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The Short Version: Often neglected in the booming world of online dating, single parents face unique challenges when deciding to reenter the dating arena. UK-based Playdate, the first dating app for single parents, allows singles with children to find compatible dates who also have children. Unintrusive and parenthood-focused, Playdate departs from the swiping method traditionally used in dating apps to create a platform that singles who parent can rely on – without all the dramatics.
Single parents face a unique set of challenges when entering the world of dating. Whether it be finding someone who understands their priorities when it comes to their child or securing a last-minute babysitter, singles with children encounter obstacles not understood by childless singles. Playdate understands this and has built an ever-evolving interface that takes the dramatics out of online dating for parents who don’t have time to waste.
Traditional dating apps are often designed around quick and superficial judgments prompted by the all-too-common swiping format. For many single parents who decide it’s time to get back on the playing field, swiping formats tend to be exhausting. On other apps, some single parents may feel their status as parents puts them at a disadvantage. Playdate was created so daters don’t have to feel like their responsibility and dedication to their children is viewed as a negative by prospective partners.
We spoke to Nevine Coutry, founder and CEO of Playdate, to learn more about the genesis and features of the app. A single parent herself, Nevine created the app out of an understanding of single parenthood and a desire to provide single parents with a platform for connection. “There were dating apps for just about every group but single parents,” Nevine said, “so I saw that need and started developing Playdate.”
In 2020, Nevine Coutry was running a marketing agency and raising her son as a single parent when the COVID-19 pandemic turned her world upside down. Her business collapsed overnight and strict lockdown rules kept her and her son in the house around the clock. Without a steady income and kept busy by homeschooling her son, Nevine was at a crossroads. She could move back to her home country of Egypt or pursue an idea she had been cultivating for a couple of years: a dating app for single parents.
“I found it difficult to meet other single people in London who understood single parenthood,” Nevine said. “I had this idea for a while and decided it was time to make it happen.” With that, Nevine began developing what would become Playdate. She focused on creating a simple interface that promoted a less artificial way of connecting and came out the other end with the U.K.’s first single-parent dating app.
Nevine said she believes the timing for Playdate was perfect. Nearly everyone had to stay inside, and the internet became the main location for a lot of social interaction. Apps that helped make connection possible in a time when no one could leave their homes became not only incredibly popular but crucial. Outside of the context of COVID-19, the concept and function of Playdate holds up.
Single parents are often already stretched thin by the responsibilities of their children, jobs, and homes. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to find free time, much less free time to try to date. The no-nonsense approach of Playdate has eliminated swiping and book-cover judgments making it perfect for parents who are done playing games.
Nevine said she was familiar with what dating parents needed and began app development with simplicity and functionality in mind. Playdate users will find that the app looks different from others– there is no swiping. “I really wanted to create an app that wasn’t about swiping,” Nevine said. “I find it really superficial, and I think it creates feelings of rejection that just aren’t necessary.”
The decision to exclude swiping was a purposeful one made by Nevine. In the beginning stages of app development, the design team pushed for a swiping interface. Nevine felt swiping as the first interaction with a profile was unproductive and likely led to missed connections.
Nevine told us the app works more like Facebook: Users can set filters and Playdate will present a collection of profiles that users can request to message with. Unlike other apps where filters are constricted to location and age, Playdate is highly customizable. Users can set filters based on whether they are open to having more children and their single status (divorced, widowed, separated, etc.).
The app employs user verification to ensure everyone on the app is who they say they are. As a dating app for parents committed to their children, Playdate takes user verification and app safety seriously. The low-key format of sending requests to chat greatly reduces unwanted or inappropriate come-ons and gives users full control over who they talk to. Before approving the request, users can look through the sender’s profile.
Playdate encourages authenticity and wants users to celebrate their parenthood. On this dating app, having children is never seen as a caveat. Instead, parenthood is framed as an empowering experience that speaks to the character of the app’s users. Playdate connects people who are proud to be parents and are not just secure in their family dynamic, but ready to welcome others in.
The modern dating scene is one of constant development. Dating apps especially are constantly undergoing updates to improve functionality and add even more customization. Nevine knows that growth and adjustment are essential in ensuring a long lifespan for Playdate, and works to make sure the app stays competitive.
Nevine’s plan for Playdate is for it to become a leading global dating app for single parents, with its eyes set on the US next followed by Europe and the rest of the world. Nevine is looking forward to seeing the app continue to grow in the UK before they cross the pond.
This stage of growth that has Nevine so optimistic includes Playdate’s new features. The new premium membership gives parents access to audio and video calling within the app. Invisibility mode allows users to make themselves invisible to other users they specify. Regardless of why a user may want to hide their profile, the process of doing so is easy. App users simply input the email address of the person they want to become invisible to, and Playdate takes care of the rest.
One of the foundational and most important aspects of Playdate is its partnership with Bubble, the U.K.’s leading childcare and babysitting app. When Nevine first started developing ideas for a single-parent dating app, she approached Bubble. Bubble agreed that there was a market and partnered with Nevine, and by the time the app was launched, parents could receive a discount on services provided through Bubble when they book a date-night sitter.
Playdate ensures single parents no longer have to feel out-of-the-loop in the world of dating apps and can continue to focus on their children while pursuing romantic relationships. Nevine said she feels Playdate is a welcoming and low-pressure place where single parents can start when they’re reentering a dating arena they may not be entirely familiar with.
“Single parents will feel comfortable and safe simply because everyone on the app is a single parent, in the same shoes, and hence has that shared experience which they can speak to,” Nevine said. So even if they don’t find love, they might end up finding great friendships and a forum to just talk about the joys and struggles of single parenthood.
“As a single parent, I felt that when I re-entered the dating scene I needed to be emotionally ready, and I think that’s an important first step for single-parents thinking about joining the app,” Nevine said. “So once you’re emotionally ready, come to Playdate. We’ll help.”
Playdate is available for download on both App Store and Google Play in the UK.