We’re at the height of a global technological revolution, and yet this is the modern state of dating: You swipe left, swipe left again, and again, and again—in fact, you mind-numbingly swipe left so many times that when the app finally lands on a person you deem worthy of swiping right, you accidentally swipe left on them, too. You continue swiping.
My thumbs are bloody with disappointment that dating apps, once the face of innovation, have become relics of the status quo. But I’ve seen the light on the horizon in the form of generative AI programs like ChatGPT. These have now been crowned the virtual assistant of the future—so why shouldn’t we use it for dating, which most people already describe as a second job?
AI can put the fun back into dating—but we can’t expect the end result to change if we don’t let go of our preconceived notions of what meeting and talking to partners should look like.
I was inspired by a viral TikTok of a self-described “Tinder veteran” who used ChatGPT to write pickup lines for his matches. He instructed the bot to write a “love poem about climbing a tree that is a metaphor for a 6-foot girl,” and, according to him, it secured the bag. Naturally, some commenters praised his cleverness, and others considered it a warning sign for the dishonesty to come.
But the point is that AI can create a culture that accelerates the tedious initial process of online dating and doesn’t get hung up on introductions. How many more “What’s up?” are you willing to answer? It can provide relevant icebreakers while still maintaining intimacy in conversation, because it’s up to users to take comedic relief or mutual interests and form a connection. The people pearl-clutching over AI pickup lines are ignoring the fact that AI helping you construct an attention-grabbing bio or introduction won’t take away the necessary steps to form a bond. I don’t think many people have fallen head over heels for a clever pickup line alone.
After all, whenever someone buys a Hallmark card, they also outsource a romantic message to woo another. And just as most people are still inclined to write personalized messages on the cards, the people on both sides of the app will continue the real conversation once the ice has been broken. It’s always more fun to participate than to serve as a spectator.
It’s true that the handwriting on cards makes it obvious to distinguish what words were penned from the heart versus from a third party. But I’d argue that AI levels the playing field between wordsmiths (often players) and people who have all the right feelings that they can’t ever seem to put into words. You wouldn’t get upset if a partner shared a joke they heard from someone else or their favorite lyric from a love song. And there’s always an instruction behind every AI action, so the idea, and the intent, still belongs to the human.
Not to mention that many folks already put their most embellished foot forward online to attract attention from partners. Using AI-generated poetry or messages to flirt is more likely to be a part of an existing trend than the catalyst for a lack of transparency in dating.
It might seem cumbersome to consult an AI for every introduction, but the objective is to do it on interactions you feel stuck on. The aforementioned poem was actually not Tinder Veteran’s first message, but he sent it after his introduction failed to garner much of a response from the other side. It livened up a conversation that was headed to limbo. The cleverness of the prompts will provide insight into the person.
Rather than considering AI the possible “replacement” of anything—whether it be romance or your job—it’ll behoove you to think about it like a foundation you can build on. I’m talking about more than just flirtatious banter, but about potential tools like AI-generated memes that can be customized to your unique conversations. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, you’ll save a lot of chatter while getting your point across.
Let’s face it: You might undoubtedly be attracted to someone and still have no idea how to initiate a conversation. What I found most exhausting about Tinder was how many of my matches never made it past the first few exchanges of messages. It seemed like neither side knew what to say to take it to the phase of making plans, and so I kept living in the groundhog day of “Not much, you?” I love how creative AI allows you to be, leading to more engaging encounters and less swiping.
The goal is not to take our personalities out of dating, but to reimagine how we interact. As instant messenger once ruled the world until it was replaced by FaceTime (which is arguably now being shoved aside by voice notes), it’s normal, healthy, and necessary for our communication methods to evolve over time. So that begs the question of how modern singles feel about AI becoming their modern wingman.
OkCupid surveyed 30,000 of its users about AI-generated pickup lines and, according to the company’s communications director Michael Kaye, more than seven in 10 daters believe that using AI to create your profile or message others is considered a violation of trust. However, daters who think ChatGPT is a “lifesaver” get almost 40 percent more matches on OkCupid than those who think it’s “too big brother.”
It’s important to take a step back and analyze: If AI is measurably benefiting singles who use it, then why are you opposed to joining them? Listen, I get it. I was part of the last wave to transfer to Facebook from Myspace, then Instagram, and I am still not on TikTok. Innovation seems more complicated until we actually try it, and as we age, we’re naturally going to be cynical about new “norms.”
Before continuing to feign disgust at the integration of AI into your romantic life, let’s make clear that the union happened long ago across all social platforms in one way or another. Automation and AI-generated content doesn’t mean that an era of extreme laziness and impersonation is upon us. By normalizing this behavior, we can free people from writing a thousand introductory messages, giving them more energy to focus on the humans on the other side.
Yes, it falls within the realm of deception if people pass on AI-generated lingo as their own, but that’s why it’s vital to create a standard of disclosure. And I imagine that as daters get more inventive with their prompts and the content gravitates more visually, it will become clearer what’s been channeled from an AI wingman. And I’d like to clarify that using an AI to perfect your profile is the same as folks who have all their friends approve theirs, except one option leaves you with more privacy and less effort.
My vision for dating doesn’t just embolden interactions; I also believe AI should be used to expedite landing an in-person meeting. Countless people turn to dating apps when they’re bored, unintentionally cockblocking those looking to meet that evening. Despite many apps embracing software to improve the matching process, they need to take it to the next level to give control of it to the user in nuanced detail.
Imagine if you could instruct an in-app AI wingman to swipe for you, specifying non-negotiables, what types of relationships you’re open to, and what interests to prioritize, even if to request a date upon matching. Better than someone “liking” you back would be receiving a note saying, “You’re both open to an in-person date this weekend.” It would make finding a last-minute Valentine’s Day rendezvous to get over your ex much easier.
People who don’t like the idea of AI playing matchmaker should ask themselves: What matters most, meeting someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with or who set you up? I’m not saying you shouldn’t have the option to take the reins when you please. No one is stopping you from meeting partners outside of this sphere.
A common fear about implementing AI in dating apps is that it will further dehumanize them to the point of no return. But I think we need to give ourselves—and our humanity—a bit more credit that a machine won’t be able to fall in love better than us. After all, isn’t that a dance that requires two beating hearts?
The future of dating is already at our doorsteps, and many people are already willing to open the door if the possibility of love is on the other side. According to the OkCupid survey, 36 percent of the 30,000 users surveyed said they wouldn’t continue talking to someone who admitted to first communicating with them via an AI-based bot, but interestingly, 46 percent of them weren’t sure, and 18 percent said yes.
It’s human instinct to rebel against what you fear or can’t predict, and nothing has been scaring or confusing folks more than AI’s looming implications in their lives. But again, it’s not unlike the initial skepticism and gradual acceptance of most of what eventually comprises society. The internet was once branded a trend. Oral sex used to be considered taboo by our parents.
Even if AI succeeds in making dating fun again by providing a more seamless experience (pun intended), it won’t eradicate the nuances of dating in real life. As the tale goes, you must be willing to kiss frogs to find your prince or princess. But at least you’ll skip dragging your feet through the swamp.