It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you've ever used a dating app, you've also taken a screenshot of a particularly noteworthy profile to text to your friends. Betches' new dating app Ship takes that idea to a whole new level: It adds a social twist to the typical dating app experience by allowing users to swipe alongside a "crew" of their friends, and discuss profiles and matches in a group chat. The app launched on Tuesday, Jan. 22 in partnership with dating giant Match (parent company to Match.com, Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, and more).
When new users download the app, they select if they are currently single or in a relationship. Each option leads to a different interface. If you're single, you can swipe for yourself — like you might on any other dating app — or invite a group of friends to join you. If you're in a relationship, you can swipe as part of your single friends' crews, but you cannot swipe for yourself.
Last month, a Betches blog post revealing their plans to launch a dating app began on a sharp note: "Dating sucks," the post announced. The Betches co-founders Aleen Kuperman, Samantha Fishbein, and Jordana Abraham, all 29, tell Elite Daily that Ship aims to suck the suckiness out of modern dating by lowering the stakes and infusing the process with a friendly, supportive spirit.
"Part of the reason that swiping can be exhausting is because it feels every swipe or every match, if it doesn’t materialize into what you want, it’s a big disappointment," Abraham tells Elite Daily. "But if that’s not the first priority that’s in your head, and your priority is just kind of enjoying it, it lowers the stakes and becomes less disappointing if it doesn’t go well."
"When you’re disappointed on most dating apps, there’s nothing to build you back up," Fishbein adds. "But when you’re with your friends, they’re not going to be like, ‘Well, now you’ll never find someone.’"
Each single user's profile is pretty standard if you're familiar with dating apps; there's space to add up to six photos, a bio, and your school and workplace. Users can also select what they're looking for (options include "a relationship," "something casual," "new friends," and "don't know yet"), as well as more playful elements, like their zodiac sign.
The app's celebration of friendship is refreshing, according to some early users. "I love the premise and think it's super fitting for my friend group (we're all very involved in each other's lives in every way, including our love lives). I honestly wish it existed when I was single," Candice, 25, tells Elite Daily. "It's the closest thing I have to being on dating apps again, which is very fun for me! And I also genuinely want to help my friends find nice dudes."
Sarah, 24, tells Elite Daily that she wonders if her friends know her type better than she does. "I love the idea of having my friends weigh in on my dating life," she says. "The only thing I'd worry about is that they wouldn't get my 'type' exactly right — but they mostly know me well enough to be able to select the type of guy I'd be into. I'm curious if they might actually have a better eye than me!"
But not everyone is sold on Ship's purpose. "When it comes to who I swipe on, that's really not something I look for advice on," Veronica, 24, tells Elite Daily. "I usually would seek advice from friends when it comes to relationship things, like going on dates, texting, and intimacy. But when it comes to who I'm going to swipe right or left on, I don't really care what my friends have to say."
Hannah, 23, is also skeptical. "I've actually had my best friend take over my Tinder and we are like... best friends, and I wasn't into a single person she matched with for me," she tells Elite Daily. "I don't think I would [like Ship] because I doubt that [my friends] would know who I would be interested in."
Ship is not the first dating app to attempt this concept. In 2017, Hinge released an app called Matchmaker, which gave users the chance to set up their single Facebook friends. It was later pulled from the App Store; a representative for Hinge declined to comment.
The Betches co-founders tell Elite Daily that Ship will find more solid footing in the dating app market due to its in-app chat functionality, which Matchmaker lacked, and a more focused marketing strategy.
"We are leading with this [group chat feature] and it's the central purpose of the app," Kuperman says. "Whereas Hinge branded itself first as matching with people who were mutual friends."
Furthermore, the app could benefit from being more inclusive. Currently, the only gender options are "female" and "male." The app does not allow coupled-up users to swipe on their own behalf, which limits people in open relationships.
Ship is an appealing concept in theory, but only time will tell if it hooks people in practice. Regardless of what happens, the Betches co-founders believe firmly in the transformative power of setting up your friends. Abraham herself says she was introduced to her boyfriend by her friend's boyfriend.
"If someone is single and looking for a relationship, and you set them up with someone they really hit it off with, then you’ve created so much happiness for those people," she says. That's an idea that's easy to ship.