In Texas' tech capital, people turn to apps to find love

Austinites finding love with dating apps

AUSTIN, Texas -- In a city where rides and food are just a swipe away – it makes sense that your future Valentine can be too.

Austin has more singles than barbecue joints - a problem, if you ask me – so it’s no surprise apps have become increasingly popular.

“A student here may meet someone from St. Edwards and they’d never meet them ever," explained UT student Andrew Dancer. 

“In a campus like this, it’s so hard to meet people that are just like you.  So I kind of like putting where I’m from, what I do, what I’m interested in," added fellow UT student Mariana Quijano. 

While online dating has seemingly been around for years, app-based dating is continuing to explode. 

Samantha Fulgham is the Head of College Marketing for Austin-based Bumble, one of the fastest-growing dating apps.

“On our first birthday, we hit 1 million users. On our second birthday last December, we hit 12 million users," Fulgham explained.

To nobody's surprise, this time of year typically brings a spike in users. 

"Obviously Valentine's Day is a big holiday for us because we like making meaningful connections.  But we actually usually see spikes a little bit before and after Valentine's Day," Fulgham said.

Users tend to use mobile dating apps for the convenience, and chance to learn more about a person before meeting them. 

"It's a lot more controlled compared to the hostility of a bar. I know my sister uses it at some points, and it makes me a little bit more comfortable that she's able to talk to the person a little bit more before she (meets them in person)," said UT student Sean McCormick. 

Fulgham joined the company while still a student at the University of Alabama. 

While she had used other dating apps before, Fulgham explained Bumble's message of female empowerment stood out to her. 

Unlike other apps, with Bumble - it's women who have to make the first move.

“That’s what we want for every woman, that that’s possible.  If you can just break down those walls, and make the first move. Whether that’s with a guy, with a job, with a promotion- anything," explained Fulgham. 

Like most apps, users have six pictures and a short bio, with an option to link to their Spotify account. 

The app is free, though it allows for certain purchases that give users expanded options. 

From there, they can match with other users by swiping left or right.  If users match, the woman has 24 hours to reach out to initiate a conversation.  

While usage and download rates have exploded for Bumble, the industry still faces a societal stigma. 

Elizabeth Golembiewski is a certified dating and relationship coach in Austin.

She said as apps have become more popular – that stigma has faded.

“It goes across all ages.  There are young, there are middle-aged, and there are older people," Golembiewski explained. 

Golembiewski points to apps' convenience, comfortability, and availability of single people.

As a group, Millenials are choosing to get married later, leaving a wider dating pool of young professionals.

But while they’re useful tools to making an initial connection – Golembiewski warned some people can tend to over-rely on them.

“For a lot of people really, it seems easier to meet.... under this guise of electronic mode, then go up and approach somebody," she explained.

Austin may need all the help it can get. 

A recent "Romance Index" compiled by Instacart named it the sixth least romantic city in the US.

By comparison, Austin's neighbor to the east, Houston, was named eighth most romantic.

So how do online sites compare?

Match.com asserts over 100 million people are online searching to find a special someone.

As the market becomes flooded with options, Bumble has expanded their brand and footprint. Instead of solely focusing on dating, they now offer options that focus on finding friends, with plans to launch another focused on business relationships.

 

(© 2017 KVUE)


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