“Mansion in the countryside or penthouse in the city?”
“What was your all-time favorite movie growing up?”
“Were we to someday meet, what would you be wearing that would tell me who you are?”
A new dating app promises to propel users beyond the transactional, hot-or-not Tinder treadmill and the confining clunk of traditional dating sites. If you know dozens of people who’ve tried online dating and none who’ve rhapsodized over any app’s virtues, you may feel too jaded to give it another try.
Then again you may want to take a look at Sweet Pea.
This dating app launches the conversation right away. Who you choose to share that conversation with’s up to you. Like all Tinder-inspired apps, you only have to hear from singles you’ve signaled a mutual interest in.
But anyone browsing your profile also encounters an icebreaker question you’ve concocted. These can range from the simple (i.e. “Cats or dogs?”) to the whimsical (“Would you rather have one wish right now or more wishes three years from now?”) to the gloriously meaningless (“They call them ‘fingers,’ but how come they never fing?”).
You can control who messages whom first, whether you display your distance, whether any mutual friends you have on Facebook appear when someone else views your profile. And a security feature called Hush, designed to block all harassment from your message feed, automatically flags inappropriate words and phrases, its artificial intelligence growing smarter organically.
Sweat Pea is not a hook-up app, but singles have a low-key space where they can broach what they’re looking for upfront. Choices here include “casual dating,” “a serious relationship,” “friendship” and “conversation.”
“I don’t think you’re going to get a better hook-up app than Tinder,” Sweet Pea creator and CEO Michael Bruch acknowledges. Sweet Pea, he says, is a relationship-oriented app.
Bruch envisioned Sweet Pea as a fun coffee shop first meeting, the kind where a warm tingle might percolate in your stomach and set a kaleidoscope of butterflies in flight. In keeping with this theme, he’s integrated options like self-deleting, Snapchat-like photos and video stories.
“People enjoy communicating through video or through any other number of mediums with their friends,” Bruch says. “If you’re a digital, mobile app, why wouldn’t you try to emulate some of that and make communication with strangers richer and more detailed.”
In Sweet Pea, Bruch says he strives to build a community with heart, where quality communication, mutual listening and elevated empathy help to foster healthy relationships. He seeks to build a humanized experience where singles get to feel like more than just selfies.
The app tailors settings for thirty different gender types, allowing ample options for self-identification. This inclusion contrasts with the binary gender options that dominate alternatives like Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel.
And ten percent of the company’s profits will help people escaping and recovering from abusive relationships, benefiting charities like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Loveisrespect and RAINN. These efforts serve to help survivors find refuge and heal. They also work to raise awareness of what Sweet Pea declares a public health crisis.
“Nowadays, especially for younger folks, there’s an expectation that companies are not only going to provide a product or a service,” Bruch says, “but they’re going to contribute to the greater good in some way. Or at least if they do, they’re rewarded for it.”
Bruch feels no one in software’s really stepping up to help improve society, even though companies in other industries are. He also concludes that, of all the competing apps that have emerged, none seem to genuinely excite singles about their search experience.
“I don’t really see these companies that have been around for a long time investing in products that people love,” he says. “They invest a lot in marketing, but they don’t pay enough attention in their products, in my opinion, so I definitely see opportunity in that.”
Bruch believes the human needs of online singles will find a rewarding answer in Sweet Pea.