This Guy Made a Dating App Where You Can Only Date Him

This Guy Made a Dating App Where You Can Only Date Him

“I’d never really done the online dating thing,” Los Mayers said. Mayers, an app developer living in Brooklyn, had met all of his previous partners in person the old-fashioned way. But last summer, his ex broke up with him, and newly single, he decided to give online romance a shake. Mayers spent a month on Hinge. He got advice from his friends and tips about profile photos, spent all day writing personalized messages, and even tried paying for a premium account. But by the end of it, all Mayers found was disappointment. “It felt like the apps just weren’t for me,” he said. But Mayers is a builder, and he thought of a novel solution. He made a dating app that was just for him. Literally, for him and no one else.

It’s called “Flirt With Los.” There’s no algorithm recommending an endless stream of polished photos. There are no “Super Likes” to consider. The app doesn’t try to sell you subscriptions when you run out of swipes. There aren’t any swipes to begin with. There’s only one profile to choose from. You open the app, type in your Twitter or Instagram username, and there he is. It’s a picture of Mayers with two options: “flirt” or “pass.” Flirt With Los is worth a download if you’re single. You just might find the love of your life.

The Internet promised to bring us together, but 30 years in, it seems like it’s driving us apart. For many, the apps and devices that fill our lives are alienating things even while the web offers an unprecedented kind of interpersonal connection. Dating apps are a prime example. Millions of single strangers are looking for love online, but more people than ever before say it’s hard to find a date. But in a world where technology draws up strange, unwritten barriers between us, Flirt With Los goes in a different direction. It’s a kind of direct one-on-one connection that almost no other app can offer you.

It’s pure self-expression. The app offers you a selfie of Mayers, standing confidently with his head cocked to the side, looking into a mirror at a clothing store. He’s Wearing a t-shirt, a gold chain, patent leather shoes, and what looks like a skirt. Not your thing? Try a different app.

If you hit pass, it brings up a photo of Mayers crying and asks you to try again. When you hit the flirt button, and it’s hard to resist, it brings up a series of prompts. “Hey los, vibing your style… hmu someday?” or “Glowin’ much? Magic on point.” If they aren’t to your liking, you hit refresh and it generates more. Mayers wanted to eliminate the stage fright that comes with a blank text box. “I just want you to pick something that resonates as flirty and interesting. It doesn’t have to be about finding the perfect words, it’s just a moment of connection,” he said.

In 2023, Mayers sent out a challenge to release an app every month for a year. Part of it was about beefing up his coding skills, but he was also exploring a brand new way to think about making software.

Flirt With Los might feel like a joke until he slides into your DMs.

“I spent a lot of time trying to resolve these two parts of myself, the part of me that has this CEO, builder kind of energy, and the side of me that feels like a rapper and just wants to make art,” Mayers said. “I wanted to see if I could drop apps the way other people put out mixtapes.”

Lots of tech companies build their business around “connection,” but by turning apps into art projects, he takes it a step further. Mayers wants his apps to connect you with him, or at least his unusual form of personal expression.

He went through several different iterations, some more successful than others. He released a reminder app called Intentional that offers personalized encouragement based on how you describe your to-do list. He found users learned to phrase their tasks based on the kind of feedback they wanted from the app. Then there was postypost, an unhinged social media app that uses AI to rewrite your posts once a day based on an ever-changing cycle of themes. It lets you express yourself without worrying about sounding clever and adds a bizarre layer to your social connections.

But Flirt With Los is the purest example of the form. The whole thing is partly a cheeky little joke, but there’s a level of seriousness to it as well. “It’s easily the most personal thing I’ve ever done,” Mayers said. “All my apps are based on a problem I’ve experienced, but this is the first time it’s literally saying ‘This is me. This is my face, and this is the problem I’m having. I can’t find a date.’” It was so personal, in fact, he had a hard time releasing it. It was such a show of vulnerability that Mayers sat on the app for weeks before he had the courage to share it. “But then I got this sense of clarity. If you want to find connection, especially with the barrier of technology, you have to present 100% of yourself, with all your flaws,” he said.

After years of bland, corporate copycat sameness, the tech industry is finally at a moment of change. The big tech companies are rewriting the paradigm of society-wide communication channels, and experimenting with new forms of content creation and consumption, but the shifts at the lower end of the chain are just as significant.

Mayers’ said his work is part of a burgeoning movement among independent app developers who are playing with what, exactly, apps can be. It’s a kind of exploration we haven’t seen since the early days of the iPhone. There’s Drumroll, an app that spins through your camera roll, hundreds of photos at a time, to create a sort of memory-spanning flip book. @Me hearkens back to the early days of the internet with ephemeral, AIM-style live text chatting. Knock lets you send Snapchat-style videos to your friends, but they can’t include sound, which is meant to encourage more creative expression. Soundmap crosses Pokemon Go with Bandcamp, letting artists drop singles on a map for users to go out and collect. And, of course, countless app developers including Mayers are experimenting with non-boring attempts to harness AI, with moodboards, diaries, playlist builders, and more.

Flirt With Los is simple. You open it up, pick your flirts, and move on with your day. It’s cute, if a little anticlimactic, but Mayers promises the magic comes after you close the app. After all, unless you typed in a fake username, you did give him your social media handle.

“Trust and believe, if you keep flirting, I will be sending out DMs,” Mayers said. “I’ve turned myself into a person that will take that shot. Expect it to come your way if you download the app.”

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