Editor’s note: This story pairs with “Dating apps can present predatory dangers to users”
Melanie Washburn had been home from her LDS mission for three months, and the dating scene wasn’t looking bright.
“Guys don’t ask girls out in person anymore, and it was frustrating,” said Washburn, a Utah Valley University student.
So Washburn decided to try out Mutual after listening to the advice of her sister, who was engaged to a man she met on an app.
The dating app for LDS singles
Washburn said at first she didn’t want to use a dating app, but eventually she “caved” to her sister’s encouragement and decided to use Mutual because she felt it was safer than Tinder.
Mutual is a dating app specifically for Mormon singles looking to date other Mormons. It runs similarly to the popular dating app Tinder, with a more specific demographic and small differences such as swiping up or down instead of right or left on a person’s picture.
“We built Mutual to help Latter-day Saints meet their eternal companion,” said Cooper Boice, Mutual’s president and founder.
Boice said the app currently has more than 150,000 users across the world, with the highest concentration of users found in Utah, Arizona, California and Idaho.
“We started Mutual just two years ago, and there’s already been hundreds of marriages,” Boice said. “That’s definitely the best part of the job.”
Washburn’s success story
Washburn went on a handful of dates with men she met over Mutual before meeting her current boyfriend, Ryan Wilkey.
“He came and got me from my house and was bombarded by my family at the front door,” Washburn said. “We went and got some food and were able to just talk and get to know each other. We really connected.”
Washburn said one of the main things they connected over was their missions.
“I was still fresh, so that’s what I was comfortable talking about,” she said. “The hours flew by and the date ended, and it just took off from there. Couple of days later we went on a hike and haven’t stopped seeing each other since.”
Washburn later found out Wilkey was also pushed by a sibling to try Mutual.
“He was lucky, though — I was his first and last Mutual date,” she said.
Washburn said though she wishes finding a date could still be more traditional, dating apps don’t have to take away all the traditional aspects of dating. She said Wilkey called her to set up their date, opens her doors and walks her to and from her house.
“I think it’s just a good way to meet a variety of guys and possibly find the right fit for you,” she said.
Featured in the New York Times
Boice said one of his favorite Mutual success stories was recently featured in the New York Times.
The article, titled “Headfirst With a Helmet, and Headlong Without,” featured Olympian hopeful Courtney Webb and her husband, Ryan Spencer, who married in February after meeting on Mutual.
Webb, who joined the LDS Church in 2015, is training to qualify as a skeleton athlete at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.
According to the article, Spencer graduated from BYU with an economics degree and met Webb over the dating app while visiting New York, where Webb was living at the time.
While the majority of the app’s users are concentrated in the U.S., Boice said LDS singles from more than 100 countries use Mutual.
Boice, who served a Spanish-speaking LDS mission in South America, said his worldwide vision for the app was inspired by the people he met while serving.
“A girl told us there was nobody for her to date within 100 miles, and I was going to BYU before my mission and had never even thought about that,” Boice said. “What would you do if there’s no members your age in the area? Thinking about stuff like that was one of the biggest reasons for creating Mutual.”
Boice said he plans to make the app available in Spanish and Portuguese soon.