Mutual presents solutions for dating struggles

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A young couple talks together while on a date. Many Latter-day Saint young adults use the dating app Mutual to meet other people for dates. (Brooke Christensen)

Amid the more than 1,500 dating apps and sites, Mutual has become a popular dating app across BYU campus.

The dating app is targeted toward members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, allowing users to share whether or not they have served as missionaries for the Church, their church attendance and their temple recommend status.

Mutual has a fairly even ratio between male and female users, with 52% male users and 48% female users — contrasting dating app Tinder’s ratio of 75% male users and 25% female users.

BYU family life professor Chelom Leavitt studies the variables that create healthy relationships. She said dating apps may not be as popular with women because of how the apps center around physical appearance.

“Women take into account the emotions, the intellect, all sorts of things in addition to the physical appearance,” Leavitt said. She pointed out that women tend to focus more on the textual elements in men’s profiles, whereas men tend to focus more on the pictures.

Mutual employees say they prioritize feedback from their users. Individuals can visit feedback.mutual.app to vote on others’ suggestions or make their own. (feedback.mutual.app)

To better suit these tendencies, Mutual employees recently updated the app to mix in prompt answers alongside the photos as users scroll through someone’s profile. Since this update, women have swiped up more frequently on men’s profiles, according to Michael Patterson, Mutual’s chief technology officer.

Patterson said he describes the app as “your wingman.” Their goal is to make dating easier for the Latter-day Saint community.

According to Patterson, Mutual has made user feedback a priority. The Mutual team has weekly virtual calls to discuss how they can improve the app. Administrator accounts on Mutual also invite users to discuss their feedback for the company.

Mutual also has a website where users can make suggestions of changes they would like to see on the app. These suggestions can be voted on, and if they attract enough attention, the Mutual team will consider them.

Though dating apps have proven to be successful for many people, some still experience frustration with them.

“If you’re thinking, ‘This is the answer, this is the cure all for my dating problems,’ you’re gonna be disappointed because dating is work,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt said young adults are often too easily discouraged by dead ends, and should take these dead ends as opportunities to learn more about what they want.

“We have to be a little bit like scientists as we go about this dating process and say, ‘Hey, I really loved her sense of humor, but her values didn’t match up with mine. I’m starting to really prioritize what is meaningful to me.'”

Mutual recently introduced a new speed dating feature. Users participating in a session of speed dating have the ability to invite each other to have a five minute conversation. At the end of the conversation they can decide if they want to stay “matched” or not.

BYU student Skyler Ludlow said he likes the speed dating feature because it helps the process move along faster.

“Even if people aren’t interested, at least you get the knowledge that they’re not interested so you can move on mentally or emotionally,” Ludlow said.

Leavitt said she believes it is important to focus more on having meaningful conversations.

“I think sometimes we give up on getting to know somebody a little too quickly,” Leavitt said. “Maybe they were feeling anxiety, maybe it was just a bad day — all sorts of reasons why maybe you need to give it a second try or maybe even a third try.”

Though Patterson said he believes dating apps are a great opportunity to meet people, he suggested young single adults should always keep their options open and utilize all the opportunities they have to meet people.

“It can be hard but I think the outcome of being able to form a relationship with other people is what should be the drive,” Tyler Aston, Mutual’s director of product, said.

Aston said he wants people to know even though dating apps, and dating in general, can be frustrating at times, the end result is worth it.

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