How do all the best dating app algorithms work?

For years, singles have tried to play with dating apps in their favor or wondered why apps would serve potential matches who are not their type at all.

Dating apps are basically research tools. They use algorithms to make match recommendations using your data, which includes personal information (such as location and age) as well as the preferences you set and your app activity.

Some say dating apps are bad research tools precisely because of algorithms, since romantic relationships are notoriously difficult to predict, and are “micromanagement” meetings. To get better matches, you need to understand how these algorithms work. While not exactly the case, we were able to glean some useful information by digging into the algorithms behind your matches on a few services.

So how do the most popular dating apps work? We’ve broken it down by department below.


Tinder is ubiquitous at this point, boasting 75 million monthly active users, which means that it has regular users of Reddit and the Internet in general are wondering why they can’t get more desirable matches. Is the algorithm “really fucked up” as one Reddit user asked?

The Tinder algorithm was once based on the Elo rating system, which was originally designed to classify chess players. As revealed in a 2019 blog post, Tinder’s algorithm previously used an “Elo score” to gauge how other profiles were interacting with yours. In addition to recording your own Likes (right swipes) and Nopes (left swipes), Tinder has “tagged” you based on how potential matches swiped you as well.

Today, however, according to the Tinder blog, “Elo is old news at Tinder” and the sheet music is no longer in use. The blog post claims that the most important thing a user can do is … use the app. The more you use Tinder, the more data it contains about you, which in theory should help the algorithm learn more about your preferences. The blog post further states that the more time you spend on the app, the more your profile will be seen by potential matches who are also active.

The app’s communications manager, Sophie Sieck, confirmed to Mashable that the blog post is up to date and that Tinder has not made any algorithm changes during the global COVID-19 pandemic. She reiterated that being active on Tinder is the most important factor in knowing who shows up in your “stack”.

Tinder’s current system adjusts who you see whenever your profile is liked or declined, and any changes in the order of potential matches are reflected throughout the day.


Bumble is similar to Tinder in that it uses a sweep pattern. Where it differs is that only women can send a message first, and matches can go away if no one sends a message within 24 hours.

Bumble declined to comment on its search algorithm. There is also no blog post on this subject. When you search for “algorithm” on the Bumble site, the only message that appears concerns Private detector, an algorithm that determines if a match sent you a nude photo.

A Bumble spokesperson told Mashable that anyone users see on the app has been active for the past 30 days – so there is no need to worry about matching inactive accounts. .


The “designed to be deleted” dating app does not have sweeps and does not use the Elo rating system. Logan Ury, director of relationship science at Hinge, told Vice that Hinge uses the Gale-Shapley algorithm. This Nobel Prize-winning algorithm was created to find optimal pairs in “professions” that money cannot buy, such as organ donation.

A research paper in Nature explains how the Gale-Shapley algorithm is used in pairing. Let’s say there are 10 single women and 10 single men. How do they work together? Well, tell a group (men or women) to choose their first choice, and if they are rejected, they move on to their second choice. Continue until none of the remaining people want to be matched.

Ury pointed out – as Tinder did in their blog post – that matching isn’t just about profiles you slide on it. It’s also about how potential matches interact with your profile.

“It’s about pairing up people who are likely to like each other,” Ury said. The more you use Hinge – the more you like other users, interact with profiles, tell the app when you met a match in person – the more the app will understand who interests you.


Should Dating Apps Have Non-Monogamic Filters?

Ok Cupid

OkCupid is an OG dating site that has more robust user profiles than the aforementioned apps. You can list a lot of personal information on OkCupid, with over 4000 questions to choose. You can display your political views with badges, like the last one pro-choice badge – and there is 60 sexual orientation and gender options also.

Unlike other apps, OkCupid calculates a match percentage with other users to see how compatible you are. OkCupid did not respond to Mashable’s request for comment on the algorithm, but he does have a blog post on how he mthe attachment percentage is calculated.

Basically, if another user has search preferences and answers to questions similar to yours, and is looking for the same things in terms of a relationship, you will have a high match percentage. You can see someone’s match percentage with you on their profile.


Grindr, a queer dating and dating app, predates Tinder as one of the first apps to use location data to match people.

According to a blog post, Grindr only uses algorithms for security purposes, such as the detection of spam accounts.

Grindr confirmed to Mashable via a spokesperson that he only uses AI and automated decision-making (a sort of algorithm) for purposes such as spotting spam accounts. (Although, as stated in the blog post, this process is not perfect and sometimes spam does pass.)

So how does Grindr come up with matches to meet? When a user searches for people nearby, indicates the post, the app displays other users who were online that day, and applies user preference filters (such as age and status). relationship) and sorts everyone by distance.

“Sometimes a little randomness is added to keep the results up to date. That’s all,” the Grindr blog said. “There is no actual recommendation algorithm on Grindr today.”

For proprietary reasons, these apps will probably never reveal all of their algorithmic secrets. But while we can’t control an app’s search results, we still control the most important factor in our matches: how we swipe.

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