New idea for online dating: Talk to each other

Popular sex and relationships website, run by former The Onion president Sean Mills, expanded its online dating service to Philadelphia this week.

“When I looked at the dating world, first briefly as a user but also when I was previously at The Onion, it was interesting to me that, on the one hand, it made so much sense people would meet online,” Mills said. “But the whole story of online dating was dominated by math and science and these really serious attempts to sort of predetermine whether two people are right for each other.”

Rather than using algorithms and questionnaires, Nerve Dating determines compatibility the old-fashioned way — by pairing partners who have shared interests. “The problem people have is starting the first conversation and doing it in a way that feels natural, entertaining and dynamic,” Mills said.

“There didn’t seem to be anything out there for me and my friends, people that live in cities in a culturally active way,” Mills said. “We would meet people in a bar and have conversation about something interesting, but that’s not something any sites focused on, the conversation.”

He said the experience of the site more closely resembles traditional social media outlets than other online dating providers. “One of our most popular features, ‘Last Night,’ just asks, ‘What did you do last night?'” Mills said. “It’s kind of like a check-in and starts introducing you to people who did similar things to start conversations. It also helps build your profile dynamically so you’re not slaving away on it, which nobody wants to do.

“The Web has changed a lot, and I don’t think dating sites have evolved with it.”

What’s trending?

Philadelphia is the sixth city for the site, which launched in early December and has more than 30,000 users.

“It’s really popular with people who are culturally active — obviously Philadelphia is an incredible restaurant town full of smart people with great universities and a great music scene,” Mills said. “It’s such a lively cultural city, and I think we see that really stimulates a lot of conversation.”

“We’re trying to show what the next generation dating site should look like and how it should act.”

Ninety-seven percent of users indicated they had a college or above education.

Most popular films discussed/checked-in last month: “The Artist”, “Shame,” “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”

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