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Sunday 1 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# future stories
Bye-bye bad chat-up lines, hello online flirting assistants: Here's what the future of dating looks like
Romance is about to become more tech-heavy than ever. Hear more in our new podcast.

FUTURE STORIES IS a monthly podcast from and Volkswagen. This month, we’re looking ahead to the future of dating – and the tech that could change how you meet your perfect match.

Tracy Tough hears about the growing popularity of virtual dating assistants, who’ll take over your online dating profiles and flirt with potential matches on your behalf (for a fee).

Plus, what if your next date was with someone’s avatar – and you still got a kiss at the end of the night? Advances in virtual reality mean you might soon be able to see, hear and even touch your date without being in the same room as them. 

Around 57 million people have Tinder on their smartphones, and the app registers over one billion “swipes” per day. That’s just one dating app out there, of course: Happn has around 12 million users, and Plenty Of Fish has seven million, according to the BBC.

But are dating apps the only way forward, or is the future a little more varied than that?

While the popularity of online dating doesn’t look set to wane, you may not need to dedicate hours to sifting through potential matches and engaging in small talk – because someone else can do that part for you.

Journalist Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin previously worked as a virtual dating assistant for a US company, spending her days flirting online for her client list, setting up dates and getting the small talk out of the way. As she explains in the new episode of Future Stories:

A client will go through an intake interview and supply tidbits of information about themselves. Then they’re assigned a “closer”. That was me. The closer’s job is to log into their dating accounts and flirt with people on their behalf.

To make those initial chats easier, closers can use manuals featuring opening lines and conversation starters about everything from pets to politics.

While it’s definitely an alternative for time-poor daters, Chloe notes that using a dating assistant takes some of the randomness and charm out of a traditional romance. 

So much of romance is random and taking risks and being vulnerable. This company protects the client from making mistakes, and essentially protects them from romance… I hope that young people move back to meeting people in person instead of online in these oversimplified manners.

Elsewhere in this month’s episode, Tracy hears from Jen Wong of Guerilla Science UK, an events company offering “sensory speed dating” nights. Participants are blindfolded, so are forced to lean on other senses like hearing, touch or even scent to decide if they like someone.

Plus, she speaks to one of Ireland’s only traditional matchmakers, Willie Daly, about what he sees for the future of romance.

Hear more on Future Stories. The new episode is live right now:

Journal Media / SoundCloud

Listen to it on Soundcloud here. Or click-through to be taken to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Audioboom.

More: Mirrors that track wrinkles and lipstick that never runs out: Hear about the future of doing your makeup>

More: Sick of doing the dishes? Ask the dishes to do themselves: Here’s what the future of cleaning up looks like>

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