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Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams on Facebook Dating and Falling in Love

At an event celebrating the launch of the new Facebook Dating app, actor Sarah Hyland and her fiancé Wells Adams, of Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise fame, were happy to talk about finding love online. The newly engaged couple didn’t meet on a dating app, but they did first connect on Instagram and Twitter, making them the slightly unconventional millennial model for using the internet to find love. Though almost 40% of heterosexual couples meet online today, the concept is still slightly taboo—in my experience, while everyone I know is open about the fact that they use dating apps regularly, it still feels like there’s currency in how you met your significant other. (An in-person meet-cute story seems more valuable than a match online.) When I talk to friends who tell me they’ve met their partners through apps, there’s almost always a twinge of irony. It’s as if finding The One online will ceaselessly be paired with a self-deprecating cackle of, “Can you believe it?!”

“Listen,” Adams says to me while discussing the state of dating today at the launch event. “Everyone that goes on the Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, for all intents and purposes have been dating the wrong people their entire lives.”

“Were you one of those people?” I ask.

“Yes,” Adams says. “I think everyone has this perceived ‘type,’ but it hasn’t worked for them and they continue to fail. These shows, especially the one that I’m on, show that if you open your heart to other people who wouldn’t be your ‘type,’ you can have long-lasting, beautiful relationships.” Adams then references Evan Bass and Carly Waddell, who met on season three of Bachelor in Paradise and are now married and pregnant with their second child. “Carly was like, ‘I would never date this guy,’ and now she’s pregnant again. I think it shows that you can find love anywhere.”

“I think what it says about society is that people want more options,” Hyland interjects. “We don’t want to be told what to do, we want to be able to make our ow

n decisions for ourselves and be able to have the option of doing so.”

Facebook Dating is just another one of those options. After two years of product design and planning, the app officially launched yesterday, existing inside of Facebook’s mobile app rather than as a separate app, though the registration process requires users to opt-in and create a separate dating profile. At that point, it functions similarly to other dating apps: Users answer questions about themselves, upload photos, and can link directly to their Instagram account. The algorithm suggests people based on a user’s preset preferences along with interests and events they’ve attended or plan to attend, as indicated on Facebook. There is no matching—you just like or comment on someone’s profile to let them know you’re interested. And not to worry: The algorithm prevents any of your Facebook friends from showing up in your Dating feed.

“What Facebook Dating essentially means is that there’s a singles’ room inside of every Facebook group,” Nathan Sharp, the product manager behind Facebook Dating, told the crowd at yesterday’s launch event. “It also means that if you’re going to Governor’s Ball in 2020, you can start to match with people before you even go to that event. Events are particularly interesting in the dating context because past events represent missed connections, and future events represent ready-made dates.”

While Facebook Dating contains many of the best features of other dating apps, it has a few distinct qualities: The Secret Crush function lets users select up to nine Facebook or Instagram profiles they follow. If the crush puts you on their list too, it’s a match. And if you don’t match, it’s as if nothing happened at all—no one will ever know you entered their name, and everyone is safe. Whereas dating apps largely aim to connect us with strangers, Secret Crush makes being vulnerable with people you already know all the more easy.