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Tinder, but make it elitist: I tried The League dating app for one month, here's what happened

Unlike Tinder or Bumble which tend to cater towards hook ups and casual relationships, The League has a rigorous screening process and is designed to match prospects with fewer but higher quality matches who want long-term relationships.  – Photo by The League / Instagram

Nearly a month ago, I stumbled upon something in one of my class’ lectures that caught my eye. We were discussing online dating and the persona you create for yourself to try to find “the one.”

That’s where I was introduced to the Harvard of dating applications: The League.

If you’ve never heard of The League, it’s essentially a dating app designed to bring successful, ambitious, elite singles together to breed power couples.

You have to apply and are placed on a waitlist while The League’s team reviews your profile and decides whether you're worthy enough to be accepted. It's super selective, and the waiting process can take months. 

The mission “is that The League promotes higher education, encourages career-ambition and, most importantly, cultivates the desire for an egalitarian relationship in both sexes," according to founder and CEO Amanda Bradford.

My first thought was that it was an elitist Tinder designed specifically for the pretty, rich and privileged to have yet another exclusive space to be snobby. Naturally, I was intrigued.

After obsessing about the concept for two days, I decided to apply and see for myself.

Applying was easy — all you have to do is build a profile similar to Tinder. 

The app encourages you to choose high-quality photos of you smiling and doing things that interest you, like hiking or going to dinner with friends, rather than posting tons of party photos or selfies in bad lighting. They want you to show off and send the message that you’re cool and attractive.

You have to link the app to your LinkedIn and other social media. By doing so, The League automatically inputs your education and career to your profile, so everyone can see how smart and accomplished you are. 

After submitting my profile (and having extreme anxiety over the idea of being judged by a bunch of perfect people), I was put on a waitlist where I was told I was somewhere around number 980,000 on the list. 

I figured I would have to wait months to hear back about my application, and to be clear, I am nowhere near a rich 10 out of 10 on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Nonetheless, I woke up the next morning to a notification that I had been "drafted" into The League. I’m not sure how I skipped the 979,999 applicants before me or even how I got accepted. Cue the momentary sense of validation. 

Thus, began my journey of trying an elitist dating app for a month so you don’t have to.

Let me just say: There are so many rules and weird features on The League. For starters, there are various levels to memberships. Everyone on the app can use it for free under the guest membership, or you can pay to upgrade for access to exclusive features.

The paid memberships are incredibly expensive for the average person, but I suppose it’s just a penny to the demographics the app is targeting. If you decide to upgrade, you can choose to become a Member, Owner or Investor, which cost $199.99, $399.99 and $999.99, respectively, for one month. 

Obviously, I opted for the free version.

Upon acceptance into The League, I was messaged by my personal concierge who welcomed me to the app, told me what to expect, gave me advice and laid out all of the rules.

So how does it work? Every day at Happy Hour, 5 p.m. on the dot, I would be given between 1 to 3 prospects that I could swipe through and heart or reject. If I match with another profile, I would get a notification that I hit a Home Run, and we could begin messaging each other. It’s like fancy Tinder.

He told me to make sure my photos were perfect because “people have high standards here!”

My concierge then told me about something really interesting: the League Score. 

Essentially, the app tracks how often you log in, if you respond to people’s messages, how picky you are, if you’re nice to your concierge and other activity. Your matches can also flag your profile and report you if you’re “flaky” or rude through messages or on a date. 

The goal is to have a League Score of All-Star, but the app and your matches have the ability to hurt your score and potentially get you kicked out of the app. 

Guests can also get kicked out of The League for not logging in at least once every three weeks and for violating the Code of Conduct, to which the concierge states that the app is for “classy” people and to act accordingly.

At this point, I had only been in The League for a few minutes and already felt completely out of place.

During my first Happy Hour, I was presented with two prospects. Both men were white, taller than 6-feet, around 25-years-old, graduated from Ivy League schools and were financial analysts at big New York City companies. Both of their photos were professional headshots followed by photos of them in the mountains, with dogs and on boats.

I also was given the opportunity to join a group, one for “Women Who Wine,” which I chose to join and was added to a group chat with 805 members.

Every day for the next four weeks I hopped on to The League and was presented with an identical Happy Hour experience. I was shown a new group each day, including “Live Music Peeps,” “Hikers, Yogis & Runners” and “People With Dogs.”

But the prospects were all so eerily similar to each other. I expected it, but it freaked me out. In an entire month, I only saw profiles of approximately five men who weren’t white. Not everyone went to an Ivy League university or was a financial analyst, but everyone was pretty close to it.

Full disclosure: I'm incredibly picky. Maybe it was because I was using The League for research purposes rather than finding an "Alpha Boyfriend," or maybe it was because, after a week, I was so incredibly bored of my prospects. 

Nonetheless, I only actually matched with eight people, and I only talked to two, both of whom cut right to the chase and asked me to go out for drinks (I didn’t go, and I ghosted them both because I was so uninterested).

After my month-long experiment on The League, there are a few things that I hearted, and a lot that I rejected. So, let’s discuss.

Heart

One of the best aspects of the app is the lack of catfishes. Since you have to connect your LinkedIn and social media, and someone personally handpicks each member, you can be certain that the person you may go on a date with is exactly who they said they are.

I can also respect The League’s mission. Being a successful, career-oriented woman often intimidates men. Your matches know what they are signing up for and are more likely to support you in your career as you build a relationship, rather than asking you to prioritize their own successes.

I do like the group features. You can make friends who have common interests, and in a non-pandemic world, The League hosts group events where you can meet people organically, which is pretty cool.

Reject

There are so many things I ruthlessly hate about this app, but let’s focus on the big things.

For one, there's absolutely no diversity. The profiles I saw every day were of boring, white men who were all the same. They’re cool, I guess, but come on.

I don’t know if this is because this is the standard of the men applying, or if the app consciously chooses to exclude applicants of various races, classes and other backgrounds. Regardless, it’s a hard reject from me.

The. League. Score. Need I say more?

The paid memberships are ridiculously expensive, and for what? A few extra features and a sense of financial validation? Pass.

Even though the screening process has its benefits, it’s weird knowing a random human whom I’ve never met is scrolling through my pages deciding if I’m worthy enough to be accepted. Like, who are you to decide if I’m enough?

Overall, my experience on The League was … interesting. If you fit the profile of ambitious and educated, and your endgame is to find someone to share that with, then The League may be perfect for you.

But, for me, I couldn’t get past the obvious elitism and lack of diversity within the app. It got boring after only a few days, and I can’t envision myself sitting down with one of my matches and actually enjoying myself, let alone finding my soulmate. 

Maybe one day I’ll come back to The League and have a more rewarding experience. But, for now, I'm hiding my profile and deleting the Harvard of dating apps.

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