getting all these likes but, y'all, they weren't great," the TikToker @itsnicolechristine said.
One TikToker made a popular video in November criticizing Raya, the referral-only dating app known for its high-profile user base. She said she didn't land a single date after using the app for a year and that most of the people she saw were either "F-list influencers" or "unemployed DJs."
"Raya just has a really bad vibe; you don't wanna go on dates with those people, I promise you," she said.
In a clip from October, a model also warned people off Raya and said it's full of men who are "sociopathic egomaniacs," adding that she regretted joining the app.
In its stead, many TikTokers are urging each other to go into the wild to look for romance. One woman suggested that people go to places they frequent, while another TikToker recommended that people try dating their co-workers or friends.
"I've asked people out on the street before and have found that they're always super flattered," Stelian told BI. "You'll probably strike out more than not, but it's far more organic and also makes for a good story."
Raya did not immediately respond to BI's request for comment.
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