Swipe right for your spouse: BYU students using hookup app Tinder to make matches that stick

First Published      Last Updated Oct 02 2015 10:36 pm

At BYU, the app has a reputation for romance.

Andrew Luna was about ready to break it off with Tinder.

"I wanted to use it to meet girls, take them on dates," he said, "and find someone I wanted to marry."

But after a few years of searching, the engineering major could only check the first two boxes. He stopped making much of an effort, but nevertheless used the smartphone app in December to send a winking emoticon to Gloria, a transfer student he had never met.

The young woman surprised him by asking if he had finished his final exams — demonstrating more interest than others with whom he had struck a "match."

About eight months later, the two Brigham Young University students wed in the temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the bride's hometown of Gilbert, Ariz.

And they are not alone. At BYU, the location-based app is a modern matchmaker, helping many to meet and later wed.

Some celebrate nuptials before receiving diplomas from the school, where one in four students is married.

The company's wholesome identity on the Provo campus is a stark contrast from its reputation at other colleges and in other cities, where it is known as a conduit for more casual encounters.

It allows users to narrow preferences based on proximity, age and gender, then thumb through profiles with photos and brief descriptions.

And proximity is key. Only profiles within a limited radius can be seen. If two users approve one another's picture by flicking it to the right, they can correspond — and perhaps meet.

"You don't have that fear of rejection," said SaraJane George, a University of Utah communication major who started the blog Right Swiped with her husband, Chris, a BYU alumnus. The pair created the site to help tech-averse family members understand the couple's initial electronic courtship.

"The hardest part of talking to somebody is that fear," George said. "And now you've eliminated that."

The service caters to a plugged-in crowd, not confined to college students. Its effect on young Wall Street workers, for example, is profiled in a September Vanity Fair article titled "Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse."

But for many at Utah universities, the digital connection is a way to narrow the dating pool — and find a partner.

Tom Graham, a 30-year-old master's student at BYU, found himself outnumbered by undergraduates in his business classes. Odds of meeting a potential life partner among fellow MBA students were slim, he said, "unless I wanted to try to date someone who was a good 10 years younger than me, which is not what I wanted to do."

Tinder helped him meet more mature candidates, but it wasn't until after graduating that he came across a picture of his future wife.

The two agreed to meet for hot cocoa at Fashion Place Mall.

"My sister was going to meet me to come finish shopping," Graham said, "and I ignored her calls a couple times."

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