How Pear’s social experiment is combatting dating app fatigue

A new startup called Pear wants to eliminate our reliance on tech to foster romance. Its small green ring encourages singles across the globe to make organic connections.

Thred Media
4 min readAug 2, 2023

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Earlier this year, we asked whether dating apps have taken the fun out of falling in love on the back of revelations that an estimated 56 per cent of people using them feel inherently negative about it.

With this sentiment to be expected considering many of these services promote swiping through potential matches like online products, our final verdict was a resounding yes.

In spite of success rates (which for the most part are on the decline), deciding on something as meaningful as a future life partner from behind a screen is arguably as dystopian as it gets.

The process of curating ourselves, dedicating hours to assessing our options, desperately bobbing and weaving ghosters, scammers, or time-wasters, and sustaining virtual conversations — all before verifying the ‘connection’ IRL — has become a real slog.

Echoing this is Pear, a new startup that’s earned itself a substantial amount of virality in the last month for offering singles a tech-free means of finding ‘the one’.

Hoping to eliminate our reliance on the likes of Hinge, Tinder, and Bumble and revive fostering romance organically, the premise of the ‘world’s biggest social experiment’ is simple: wear a small, turquoise band on your finger to show that you’re available and ready to mingle.

That’s it. The goal is that two strangers will meet in public, notice the flash of teal, and embark upon their journey towards relationship territory. Think university traffic light parties at scale.

‘If 1.2 billion singles around the world wore a little green ring on their finger to show they’re single, we wouldn’t need dating apps. IRL connection is the mission,’ reads a statement on its website, which also claims that 100% of the profits are committed to expanding its reach.

‘I am pro anything that ignites excitement in dating,’ relationship expert Anna Williamson told Cosmopolitan.

‘People are wanting to get offline. Face-to-face connections will always trump being behind a piece of tech because you have the full sensory experience, which is vital.’

So far, the first and second releases of its stock has sold out — there were apparently 500,000 rings in circulation at the end of May — and it has amassed almost 230K followers on Insta.

Pear is said to be selling approximately 1,000 to 2,000 rings a day and recently launched a lilac version to cater specifically to the LGBTQ+ community.

Regardless of Pear’s evident popularity, however, there are reservations.

‘I fear some men taking that ring as a green light to be weirder than we already are. Y’all ladies wear these with caution,’ commented an Instagram user. ‘You always could just actually say hi and chat. Surely if they were single or not — you’d find out’, said another.

Nevertheless, by tapping into pervasive dating app fatigue and the struggle to move dating offline, the startup has gained a lot of traction.

Offering a welcome break from often soulless digital flirting, Pear is using the growing appeal of face-to-face interactions to its advantage.

Even though approaching someone in the street and facing the prospect of humiliation is still daunting, according to Inner Circle’s research, 3 in 4 British singles would prefer to meet a future partner in person.

With this in mind, Pear may wind up being a good idea. For too long we’ve used dating apps to lessen the sting of rejection and neglected to accept that they’ve also dampened the joy of dating’s nascent stages.

Will it serve as a tangible solution and render the industry redundant, or is it merely symptomatic of our dating app disillusionment? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Or you could just keep your eyes peeled for a green ring next time you hit the town.

Originally written by Sofia Phillips for Thred.

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