Within the last five years, being able to swipe left or right on a potential love interest seems to have replaced the stereotypical coffee-shop-meet cute story for thousands of people in our generation. More and more people are finding dating success by turning to their phones. With more people using technology as a means of meeting people, different apps and websites are constantly being introduced for every differing demographic imaginable. From Farmers Only — a dating app for farmers — to JDate — a dating app specifically geared towards Jewish singles— personalized dating apps allow for connections to be made no matter the person’s lifestyle. An individual’s race, occupation and religious background can all play an important role when it comes to dating and meeting new people. With this knowledge, Zac Taylor created the concept for New, a dating app specifically designed for former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“When I was at UVU, the BYU students had Mutual, a dating app, and during that time I had family members who were leaving the church,” Taylor said. “It just got me to thinking that you kind of give up your whole community when you decide to leave the church.”
Finding a New Sense of Community
Finding inspiration in his family life and the dating scene in Utah County, Taylor recognized the need for a resource that would allow former church members to make connections organically with people who share similar ideals. As of 2018, 49% of the population in Salt Lake County identifies as a member of the LDS church. This is the lowest percentage of church members in the county in nearly 90 years. With a population whose diversity continues to grow — as well as a depleting number of church members — it seems a new sect has been formed amongst the people of Utah. Those individuals who have left the church, or “ex-Mormons,” now find themselves in a community all their own. Although that community continues to grow, individuals may find themselves lacking any sort of support system or sense of camaraderie when compared to their time in the church. The purpose of New is to bring together those like-minded individuals with others who can understand and empathize with their situation and history.
“Seems like a fun way to meet people who know your situation a bit better.” Payton Mckinley — a sophomore at the University of Utah and former member of the LDS Church — explains that he’s hopeful about the app because it “could make a first date less awkward for sure, having someone with a similar story.”
How it Works
“New” gives users the option to either swipe “Nope” or “Wow” on an individual, and if both users swipe “Wow,” a match is made and users can then message one another. The most remarkable feature of the app is that it’s LGBTQ+ friendly, with users being able to choose their sexual orientation and personal preferences. Preference for a user’s church affiliation can also be made with users being asked what their stance on the church may be. While the app is fairly new, Taylor is constantly planning for the future and looking at how to better innovate and format the app for users. He is even contemplating adding an option for individuals who are interested in new friendships as opposed to romantic relationships.
The communities we grow up in and beliefs we form early on in life can mold us and affect our lives into adulthood. It can create hardships when an individual distances themselves from ideals they held onto for so long. It can lead to self-doubt and may create the need to find someone who understands their situation. While the transition from one belief system to another can be challenging for most people, it’s exactly those people Taylor had in mind when designing “New.” The goal is to minimize that discomfort and provide assistance to those making the transition. Taylor understands the struggle, having seen it in his own family life, and it’s his personal experience that helps him keep users in mind. “It’s certainly not easy,” Taylor said of leaving the LDS church. “I don’t wish it upon anybody, but I do think the app provides [help].”
New has already seen a substantial amount of traffic since being launched, with over 75,000 swipes and nearly 3,000 downloads so far. While most users fall within the 18-34 age range, the app is open to all ages and is available for download on both Android and iOS products. Dating apps have become our generation’s main medium when forming relationships, which honestly just makes me wish we were all better with in-person human interaction — but I digress.
Whether or not you frequent online dating, I think we can all agree that New is a step in the right direction. As an all-inclusive app designed for those searching for people with similar beliefs and like-mindedness, it’s a positive platform whose aim is genuine — to bring people together.