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Redesigning the early dating experience for safer and stronger relationships

MA 22/23
Online dating, relationships, safety

SafeDuo’s mission is to redesign the early dating experience to create safer and stronger relationships for people who meet on dating apps. We aim to create a service to support individuals and couples to:

  • Create healthier dynamics, through improved communication skills and reduction in early dating conflicts like ghosting 
  • Maintain safer interactions, by supporting users to identify, communicate, and uphold their boundaries and respect others
  • Increase awareness of personal needs, by strengthening users self-esteem, confidence, and emotional resilience
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The Love Industry is growing.

Over 337 million people use dating apps worldwide. In the UK, 64% of single people are on dating apps.  Today the global online dating market size is valued at $10 billion, and is projected to grow to $20 billion by 2030.  Dating apps are focused on increasing the quantity of matches to keep users coming back for more. 

But what happens when we “switch” off the apps and decide to meet?  This is where our project begins.

RESEARCH & Insights


We focused our research around three themes - experiences of online dating after leaving dating apps, personal boundaries, and safety. We conducted two sets of primary research with dating app users:

  • Survey: 30 respondents; straight, queer, aged 25 - 34; male, female, and non-binary 
  • Interviews: 15 respondents; straight, queer, aged 24 - 55; male, female, and non-binary 


Safety: Dating apps aren’t doing enough to keep users safe. Users are taking measures into their own hands on and off the app.

“If I want to report “you made me feel uncomfortable” - how do I report that? What if he made 10 other people feel uncomfortable? How do we give that feedback?” - Interviewee, Female, age 34

Boundaries: Personal boundaries are hard to identify, implement and hold in early dating. Users struggle to articulate what they want, especially women. 

“I felt it hard to articulate what I needed and establish boundaries in early dating. I didn’t know how to say what I needed” - Interviewee, Female, age 28

Experiences: People feel less prepared and more afraid to commit. Insecurity is high in early dating due to ambiguity and lack of credibility, leading to ghosting and bad behaviour

“Constant miscommunication and misinterpretation of ourselves. The default feeling is that the person isn’t interested. They don’t like me, this is gonna end. I feel really insecure.” - Interviewee, Female, age 27


How might we design a support system for daters to navigate the complexities of early dating - dynamics, safety, and personal needs - after they leave dating apps?


Online daters are being overserved matches.

After leaving dating apps, users struggle to find strong and safe relationships due to safety, limited boundaries and expectations, and a heightened fear of rejection.

There is a gap in service provision supporting young daters to maintain and sustain relationships once matches choose to meet in person.

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