Today, The New York Times wrote about our new project, HowAboutWe for Couples. The article, “A Dating Site For Married Couples,” is an awesome introduction. But we wanted to tell you more. Here, HowAboutWe.com co-founders Brian and Aaron talk about the next step in the HowAboutWe family. Sign up now at www.howaboutwe.com/couples.
Running a dating site is a bit of a paradox. For the site to work, you need people. But when the site works, the people leave. Customers find matches and stop being customers. Couples don’t need to date any more. Or do they?
This was a nagging concern for us on April 1, 2010, when we launched HowAboutWe.com, a new kind of dating site that we felt would help people meet online without having to, well, “date online,” a process we and most of our friends found tedious (and, let’s be honest, lame). But we wanted better dating lives and believed the Internet should help.
We knew that online dating didn’t have to involve endless questionnaires, dubious algorithms, generic profiles, and tacky brands. We were two single guys, and we wanted to go on dates, not tool around on the Internet for hours at a time. There had to be a way to make online dating fun, easy and effective.
Then came our eureka moment: let members pitch dates — not themselves. A site where you’d just say “How about we…” and fill in the dots with the date you want to go on. A date idea, like “How about we go see Shakespeare in the Parking Lot?” (the date that led to the first HowAboutWe engagement), would be an ideal way to get a meaningful digital first impression and have a natural starting point for a conversation that’s geared towards getting offline, on a great date, where there’s a chance of experiencing real chemistry.
Now, two years and nearly one million HowAboutWe date ideas later, we’re thrilled to see that the site really does match the dating ethos of our generation. We want a site that is more like a traveling companion than a worried doctor. Traditional sites treat singleness like a problem to cure, not an experience to have. This is a pre-millenial view of singlehood.
Our parents were already married with kids by the time they were 30, while we continue to wait for the right relationship. In 1960, 72% percent of 30-year-olds were married, compared to 52% in 2008. And as we hold off on marriage, we view dating as an opportunity. This alone makes dating more important than ever for millennials. We’re doing a lot of it, and we’re expecting more from it.
Our generation has not warmed up to the concept of “settling down.” We want exciting, vibrant lives full of new experiences, cultivated tastes and lasting adventures. Dating fits into all of this perfectly. Dating lets singles “try on” different kinds of relationships and, as an extension, identities. And, as relationships begin to materialize into meaningful connections, dating helps new people suss out their compatibility. We aren’t looking for breadwinners and homemakers; we’re looking for partners with whom we can create unique and meaningful lives. We’re delighted to see that HowAboutWe is helping people find this.
So here we are. HowAboutWe is transforming an activity that’s traditionally considered a last resort of sorts into an awesome part of being single. We have an amazing team in Brooklyn that’s dedicated to helping people enjoy the process of finding love.
And with success, we’ve started to brace ourselves for the inevitable repercussion, that nagging paradox of the online dating site: users deactivating their profiles once they’re coupled-up. But we’re realizing there’s a way to build upon these romantic successes. A promising opportunity keeps coming up, as we get more and more comments like these:
“I love your site. My boyfriend and I visit it all the time to get date ideas.”
“I need help finding ideas for my Thursday date nights.”
Our favorite: “We met on HowAboutWe, and we still open our Daily Date emails to decide what we’ll do on the weekend.”
Over the past year, an understanding of HowAboutWe’s potential began to take root. When you enter coupledom, you stop looking for a partner, but you don’t stop dating. There remains a problem to solve for HowAboutWe success stories and millions of other couples. Posed as a question, if you get into an amazing relationship, how do you keep it going?
Or, more specifically, how do you answer the perennial question, “Honey, what should we do tonight?”And as it turns out, the past two years were big ones for us personally: we both entered serious relationships. More and more of our friends are in the same situation or are married. We’re realizing through our business and our personal lives the desire people have for great dates.
The answer has become astoundingly clear to us. HowAboutWe Couples: a site designed to help people in relationships have incredible, love-sustaining dating lives.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past two years it’s this: dates matter. Dates are powerful. A great date can be the spark of something magical between two lovers. A great dating life can play an essential role in a lasting love affair. And it takes time to create — researching spots, making reservations, getting a babysitter, making the time, etc. The HowAboutWe Couples product will take the hard work out the process by creating a fun and easy way for people to go on the best dates they’ve ever had.
Not only does this make sense for our business, it makes sense for our generation. A record 49% of American adults are single, and the number is rising steadily. But marriage is still something people want. Ninety-five percent of college grads say they’d like to get married some day. But when marriage is a choice, the expectations are higher.
Adults in committed relationships want their love lives to be good. If we feel like our relationship is stale or rote, we’re out. While we may desire monogamy, we fear monotony. The solution? Well, hard work, certainly. But also: hard play, aka: dating. Stellar dates that ignite and sustain chemistry.
And when we say chemistry, we’re not being metaphorical. As Aaron’s mom (a doctor) loves to remind us, there’s an actual scientific explanation for exactly why HowAboutWe works. When you do something out of the ordinary with someone — when you’re surprised, when you laugh, when you learn and get engaged — your body releases dopamine and norepinephrine, chemicals that bond you to the person you’re with. In other words, great dates lead to actual chemistry.
Why should holding hands during Shakespeare in the Parking Lot be a pleasure reserved for the newly-dating? Why can’t a long-term partner experience the same butterflies upon meeting her lover at a new bar for a drink? Simply put, it can. Through interviews with hundreds of couples and staying connected to HowAboutWe success stories, not to mention observing the ebbs and flows of our own relationships, we know this.
And here’s the magical thing about dates: eventually, the dates add up. You and your significant other go from having a great date (singular), to having a great life. That’s how to make relationships in 2012 last.We’re opening initial sign-ups now for our product launch later this year.
We’re starting things off by giving away amazing date experiences. The first one will be 3 nights free at a luxury resort in Cancun, courtesy of Jetsetter.
We’re convinced that, just as HowAboutWe Singles is a fun and easy way to go on great dates, for people looking for a relationship, HowAboutWe Couples will help couples absolutely love being in love. Sign-up now at www.howaboutwe.com/couples.