Inside the world’s most elite dating app
Online dating is increasingly a numbers game. Some services count on number-crunching algorithms that claim to compute the equation of love. Others opt to sell themselves on sheer mass. And when things don’t work out? Send another 20 messages like you’re tossing fishing lines into a crowded aquarium—you don’t have to know what you’re doing, you’ll eventually snag on something. It’s this mentality that keeps people swiping right for eternity like a modern day Sisyphus.
This may be part of the reason why there is a new trend in online dating: exclusivity. Throw away the notion of “plenty of fish in the sea.” Instead, these closed-off networks of daters suggest you value quality over quantity.
That’s what the Dating Loungepurports to be. The creation of professional matchmaker Samantha Daniels of Samantha’s Table, the app skids by on her pedigree. She’s an accomplished talent, an author and on-air personality who claims to be responsible for over 300 marriages in her 15 years of playing Cupid for the upper class.“[I’ve] spent a lot of time listening to what high-end successful single people like and don’t like about dating, and more recently about dating apps,” she told the Daily Dot. This is what inspired her to launch the Dating Lounge, the gated community of online dating.
And she let me peek behind the velvet rope.
Getting in the club
To even get to the point where you’re setting up a profile on the Dating Lounge, you have to be invited to the party (there’s an impressive waiting list). “Affluent people want in a dating app with an exclusive community full of people with whom they have a lot in common. The best way to achieve that result is by making the app invitation-only,” Daniels explained.
Users either have to be invited by existing users, request account approval by an existing member, or register for admission via a vetting process. “Our tagline,” Daniels said, “is ‘Do you belong?’ playing off of the double-entendre ‘Do you belong?’ and ‘Should’ you belong? This keeps the membership highly vetted.”
So who gets in? “The Dating Lounge is targeting upscale members who are looking for real relationships. The members of The Dating Lounge are well-educated, influential, successful, and affluent individuals.” Daniels says the users of the app are generally all connected by “similar friends, education, careers, backgrounds, experiences, values, and philanthropic endeavors.” Which, sure, at face value sounds like a Tinder for rich people.
“I spent a lot of time coming up with a very strategic list of sophisticated interests from which Members can choose to really reflect their lifestyles.”
The unconnected are left at the door, unable to join without accompanying references or the credentials for entry. They’re joined at the curb by users who are already in a relationship. Every user on the site must link a social media site to their account upon registration. Daniels says the linked profile is combed through “to make sure no one is married or ‘in a relationship’ and if they are, they are automatically blocked from joining The Lounge.”
Joining the elite
Once you clear the bouncers and get inside, you begin creating your profile. Instead of attempting to fill up blank text boxes with attention-grabbing information, the Dating Lounge automatically generates each user a description based on how they fill out survey-style questions with checkbox answers.
Daniels says this is a strategic attempt to recreate her matchmaking success for online dating. “I spent a lot of time coming up with a very strategic list of sophisticated interests from which Members can choose to really reflect their lifestyles. In this way, they can see what interests they have in common with other members,” she says.Users are asked to describe their look with descriptors like “doe-eyed,” “girl next door,” and “va va voom,” and their personality with options such as “ball of fire,” “big cheese,” or “bon vivant.” All of this eventually produces a paint-by-numbers profile where the phrases selected are dropped into the blank spaces in a Mad Libs-style paragraph that will greet others when they visit.
Additional information can be provided to better flesh out the profile. Information like where a person went to school consists primarily of prestigious, private institutions—Ivy Leaguers will feel fully represented—while many major public and state schools were bunched under the generic “Other,” from which users can then manually enter their lesser-known school.
And the upper crustiness of it all really hits new heights when you get to the app’s income level information. Users can optionally choose to set their range of earnings, which are broken down as “Under 100K”, “Over 100K,” “Over 250K,” “Over 500K,” “Over 1 Million,” “Over 5 Million,” and “Other.” Intimidating? Absolutely.
Finding a match on the Dating Lounge isn’t all that different than other sites, save for the clientele. The app presents potential matches, whom users can then like or dislike based off their profile. “There are 15 specific match settings that allow users to strategically search for the type of person they want to date,” Daniel says. This ensures shared values and interests. “I am a firm believer that the more things two people have in common, the more chance they have for a successful relationship,” she explained.
Daniels believes her years of matchmaking experience gives the Dating Lounge an edge. “The most unique aspect of The Dating Lounge is the fact that it is the only dating app on the market that has a real life Professional Matchmaker (me) behind it, who has been deeply entrenched in the dating industry for over 15 years,” Daniels says. “All other dating apps have business people behind them who, try as they might, just don’t have a real understanding about what high-end single people want and don’t want in quite the same way as I do.”While you could argue that the business minds behind other dating apps don’t focus on “high-end singles” because it’s a much smaller market than the general population, it’s clear Daniels has her finger on the pulse of a particular market. She says she’s developed the matching and vetting algorithms of the Dating Lounge so her “personalized brand of matchmaking for which I am quite well known is felt throughout the entire app.”
“Some of you might think that [the tips] are not ‘politically correct.'”
If the invisible hand of the matchmaker isn’t yielding the results a person is looking for, they can allow their friends to match them up with a “play matchmaker” option or get direct advice from Daniels herself through the “ask the Matchmaker” feature. Users can ping Daniels with questions regarding dating or matches. “This makes a member feel like they have a support system and that they are not just thrown into another black hole dating app.”