Gen Z is deleting dating apps. Here's what Utah-based app Mutual is trying

Generation Z wants to find love, but they're dissatisfied with digital options. Mutual, a dating app for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is hoping to change that.

Generation Z wants to find love, but they're dissatisfied with digital options. Mutual, a dating app for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is hoping to change that. (Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock)

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LEHI — Believe it or not, Generation Z is tired of scrolling — especially if it's on a dating app.

Recent reports suggest online dating has fallen out of favor with 20-somethings, who say they would prefer to meet potential romantic partners in person.

There are a lot of reasons for user burnout: safety concerns, misleading profiles, ghosting and more.

And it seems Gen Z is particularly ill-equipped for dating apps — or for dating at all. The dating app Hinge recently released a study of its Gen Z users, which showed almost half have little to no dating experience, and they are 47% more likely than millennial users to say the pandemic made them nervous talking to new people.

This social anxiety intensifies when coupled with the popular Gen Z belief that there's only one soulmate for each person. Consider these statistics in the context of a burgeoning loneliness epidemic, and you've got some serious dating app ennui on your hands.

Utah-based dating app Mutual is trying to make the online experience more positive for Gen Z users.

"Burnout is something every dating app is dealing with — and not just dating apps," Mutual President Michael Patterson said. "People are spending too much time on their phones."

People are feeling burned out from social media, the overwhelming amount of information available online and not enough time outside, Patterson said. Throw a dating app into the digital mix, and of course you're going to see user burnout.

"Gen Z needs a solution that is more efficient," Patterson said. In his view, apps lose their way when they forget that their purpose is to be an asset, not a time-waster.

Swiping through profiles on a dating app can be time-consuming — especially when every profile feels like a puzzle you need to decode.

To streamline swiping, Mutual requires that all users be verified to reduce safety concerns. The company has also added features like "shared traits" and a profile redesign that asks users to input a little more personal information.

When thinking about burnout, Patterson said it's also important to remember that for most people, dating is cyclical. It's common for users to be active on Mutual for a month or two, then step away for a while — whether that's because they started dating someone, or because they just want a break. Over the course of several years, many users will come back to the app multiple times in brief bursts of activity.

That was the case for Chloe Tolson, who first got Mutual for a few months during her freshman year of college. She took a break for a couple of years, then redownloaded the app in 2023 — this time, it only took three weeks of swiping to meet her now-husband.

"I think they (dating apps) are definitely an effective way if you have an open mind about it," she said. "They definitely don't always lead to long-term relationships, but I feel like I was very lucky mine did."

For others, dating apps can be an exhausting juggle. "It took so much energy and time to keep up with it," Mutual user Robyn Watson said.

Watson didn't like swiping based on snap judgments, which were often wrong — she usually ended up going out with people who weren't her type. It was "a lot of first dates," she said.

Gen Z needs a solution that is more efficient.

– Michael Patterson, Mutual president

In response to users like Watson, Mutual is rolling out a new speed-dating feature that will compress the "sometimes exhausting experience" of waiting for a match or a reply, Patterson said. Users have the option to join a 15-minute online session, where they can message back and forth with people they're interested in for five minutes each.

"At the end of it, you can decide if you want to keep talking to that person or move on," Patterson said.

At the end of the day, Mutual's biggest edge is probably its niche demographic, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For some users, the app is the only place they can go to meet people with similar values — burnout or not.

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Emma Everett Johnson covers Utah as a general news reporter. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University.


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