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Students say they used the Mutual LDS Dating app to meet people during the pandemic

Graphic of two phones the one of the left with a blue screen and a man wearing a button down shirt and mask and the one on the right pink background with woman wearing a shirt and skirt and mask with small hearts and text outlines around them.

BYU–Hawaii students shared how they utilize Mutual - the LDS Dating app - as a form of entertainment amidst social distancing protocols. They said online dating has become one of the few outlets for social interaction during the pandemic.

Mutual is an app created in 2016 to open the door of online dating to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Users “match” with others according to their own personal preferences, by swiping up to “like” or down to “dislike” a profile. They can make judgments based on photos and short biographies.

Truman Tipton, a junior majoring in graphic design from Arizona, said he joined Mutual after some convincing by his friends. “My friends thought it would be fun, and they wanted to set me up with someone,” he said. Setting up the account was easy because his friends did all the work, he explained.

Sophie Hendrix, a freshman majoring in psychology from Colorado, compared the set-up to a job application.

“It was kind of weird because it was a little like advertising yourself,” Hendrix said. The account requires photos, a personal biography and other information about yourself such as height, if and where people served a mission, and an option to include their interests.

In addition, users select how wide their search for dates can be, from 5 miles to anywhere in the world. “It was kind of weird, but I’ve applied for jobs, so it kind of felt like that,” Hendrix added. She said her and her roommate, Tagen Ririe, a freshman majoring in biology from Idaho, downloaded the app during their 14-day quarantine.

“We were bored,” Hendrix said. “We really had nothing to do.” However, after their 14 days were up, they continued to peruse and chat with people through the app. Ririe and Hendrix have their accounts set to search for people from anywhere in the world and are able to chat with people from any location.

Chatting with people around the, Hendrix said, “It’s more low stakes because you’re probably never going to meet them in real life.” Ririe said the decision to have a wider search radius is she is not looking for anything serious.

Being new to the app, Tipton said he has not had the opportunity to go on any dates yet. Hendrix and Ririe said they were able to go on a group date after meeting someone on the app, but the pandemic makes it difficult to set anything up, Ririe added.

The biggest difficulty is maintaining consistent communication, Ririe said. If the conversation is dry on the app, once they share numbers or social media handles, the conversation is not going to get any better, Ririe explained.

“Generally, if they’re matching my energy or my vibe then I’ll probably give them my Snapchat.” More times than not she said she stops responding to people. This can be an effective way to end a conversation, but some reactions can be strange, Ririe added.

Hendrix explained, “A couple of guys have said kind of weird, creepy things.” Most of them are making a joke, she added, but how quickly she responds depends on how long she has been talking to someone.

Ririe said some of the people she has talked to get offended if she stops responding. Recently, Hendrix has been taking screen shots each of these experiences and posts then to her private Snapchat story because she finds it entertaining, she said.

Student said using Mutual as a legitimate relationship resource is another question altogether. “It’s apparently a valid option nowadays, but I prefer getting to know somebody in person,” Tipton said.

Similarly, Hendrix said she is waiting for the campus to open back up for more social events so she can start to meet people face to face. “I’ve made a lot of friends out here. … But right now [dating] is not very important to me. I think it will be more important once the school opens up more and there are more people.”