Have you ever used a dating app? If you’re happily married to your high school sweetheart—congratulations, you dodged a bullet. The rest of us know exactly where this is going: Dating apps suck. No, it’s not you.
Online dating works well in theory. Swipe right on people you find attractive. Swipe left on people you don’t. If you both swipe right, the app opens a chat between the two of you where you have some delightful banter before exchanging numbers, meeting for a coffee, and eventually having 2.5 kids in the suburbs.
The reality looks a lot more bleak: Only about 16 percent of first messages get a reply, and most of those don’t lead to a date. If you do start chatting, the conversations all start to feel the same, like a bad sitcom on repeat: How is your week? Is that your dog?
But as our world becomes more digital, online dating also feels inevitable. As of 2017, 40 percent of couples claimed to have met online, nearly double those in 2010. After a year of pandemic lockdowns during which online work and education became the new normal, half of us forgot how to make eye contact. It’s tough to imagine serendipitously meeting your future partner at the corner bookstore.
The end result is that more singles are giving up on dating altogether. In fact, over half of U.S. singles are not looking to date at all. Challenges with dating ultimately contribute to the “epidemic of loneliness and social isolation” that the surgeon general says is sweeping the country. It’s not just in our heads: Studies show that loneliness increases risk of premature death as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
AI can help—specifically, YourMove AI, the chatbot I built to flirt for you on your dating app.
Imagine meeting someone over dinner. You’re well-dressed, witty and well-spoken. Even your dog thinks you’re cute. But that’s not how it usually goes these days. Instead, it’s 7am and you’re on the train to work staring at three photos and a six-word description and trying to find a clever way to start a conversation. It’s not for lack of charisma. Trying to build rapport with a stranger over text is just hard.
Give YourMove AI a profile and it suggests an engaging conversation starter. Give it a conversation, and it suggests replies. AI texting assistants don’t replace your wit or personality. They help you overcome the initial writer’s block of staring at a conversation wondering what to say. They shift your headspace from the tired commuter to the charismatic cocktail party version of you. By offering personalized and context-aware ideas for where to take the conversation, AI can make the dance of texting more fun.
AI can also help compensate for our collective lack of social energy. Our culture favors outgoing people, leading to higher life satisfaction and income. Texting assistants can give introverts a leg up. Being one standard deviation more extraverted translates to roughly half of the increase in lifetime earnings one would gain from a college degree. This is doubly true for people suffering from social anxiety. That extra help from AI can make texting feel less overwhelming—and often means the difference between saying something and saying nothing at all.
Those bemoaning the loss of originality should remember that we’re not that original to begin with. Think about the last time you sent someone a movie quote or a meme. AI is just one more way of taking existing content and re-delivering it to connect with someone. What emerges is less texting fatigue, and deeper conversations.
Executed correctly, AI can make it easier for us to forge deep connections. To start, it can just make online dating a little less hard.
Dmitri is a Data Scientist and the co-founder of YourMove AI. He is usually in New York, occasionally single, and always curious.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.