- Dating apps are increasingly connecting people who live or work close by, have the same commute, or went to college together.
- Sometimes dating apps can speed up a relationship that might have unfolded, albeit platonically, in real life.
- Most dating app users opt to see potential matches who live within a few miles of them, so they’re bound to run into neighbours.
Paige Monborne was playing around on Bumble when a message popped up from a match.
“I don’t mean to be creepy,” the guy said, “but I’ve seen you a couple times when I’ve been biking to work.”
She took a closer look at his profile picture and instantly knew who he was. Monborne, a 26-year-old healthcare policy consultant in Washington, DC, had not only seen this guy twice while he was biking across Key Bridge and she was running – she’d noticed how cute he was when they locked eyes.
Today, the two are a couple.
“Our first meeting was essentially what people would write about in a [Craigslist] Missed Connections encounter,” Monborne said. “Except we were able to skip the weird Craigslist post and, ironically, reclaim the connection via Bumble.”
Dating apps have the potential to connect people all over the world – and indeed, they sometimes do. Yet more often than not, dating apps end up matching users who live or work within blocks of each other, or take the same commute to the office.
I asked the Business Insider staff if they’d ever heard of something like this happening, and got a flurry of responses that were essentially multiple versions of the same story. One man, for example, went to college with his now-boyfriend, but never knew he existed until they met on Tinder in Manhattan.
To be sure, some dating apps are specifically designed to connect you with people you’ve met – or at least could have met – in real life. Happn shows you other Happn users you’ve recently walked by. And Hinge matches you with friends of Facebook friends, who you might have met years ago at, say, a birthday party.
Even on apps that aren’t specifically designed for reconnecting, most people opt to see matches who live close by.
Match data shared with Business Insider reveals that 69% of active users set their default distance – i.e. how far away a match can live – to five miles. Meanwhile, dating app Clover found that, in New York City, most matches happen between people from the same borough. Still, Hinge reports that less than half of users set a maximum distance, and of those who do, the average maximum distance is about 25 miles.
Dating apps can sometimes catalyze a relationship that might have unfolded in real life
Thea Domber, a 36-year-old tech executive working in New York City’s Flatiron District, met her now-fiance on Tinder, only to learn that they’d worked a few blocks away from each other in the Financial District for five years.
“We both frequented the same bars after the work, the same social hangouts,” she said. “It’s just hard to imagine that even back then, he wouldn’t have caught my attention, even for a look.”
Domber’s theory? “People tend to be face down in their phone. Even things that used to be social, whether you’re waiting in line or eating lunch … people are just constantly checking stocks or checking email or checking Slack,” she said. “They’re just not noticing each other.”
Sometimes, online dating can simply catalyze a relationship that would have existed, platonically, IRL. On Thought Catalogue, Kelsey Thompson writes of meeting her next-door neighbour on Tinder, after which they began dating. (He initially recognised her fireplace in her profile photo because he had the same one.)
Thompson writes: “We’ve bumped into each other in the hallway several times since I’ve moved in. However, had it not been for Tinder being the catalyst for our initial meeting, I do not believe our relationship would have blossomed into a romantic one.”
Anthony and Katie (they didn’t want to disclose their last names) matched on Bumble in 2016, only to learn that Anthony could see Katie’s apartment from his balcony. They’re now engaged.
As for Monborne, she’s still amazed that she’s dating the cute biker from the bridge – and that a dating app gave her a second chance at meeting him. She said, “I wouldn’t have ever thought growing up that this is the way I would meet a significant other.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.