When selecting a photo for one’s dating profile, many of us might turn to friends for advice. The downside of this arrangement is that our friends love us and are therefore less likely (we suspect) to give an honest answer.
But over at dating app Inner Circle, users can get an answer from an impartial judge via the app’s customer support team — which just happens to be a group of young mothers who work part time to field all your deep, dark dating questions.
By design, the six Amsterdam-based women who approve new users and handle support inquiries are all partnered women with children who, as a company spokesperson told us via email, offer their insights “from the perspective of people who conquered the dating game.”
Inner Circle is an exclusive dating app for users who’ve been vetted by a member of the app’s customer support team. The app launched first in Europe back in 2013, before making its way to the U.S. last year.
Users are accepted (or denied) based off their presence on at least three social accounts, and the goal is to minimize the number of jerks on the platform. As a spokesperson for Inner Circle told us last year, “Bottom line: in a sea of ghosting and zombie-ing, it’s not looks, job title, or talents that mark you out as special, but manners.”
Not that looks aren’t at least a piece of the equation. Per Inner Circle Communications and PR Manager Nichi Hodgson, the customer support team sometimes offers users profile picture feedback, based off how well a person’s photo is likely to perform according to “machine learning” built into the app. (As other dating apps have found, it’s online dating 101 that a clear photo of one’s face is associated with more connections.)
“They also advise members on why they might not be getting enough interaction on the app, or why the messages they are sending are not getting replies,” Hodgson told Mashable. “They’ve even been known to counsel people into getting back on the horse after a dating relationship they were really hopeful about didn’t work out, giving the members little confidence boosts along the way.”
Inner Circle is far from the first of its peers to offer online-specific dating advice to its users. In fact, most dating sites and apps engage in some level of numbers crunching to offer users data-backed strategies for a better online experience. (More on that this way.)
What sets Inner Circle apart, according to Hodgson, are its team of partnered moms who she says draw on their own dating experiences to answer address user inquiries.
“They are rare in the dating community – most advice aimed at young single people is coming from young single people!” she explained. “They have real proven life experience to help qualify their advice.”
The most common question Inner Circle’s customer service team fields? Users want to know why no one is reaching out to them.
Team member Sarah told us via email how she handles inquiries like this one.
“The truth is – you need to be active on the app in order for people to be able to find you – so just like dating in real life, you get out what you put in. That means regularly logging in, daring to like or wink at people you find attractive and messaging first too, irrespective of your gender. The reason this is important is because this use teaches the algorithm who else you might like the look of – and encourages the app to see you as an active user, thereby bringing up your profile to more members – and potential dates.”
The toughest questions to answer? Inner Circle’s customer support team points to the more vulnerable ones.
Per support member Jacqueline:
“Anything that indicates the user has an underlying deeper sense of low self-esteem – you can give real encouragement and positive feedback on how to best use the app but you can’t solve confidence issues overnight. Kind and positive words always help move things in the right direction though!”
Or, there’s the almost impossible to answer specific question of why one user did not reply to another’s message.
As support member Annabel wrote us:
“It’s not always ‘they didn’t like you.’ It could often be that work is in the way. Maybe they’re going something difficult personally. Maybe they’re seeing other people right now and don’t have the capacity to engage with another date but aren’t ready to delete the dating app altogether. The trick is not to take it personally and to keep going until you find the person delighted to receive your message – and with the capacity to honour it and you – that’s the only person that you want to interact with after all!”
Even if you’ve tried (and failed) to make it past Inner Circle’s application process, its customer support team’s advice is useful for anyone looking to actually enjoy the process of online dating, or at least make it more bearable.
It’s a challenge, considering how discouraging it can be for everyone involved. But as the number of people meeting online rises, its maybe one worth pursing.