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A return to slow dating? New app uses expert (human) matchmakers to hand-pick dates for users

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Amy Swales
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Before online dating, there were dating agencies where an actual real-life human person would sift through piles of profiles by hand in the hope of matching a pair for life. Shocking, we know.

Now a new free dating app aims to reconcile that concept with technology by having experts hand-pick matches and send one direct to a user's phone or tablet every 24 hours.

Adhering to the idea of quality over quantity, the Once app aims to cater to those tired of swiping a constant stream of selfies or dissatisfied with automatic matches generated by websites.

once dating app

Users are sent one hand-picked match every 24 hours, and have 24 hours to respond

According to the makers of the app, a shortlist of 20 matches from the Once database is selected for each user by an algorithm, then it's left to a fellow human being to choose the best match to send through each day.

The user can accept and initiate a chat or decline and wait for the next day's match.

Founder and CEO Jean Meyer says it's designed to place the emphasis on slow dating rather than the sometimes overwhelming choice of apps such as Tinder, telling Stylist.co.uk: “I was once on a business trip to South Korea when I saw the concept of a dating app which had the ‘one match per day’ idea. It was only available in that country.

“It really resonated with me, and was so refreshing when compared to all the other dating apps out there that focus on numbers rather than quality. It avoids embarrassment and gives the person the attention they deserve. I then decided to bring this concept to Europe and the UK with Once.”

He added: “People are fed up with having to just sit and swipe through hundreds of people in the hope that they might find one person who they like and then start a conversation with. With Once, we’re taking that responsibility on ourselves and are hand-picking great people for London’s time-starved daters.”

phone online dating

Once is a different concept to apps such as Tinder

Matches are based on criteria the user specifies (such as interests, appearance or religious belief) and the app also claims to eliminate fake profiles and spam by verifying every user on its database. The team of matchmakers is currently 33 strong, though will increase as the amount of users increase.

Users can also pay for extra features, such as rewinding to a match previously declined and sending ‘charms’ to matches they like the look of.

The app launched in France a few weeks ago, and Meyer tells Stylist.co.uk the response has been positive so far. “In Paris, the pickup has been great. We have 150,000 users in less than a month and it is currently growing at a rate faster than Happn or Tinder in France. People seem to really like the fact that they're not bombarded by users and they get to build a real connection with someone.”

once dating app

Julia was clearly a little startled by the thought of trained matchmakers

Once is available all over the UK (though the majority of users are currently in London) and can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices.

Images: Thinkstock, Once

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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.

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