If you play Call of Duty, you may be aware of an online ecosystem rich with “cheats” — shortcuts that players circulate to capitalize on the game’s glitches and thwart some of its toughest obstacles.
Something similar exists among those swiping for love on dating apps. In the past year, Ali Jackson, a 36-year-old dating coach in Brooklyn, has been struck by how many people have come to her asking about “hacks” they have seen online, which they believe will help them overcome barriers between their profiles and true love.
These are not really tips for dating but for outmaneuvering dating apps. On TikTok and Reddit, users recommend deactivating and reactivating your account, rejecting a string of attractive profiles or temporarily switching your location to a different city. Each of these moves, proponents say, could scramble the app’s algorithm into offering the user better options.
“It’s like trying to give your dating life a colonic,” said Lakshmi Rengarajan, a former director at Match Group and the host of “The Later Dater Today” podcast. “Like, how do I clean this out?”
Trying to find shortcuts to romantic bliss is a time-honored tradition, but the emergence of dating apps just over a decade ago brought new promise — and new grievances. Dating app founders pitched their products as wingmen capable of winnowing suitors down based on compatibility with the help of powerful algorithms (a claim that was met with plenty of skepticism at the time).
Many of us have only gotten less friendly toward algorithms in the decade since. As algorithmic recommendations have filtered into almost every facet of our digital lives, some dating app users have grown increasingly suspicious of the hidden mechanisms that influence their dating lives. Burned out from swiping, they are eyeing the platforms that have kept some users engaged for as long as most fifth graders have been alive.