It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I locked myself in my room and waited for the clock to strike 9 p.m. Then I opened The League app on my phone, pressed a button, and stared anxiously at the countdown on my screen until a stranger appeared.
The League isn’t the only player trying to get a piece of the more than $2 billion that the online dating industry is worth in the U.S., estimates Mark Brooks, CEO of Courtland Brooks, a firm. The League is among a new crop of dating apps whose business models are predicated on the age-old reality that courtship is partly an economic exercise. Swipe right for inequality.
The next two minutes were followed by awkward silences and slightly painful conversation. But after a little while, it turned out to be pretty bearable and..actually kind of fun.
When The League, an invite-only dating app with a college admissions-like application process, launched in Charlotte, there was a waiting list of over 2,500 people. Today it’s over 5,000. Amanda Bradford, founder of The League, has received some backlash for her exclusive online dating app. While many critics and daters have labeled the app elitist and pretentious, Bradford has explained the true intentions for the app was to “build a community where smart, outspoken, high-achieving women are celebrated and encouraged to.
For the last couple of years, I've watched my friends swipe left and right on dating apps, go on countless dates, and unfortunately, sometimes, get ghosted. All the while, I sat back and relaxed on my relationship throne, breathing a sigh of relief that I was #blessed to not have to go through such deep, dark depths to find a partner.
Until that relationship ended (cue Mr. Krabs on the world's smallest violin).
So, when I was given the opportunity to test out The League's new speed dating feature, League Live, I was weirdly..excited? The very modern take on speed dating allows you to go on three live video dates, one after the other, all of which are two minutes each. Afterward, you can decide if they're worthy of your physical presence.
For the time being, the thought of forcing myself out of my apartment to go out on a date gives me crippling anxiety. But a short video chat in the comfort of my own room? Sign meeeee up.
Wait, what even is The League?
If you haven't heard of The League, then I already know your résumé isn't all that impressive. Just kidding. But not really.
The League is an exclusive dating app for those who are, as per its website, 'typically extremely intelligent, hard-working, self-aware, and tend to go after what they want in life – and finding a partner is no exception.' In other words, an app for millennials who are proud to admit their profession is their true love.
And, in case you thought that was rare, there's a waitlist to gain entrance. That's because the team at The League thoroughly checks applicants on both LinkedIn and Facebook to basically, make sure they're successful enough to be on the app (so many finance bros). It also helps to eliminate the possibility of being catfished.
Once you're in, the process is similar to any other dating app. Create your profile, add some photos, write an intriguing bio, brag about where you went to school, and you're done. You also have the option to link your social media accounts like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. That way, potential candidates have the option to do some extra stalking before hitting that Like button.
Unlike Tinder or Bumble, where you can aimlessly swipe until you get bored, The League limits you to a few prospects everyday at 5 p.m., aka the end of a work day. (Workaholics apparently don't have time to think about dating while at the office.) You'll also never be matched with anyone who doesn't fit your preferences, no matter how specific.
You have the option to set whether you're looking for women, men, or both, along with age, height, distance, ethnicity, education, and religion.
To appease my parents, I made sure to set my religion as Jewish before setting anything else. Anyone with a Jewish mother knows exactly what I'm going through here. I also accidentally set 'Highly Selective' as the education, which brought me to guys who went to Ivys like Brown, Columbia, Yale, etc. Let's just say my Rutgers degree looked super impressive.
The number of people you're presented with vary depending on the tier you're in. Let's just say, the more you pay to be part of The League, the more options and perks you get. Lower tier memberships range from $299 for three months to $399 for six months, while the more premium memberships go up to $999 per month. But there is a free tier, for peasants like me.
The experience that is League Live
As with the rest of the app, League Live has a waitlist. At the time of writing this story, there are 4,430 people waiting for the opportunity to video chat their little hearts out. It's also only available to use on Sundays between 9 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., so it's likely you can use being hungover as a great conversation starter.
I'm not going to lie, I was nervous. I brushed my hair (rare occurrence for me), put some makeup on, and dedicated about 10 minutes to finding the best lighting in my room. On the bed? Near the window? On the floor right near my lamp?
It was at that moment I also proceeded to reevaluate my entire life.
Once I situated myself, I put my AirPods in (as to not worry my roommates when they heard me talking to random men via FaceTime on a Sunday night) and pressed the Live button on the screen once the clock hit 9 p.m.
As the app was loading to find my first potential match, I started to have PTSD from the days of Chatroulette, when my friends and I would sit there hoping we'd land on an internet celeb like Jeffree Star, and not men showcasing their you-know-whats.
Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about that.
The League's founder Amanda Bradford confirmed they don't let just anyone on to the live feature. '[We] only select users [for League Live] who have been on the platform long enough to have a valid 'League Score,' she said. 'This score reflects their profile stats and behavior on the app and when talking to matches. Users must have an above-average League Score to be eligible for entrance.'
You also have the option to end the call, and block or flag the person. At which point, The League's customer support team deals with them.
Before each video chat starts, you're given, like, two seconds to see their profile before you're hit with an awkward ice breaker and then a countdown. The questions were things like:
'What do you value most in a friendship?'
'In as simple of terms as possible, what do you think art is?'
'Have you been to any exotic travel destinations?'
Only slightly corny.
Thankfully, I met some bad boys who started the chat by asking me if we can skip the question. Instead, every single one of them asked me about my Thanksgiving. Which was also .. just as awkward.
'How's working at Goldman Sachs?'
Taylor's The League Dating App Reviews
In terms of the chat interface, there is a lot going on. While live, you can see the person's profile and talk to them simultaneously. I know it's meant to help provide context and maybe give people ideas about what to talk about, but I legit felt like I was conducting a job interview.
Questions I definitely asked on these calls:
'So, I see your profile says you went to..Vanderbilt? How was that?'
'How's working at Goldman Sachs? How long have you been there?'
'So, your commute to work isn't all that bad from where you live?'
Upon noticing I worked as a tech reporter, one guy vented to me about how he originally set out to become a journalist but fell into public relations. At which point I replied, 'Well, if you need help getting back into writing, let me know.'
If you do happen to feel butterflies for someone during a call, you can choose to extend the call for another two minutes. Of course, that's only if they too want to continue talking. You can also 'Heart' their profile while video chatting, at which point they will see a pop-up letting them know. Very super chill. If they like you back, then a match icon will show up on their profile and you'll see them in your matches tab. But if you need some more time to think on it, they also appear on your account to like or dislike later.
Since I was testing out the feature, I had the opportunity to video chat with more than three people, which for sure helped ease my nerves. After a couple of attempts, I started to realize it wasn't toooo bad. Everyone was polite, talkative, and .. felt just as uncomfortable as I did. With some, two minutes flew by while with others, I was counting down the seconds.
I also found a bit of a hack to skip over guys I already wasn't attracted to based on their profiles. Rather than awkwardly ending live call for no reason, I would force quit the app and go back in.
I am sorry to these men.
But the app knows when you try to bypass the system. If you leave a live date, you're placed in a two-minute timeout before you can jump back into the live sessions.
After about 20 or so minutes, my time with League Live came to an end. As I sat on my bed and quietly reflected on what just happened, I realized the whole video chat feature isn't such a bad idea after all.
While I didn't think that I'd be able to gauge whether I was attracted to or interested in someone based solely on video, I was proven wrong. It was actually a little too easy. And it saved me a lot of time, effort, and mental gymnastics that come with dating in 2019.
Will I do it again? Maybe once in a while. But I might also start vetting guys I meet on other dating apps via FaceTime before I agree to grab drinks. Ya know, just as a precaution.
Dating apps continue to up their game, so to speak, as technology gets more and more advanced, and there are many cool dating app features you may not know about. For instance, some let you leave voice messages for one another while others let you send pictures. Now, as of Nov. 8, Coffee Meets Bagel is getting in on the added-features game with the launch of an innovative video feature option, so you'll have a fully dimensional glimpse into potential matches.
Taylors The League Dating Application
Sometimes with online dating and dating apps, people worry about being catfished, where someone does not look the same in person as they do in their photos. But if you have the opportunity to send a video in-app, you get to see them up close and personal, in a sense, which seems like a big positive. For instance, Hinge introduced video profiles earlier this year, and Lively, too, has video wherein you can even blur yourself if you don't want the conversation to just be looks-oriented.
'The Coffee Meets Bagel design has made it really easy for people to share about themselves — this will be a game-changer!' Coffee Meets Bagel's Co-Founder and COO Dawoon Kang tells Bustle. 'The future of dating apps is where people experience real connection on the app, not after they meet up in the real world.' Kang also said the video feature will help Coffee Meets Bagel users get a better sense of other members on the app, i.e., their potential future dates, since the videos will allow people to learn more than they can from just profile pictures and written messages alone.
It definitely sounds like yet another way to weed potential matches out, which is a big plus. After all, dating apps can get overwhelming, and fast, so when added features can differentiate one from the next, everyone wins. That said, here are even more cool dating app features you probably don't know about, but should start using, and STAT.
As mentioned above, Coffee Meets Bagel just launched their new video feature, which includes a 'question of the day' in order to get members talking even more. For each question, CMB members can create a video up to eight seconds long. The daily questions will allow you to see the nuances of someone's personality, and, TBH, nothing can replace seeing someone in a video — except for meeting them in person, of course, but hopefully the video will encourage you to do so even more. Winooski state dating laws. Videos can be viewed by members in the area; however, similar to Snapchat, they'll disappear once the topic refreshes. See? Catfishing will be nearly impossible, since CMB members will keep making new videos.
Get Coffee Meets Bagel on iOS or Android.
The League, a by-application-only dating app wherein you need both Facebook and LinkedIn to apply, already sets itself apart from other apps in that it limits you to five matches per day. With that algorithm, two out of the five have already liked you, and those two come from each user's 'hearted queue,' ranked in the likeliness of a match occurring. But if you use The League's 'power move' feature, you can dig into the app's algorithm and increase the chances of a match in just 24 hours (for just $7). It's a way for you to cut through the competition and move to the front of the line. You'll be able to skip a potential match's waitlist and show up in their next batch of matches with a special heart icon. After all, your goal is to get offline and meet a match in person, right? And, this way, the sooner, the better. You can also add a message when cutting to the front of the line, which is another bonus.
Get The League on iOS.
Happn is the dating app that uses geotracking to tell you where you and potential matches passed by each other — literally. It's spooky yet cool. I actually met my last boyfriend on both Happn and Bumble — and Happn said we were passing each other, physically, 50-some times a week. It turned out the apartment I was subletting was around the corner from his work. Before we met, we messaged a lot, and talked on the phone, but we also used Happn's voice messaging feature, which allows you to leave one-minute message after one-minute message. I can attest to the fact that it's a fun way to get to know someone, and, once he and I actually met, I think it made us more comfortable talking face-to-face.
Get Happn on iOS or Android.
Not only did Bumble recently introduce Bumble Bizz to help you network, as well as to find jobs and mentors, but their dating app section has a fun way to get to know your matches better — exchanging photos. You can either take a selfie and send it to a match, or you can choose pictures from your phone's camera roll. I think it does help personalize your messages, so you're not just copying and pasting, 'Hi, TBD. How's your week going so far?' Instead, you can show them how your week's going by exchanging pictures of what you've been up to. Using the example of my ex again, this feature helped us get to know each other a lot before we met in real life, and it's another way to see if someone is legit and not just catfishing you.
Get Bumble on iOS or Android.
Tinder is another app that's adding new features a lot, including one where you can see who likes you before you swipe right on them, appropriately called Likes You. To use it, you have to have Tinder Gold, a fairly new members-only service. As anyone who uses Tinder knows, the more filtering options, the better. Plus, seeing who likes you first could give you the added boost of confidence you may need to swipe right on them, too. And if you see that someone likes you and you like them back, you can start messaging right away, which is another perk of the Likes You feature — cut right to the dating app chase.
Get Tinder on iOS or Android.
Earlier this year, Hinge launched a video feature, in hopes of users' conversations being increased even more so, and more telling than profiles based on photos and text alone. With Hinge's video feature, while you don't take live video, you can swap any of your profile photos for a video that you have on Instagram, Facebook, or in your iPhone camera roll. Videos will then autoplay on a loop as a potential match scrolls through your profile. Though sound will be muted, you can also enable it. Sounds pretty easy and efficient, right? Not to mention, it gives a whole new dimension to the app, as well as to your profile.
Get Hinge on iOS or Android.
When you use Badoo, not only can you match with people, but you can match with people who look like your celebrity crush lookalikes. The feature is called Badoo Lookalikes. With it, you can search through thousands of celebs, and then the app does the rest — it'll pair you with the celeb dopplegangers among its 350 million+ users via facial recognition software. Talk about high-tech, right? Then you and your celeb match can start messaging, assuming you both swiped right. And if celebrities aren't your thing, but maybe a Facebook friend is, you can have the app find you someone to match with who looks like a friend of yours. Or, you can upload a picture of someone, anyone, and the app will go to work once again, finding someone(s) that look similar. After all, everyone has a certain 'type,' and Badoo now has the solution to finding more of your type for you.
Get Badoo on iOS or Android.
As you can see, there are plenty of unique features available on all different kinds of dating apps. The great thing is, you can try out one of the above, or all of the above, and see which ones work best for you.