The League — the dating app that vets potential members with a resume-focused admissions process — launched in Boston Wednesday.
After years of casually swiping right in hopes of making a connection, singles must apply to join The League, and only the most accomplished and ambitious are able to join the service.
Sounds elitist, right? The founders prefer another term: “equalist.”
Their goal is to match up the most successful singles. That means applicants must have a good education, perhaps some titles, and proof that they’re driven in their careers. Then The Leaguedetermines who makes the cut.
The app launched in San Francisco two years ago, followed by New York City and Los Angeles. Amanda Bradford, founder of The League, says Boston already has 2,000 users who signed up for the app in anticipation of the local launch, Oct. 26. Though today is the official start date here, The League hosted a party for early adopters during the Forbes Under 30 Summit last week. Singles mingled at The Liberty Hotel and posed with signs that said, “Hands That Touch Tinder Shall Not Touch Ours.”
“Some of the people at the party said they’ve been waiting for two years for the launch,” Bradford said.
Since its inception, The League has faced criticism about exclusivity and its vetting process. A student at Stanford (Bradford’s alma mater) wrote a post on Facebook, calling the app elitist and asked, “Does it even cross your mind that you are endorsing the idea that wealth, class and privilege determine a person’s character?”
Buzzfeed’s Jarry Lee and Brett S. Vergara went to a party hosted by The League in the Hamptons in 2015, and criticized the lack of diversity in the group. “[E]very guy around me looked like the kind of dude that picked on me for not being so great at kickball in middle school,” Vergara wrote.
Bradford has responded to these criticisms, and maintains that the app includes a diverse group of users who happen to share the same drive for success. Bradford said she used to be tentative about saying the site was only for college grads and the most successful singles, but she says she embraces the mission.
“I think it’s one of those things where if you actually think about how you [find a partner], you’ll realize that a lot of it stems from university and where you work,” she said. “Both of those are curated environments that include applications.”
She says there shouldn’t be shame in wanting a person who has similar goals.
“I think that’s OK. It’s OK to say that’s what you’re looking for.”
At a time when many successful women make more money than the people they date, The League narrows the dating pool to those who are interested in — and open to — women whose resumes and ambition match their own. (The implication there is that those heterosexual men are not always easy to find.)
Asked how she maintains diversity on the app, Bradford said she seeks it out. The League asks its community “ambassadors” to invite their friends. She said she wants the makeup of the site to reflect the city.
“We made sure that the LGBT [community] on the app reflected the actual Boston community, and we wanted to accept that proportion, if not higher.”
The League looks to fill all gaps, she promises. For instance, in New York City, she says she doesn’t see enough artists on the app, so staffers are reaching out to the Broadway community. Bradford said she also wants to make sure people who work in the nonprofit world are represented.
Those who visit The League app in Boston will be asked to fill out a profile. League staffers then review applicants’ answers — along with their Facebook and LinkedIn resumes and connections — and decide whether they’re app-worthy. Users stay on a waitlist until they’re deemed ready, and are given tips on how to move up the list.
The app’s philosophy is the opposite of competitors that aim to introduce singles to people they’re connected to through social networks. The League separates members from anyone who’s a first-degree connection on social media. Bradford said the point is for singles to find people they’ve never seen before.
League members get a short list of singles to choose from each day.
“It’s the opposite of overwhelming. Instead of having that unlimited supply, there’s a set amount every day,” said Bradford, who has compiled some statistics about the first pool of Boston daters on The League. Three percent of the 2,000 members work for management consulting firm Bain & Co. Nine percent live in Telegraph Hill in South Boston. A full 10 percent went to Harvard.
“I actually think Boston has the potential to be our best because it is the home of the ambitious and driven intellectuals,” Bradford said. “People come to Boston from all over the world to do everything from academic to medical to tech. These people are probably walking right by each other and just not going to the same places.”Meredith Goldstein writes the advice column Love Letters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.