There’s a new app on the dating scene, and before you start with the typical ‘another one?’ question, yes, we always need more of these! Meet Fourplay, the double dating app that lets users team up with a selected friend and match with other pairs. The aim? To allow users to encounter twice the singles in half the time and never feel unsafe again. How does Fourplay work and where does the idea for this app come from? Screen Shot spoke to co-founders Julie Griggs and Danielle Dietzek to find out exactly what the app is all about.
Griggs and Dietzek are both healthcare providers practising primary healthcare in New York, one of the two cities where Fourplay is available for now, along with London. As a result of that, and although the dating app was first launched with its fun and sociable aspect in mind, the more they thought about it, the more they realised that yes, double dating is different, but it is also way safer than your typical one-on-one date with a near stranger.
After launching the app in October 2019, Griggs and Dietzek realised the magnitude of the problem when it comes to safety on dating apps—people, more specifically women, weren’t always feeling safe when meeting first dates through dating apps, for obvious reasons. This only strengthened the two co-founders’ idea that a double dating app might be able to solve this issue as smoothly as possible.
By incorporating their training as clinicians in order to make Fourplay as safe as can be, Griggs and Dietzek added extra features such as the ‘Cold Shoulder’ feature, which does exactly what it says. The Cold Shoulder lets you block, report, or simply ignore other Fourplay users. Why, you ask? As Griggs explained, “Maybe people don’t go on dating apps because they don’t want to see their ex on there, or worse, their dad!”
But extra features put aside, meeting two potential ‘targets’ with one of your best friends feels safer than meeting your most recent match on your own, right? So, if not for safety reasons at first, where was the idea for Fourplay born from?
While on a six-week rotation for school, Griggs went to New York to stay with Dietzek. Now think about it, when you’re an avid user of dating apps in the first place, having friends visit you always means that you’ll have to put your dating life on hold for the duration of their stay. And while there isn’t anything wrong with that, why not do both? Griggs and Dietzek hadn’t lived together since finishing university, and as happy as they were to spend time together, Dietzek also wanted Griggs to experience New York’s vibrant dating scene—and who wouldn’t?
Griggs was game, which resulted in them creating a combined dating profile explains Dietzek, “It consisted of only pictures of the two of us, and we wrote ‘swipe right if you and your awesome friend want to date me and my awesome friend’ and so many people responded.” People loved it, they started messaging the duo saying that they had just the right person in mind and creating group chats outside of the app. Soon enough, Griggs and Dietzek realised that not only had they found the key to meeting double the people in New York in half the time, but that this new approach to dating may well be a game-changer. Someone they knew said that they should make an app out of it, and Fourplay was born.
Fourplay’s philosophy is not only focused on helping users find their new romantic partner. The app is inherently social, meaning that whether you end up finding the love of your life through one of your arranged double dates or not, you’ll always come out of it having met many (hopefully interesting) people—something that can be extremely hard in large cities like New York and London.
“When we were brainstorming about what’s next for Fourplay, we highlighted the negative stigma that comes with being single—you’re isolated, and you become that person that doesn’t get to bring a plus one to your friend’s wedding. You get stuck in your own category,” shares Griggs. “It shouldn’t feel that way,” she continues, “being single is not inferior to being in a relationship. We just want people to connect and feel included. You can go on a date and find love, great! Or maybe not, but you can also find a friend or even someone you could have a business relationship with! There is a lot that can come from a Fourplay match.”
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According to the two co-founders, many users, or teams as they’re called, have their preference settings open to anyone, meaning that they’re in it for the social connections, not only the romantic ones. When both teammates agree on a match—the interest has to be unanimous in order to create one—the double date gets organised, and then what? While it would be easy to assume that each duo has to come ‘prepared’ with an assigned date in mind, Griggs and Dietzek wanted to shake things up a little.
“There shouldn’t be a predetermined expectation, if you go into a date saying ‘I’m going to have this person and you get the other one’ then you’re almost forcing chemistry, otherwise your date is going to be pretty awkward,” argues Dietzek. In order to take that pressure off, Fourplay lets users find out whether there is any chemistry by themselves, making double dating with two strangers suddenly less panic-inducing than it sounds.
Fourplay pushes users to grow and challenge their relationships, both with new encounters and long time friends (your teammate), by giving them free reign over who they agree to meet. Imagine your teammate matched with another duo that you haven’t seen. The app will let you know that your friend already liked this specific team, so it’s now up to you to decide whether you want to go on this double date. Of course, if you have no interest in this team, you can swipe left and select the ‘no, I’m selfish’ button.
But Fourplay will prompt you to think twice about the date and your friend’s potential crush. Who knows, you might take one for the team, click on the ‘fine I’ll be the wingman’ button, and your friend might fall head over heels.
So, if you’re up for meeting twice the singles in half the time now that lockdown restrictions are being eased once more, why not download the double dating app, either from App Store or Google Play depending on your smartphone. The more, the merrier, as they say—and we all have a lot of catching on that part before the end of 2020. Bonus? Fourplay will give you an extra ego boost for being a good friend. It’s a win-win situation. I’ll see you on that double date.
The first online dating site, Match.com, was launched in 1995, three years before Google. 20 years forward, dating apps have become close to synonymous with our relationships. We agree to give them access to some parts of our lives (to an extent), and they guarantee to provide us with better matches and more interesting dates than the ones we usually get. At the same time, dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, and many others, allow researchers to access more data about our dating lives and ‘mating patterns’ to further their studies on compatibility. Dating apps also reveal the potential of sharing your private information with an algorithm in the name of love—a small price to pay to meet the right person, right?
In a study conducted on 4 million users of an unnamed dating site (sounds like Tinder to me), Elizabeth Bruch and Mark Newman from the University of Michigan found some results that anyone with dating experience would find predictable. For example, reciprocated messages mean that there is a mutual interest between two potential dating partners, and men tend to initiate contact first, which also doesn’t sound surprising.
Then, by coming up with a ‘desirability score’ for each of the participants, Brunch and Newman found some more customary information. An overview of the results showed that, “Older women are less desirable, while older men are more so. The average woman’s desirability drops from the time she is 18 until she is 60. For men, desirability peaks around 50 and then declines.” This comes as no surprise in the dating world.
The final aspect they analysed was people’s education level. For men, a woman with an undergraduate degree was most desirable, whereas for women, further education was always more appealing. Keeping all these results in mind, it makes sense that dating apps and dating websites are under quite a lot of pressure to make sure you are matched with the right person for you.
Even before the Big Data boom—when we are finally able to store large amounts of data automatically—users of online dating sites were required to fill in online questionnaires and profiles. Now, algorithms can collect more data on you than you can imagine (like your location, your bio, your Facebook profile, and images) to easily predict your next match of the day, without you having to answer a set of lengthy questions, or even do anything at all.
By manually filling an online questionnaire about our qualities and flaws, there’s a chance that some of our answers won’t always be completely honest. Algorithms can use our online behaviour to learn the real answers to questions we might lie about otherwise.
When The Guardian’s Judith Duportail asked Tinder for all the information it had collected on her over time, the company sent Duportail a profile report spanning over 800 pages. The report was a sort of tipping point for big data collection and our understanding of it; it revealed how apps can work out our personalities and lifestyles through our social media activity, our likes, our Spotify playlists, and Instagram photos. While many find this type of data mining an invasion of privacy, others look at it as the only real way to find their perfect relationship.
Dating apps promise to connect us with people with compatible traits. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. As machine-learning algorithms become more accurate than ever, dating companies will be able to learn more about who we are and who’s the right fit for us. But there are a few steps still missing in the quest for this.
Apps can track where we’ve been, how long we stayed there, and if we went home with the person we were meeting. Still, few ask users for the outcomes of actual dates. The harvesting of our personal detail goes far beyond what many of us could imagine—Google can track you through your phone, it knows everything you’ve searched, the apps you use, which events you’ve attended, and it even has the information you’ve deleted. So how come, with all this data out there for grabs, dating apps continue to overlook the importance of not only whose profile photos we like but also who we felt chemistry with in person.
It is clear that dating apps have the possibility of changing our dating lives for the better by using even more of our information and data. With ameliorated algorithms, the future of online dating looks bright. But maybe the delay in improvement is not coming from the technology apps are using but from the CEOs themselves—because finding love is big business, and as long as we keep searching for and not finding our perfect match, these founders are only getting richer.