Popularity of matchmaking apps waning

  • Just 7% of Brits find dating apps efficient at meeting a match and over a quarter of Gen Z worry about being ‘cat fished’ online (28%)
  • Over a third (36%) of Brits say they would prefer to meet their next date face-to-face
  • Eventbrite data shows the number of UK dating events has risen by 400% between 2014 and 2018
  • Social skills expert Jon Bradshaw suggests dating through real-life events is a more natural and self-satisfactory way to meet prospective partners

Real life dating events are making a comeback, as Brits ditch their dating apps in favour of quirky match-making experiences including Dating Against Humanity parties and naked speed-dating (yes, really …).

New figures from global ticketing and event technology platform Eventbrite reveal ‘IRL’ dating events are very much back on trend, with the platform recording a 400% increase in face-to-face dating and singles events across the UK between 2014 and 2018.

A lot has changed since Tinder burst onto the scene in 2012, with a plethora of dating apps now out there, all claiming to help you meet ‘the one’ – or the one-night-stand – depending on your preference. Indeed, according to a recent study by HTC, a quarter of Brits have at least one or more dating apps installed on their phone*.

But Eventbrite data signals a growing movement for real life meet-ups. In fact, just this year alone there have been more than 750 dating or singles events listed on the site in the UK.

An Eventbrite survey indicates that this could be down to swipe fatigue, with just one in ten (12%) people saying they find dating apps exciting, and a growing sense of distrust around online dating. This is especially pertinent to the modern dating generation, with nearly a third (28%) of Gen Zs saying being ‘catfished’ is one of their biggest fears.

Nowadays, people are craving more human interaction, with one in three (32%) believing it is key to meeting a successful match. Over a third (36%) prefer to get to know someone in person rather than swiping through hundreds of profiles.

events are much better, not just for finding ‘the one’ but because it’s just a fun night out with your friends, a few drinks and meeting people – Robert Ryall, Date in a Dash

Paul McCrudden, head of marketing at Eventbrite, UK and Ireland, said: “According to our data, face to face dating events are gaining pace rapidly, increasing fivefold over the past four years. Event makers are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to get people to meet. The options are endless, we’ve seen the likes of naked speed dating, silent singles nights and board game events attract immense attention. We are social creatures and while online dating platforms have their place, they will never fully replace basic human interaction.”

Robert Ryall, 34, who runs dating events company, Date In a Dash, comments: “The general feeling I get is that people are just getting sick and tired of d*ck pics and players. ‘IRL’ events are much better, not just for finding ‘the one’ but because it’s just a fun night out with your friends, a few drinks and meeting people. Our bread and butter event is ‘speed dating’ where you’ll meet 20 people in an hour, in 3 minute rounds and we also do some quirky events including the world’s first ‘Naked Dating’ which is fun!”

Jonathan Bradshaw, creator of Meetology and social skills expert agrees: “We are driven by a deep motivation to connect with others and be part of groups and tribes. Search ‘loneliness’ on Google, and you’ll see the mainstream media (as well as the worlds of psychology and sociology) is bursting with articles about the fact so many humans are lonely. We predict that social skills and the ability to meet face-to-face with other human beings are going to become an ever-increasingly important skill.”

“In many ways, mainstream apps are a very unnatural way to meet people. Psychologists have found that having more choices on dating platforms leaves singles less satisfied with the potential partner they end up choosing. Many have linked it to choice overload and the fact that there are so many other options means it is easy to keep moving on to the next and not appreciate the current person.”