It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I locked myself in my room and waited for the clock to strike 9 p.m. Then I opened The League app on my phone, pressed a button, and stared anxiously at the countdown on my screen until a stranger appeared.
The next two minutes were followed by awkward silences and slightly painful conversation. But after a little while, it turned out to be pretty bearable and…actually kind of fun.
For the last couple of years, I’ve watched my friends swipe left and right on dating apps, go on countless dates, and unfortunately, sometimes, get ghosted. All the while, I sat back and relaxed my relationship throne, breathing a sigh of relief that I was #blessed to not have to go through such deep, dark depths to find a partner.
Until that relationship ended (cue Mr. Krabs on the world’s smallest violin).
So, when I was given the opportunity to test out The League’s new speed dating feature, League Live, I was weirdly…excited? The very modern take on speed dating allows you to go on three live video dates, one after the other, all of which are two minutes each. Afterward, you can decide if they’re worthy of your physical presence.
For the time being, the thought of forcing myself out of my apartment to go out on a date gives me crippling anxiety. But a short video chat in the comfort of my own room? Sign meeeee up.
Wait, what even is The League?
If you haven’t heard of The League, then I already know your résumé isn’t all that impressive. Just kidding. But not really.
The League is an exclusive dating app for those who are, as per its website, “typically extremely intelligent, hard-working, self-aware, and tend to go after what they want in life – and finding a partner is no exception.” In other words, an app for millennials who are proud to admit their profession is their true love.
And, in case you thought that was rare, there’s a waitlist to gain entrance. That’s because the team at The League thoroughly checks applicants on both LinkedIn and Facebook to basically, make sure they’re successful enough to be on the app (so many finance bros). It also helps to eliminate the possibility of being catfished.
Once you’re in, the process is similar to any other dating app. Create your profile, add some photos, write an intriguing bio, brag about where you went to school, and you’re done. You also have the option to link your social media accounts like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. That way, potential candidates have the option to do some extra stalking before hitting that Like button.
Unlike Tinder or Bumble, where you can aimlessly swipe until you get bored, The League limits you to a few prospects everyday at 5 p.m., aka the end of a work day. (Workaholics apparently don’t have time to think about dating while at the office.) You’ll also never be matched with anyone who doesn’t fit your preferences, no matter how specific.
You have the option to set whether you’re looking for women, men, or both, along with age, height, distance, ethnicity, education, and religion.
To appease my parents, I made sure to set my religion as Jewish before setting anything else. Anyone with a Jewish mother knows exactly what I’m going through here. I also accidentally set “Highly Selective” as the education, which brought me to guys who went to Ivys like Brown, Columbia, Yale, etc. Let’s just say my Rutgers degree looked super impressive.
The number of people you’re presented with vary depending on the tier you’re in. Let’s just say, the more you pay to be part of The League, the more options and perks you get. Lower tier memberships range from $299 for three months to $399 for six months, while the more premium memberships go up to $999 per month. But there is a free tier, for peasants like me.
The experience that is League Live
As with the rest of the app, League Live has a waitlist. At the time of writing this story, there are 4,430 people waiting for the opportunity to video chat their little hearts out. It’s also only available to use on Sundays between 9 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., so it’s likely you can use being hungover as a great conversation starter.
I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. I brushed my hair (rare occurrence for me), put some makeup on, and dedicated about 10 minutes to finding the best lighting in my room. On the bed? Near the window? On the floor right near my lamp?
It was at that moment I also proceeded to reevaluate my entire life.
Once I situated myself, I put my Airpods in (as to not worry my roommates when they heard me talking to random men via FaceTime on a Sunday night) and pressed the Live button on the screen once the clock hit 9 p.m.
As the app was loading to find my first potential match, I started to have PTSD from the days of Chatroulette, when my friends and I would sit there hoping we’d land on an internet celeb like Jeffree Star, and not men showcasing their you-know-whats.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about that.
The League’s founder Amanda Bradford confirmed they don’t let just anyone on to the live feature. “[We] only select users [for League Live] who have been on the platform long enough to have a valid ‘League Score,'” she said. “This score reflects their profile stats and behavior on the app and when talking to matches. Users must have an above-average League Score to be eligible for entrance.”
You also have the option to end the call, and block or flag the person. At which point, The League’s customer support team deals with them.
Before each video chat starts, you’re given, like, two seconds to see their profile before you’re hit with an awkward ice breaker and then a countdown. The questions were things like:
“What do you value most in a friendship?”
“In as simple of terms as possible, what do you think art is?”
“Have you been to any exotic travel destinations?”
Only slightly corny.
Thankfully, I met some bad boys who started the chat by asking me if we can skip the question. Instead, every single one of them asked me about my Thanksgiving instead. Which was also … just as awkward.
“How’s working at Goldman Sachs?”
In terms of the chat interface, there is a lot going on. While live, you can see the person’s profile and talk to them simultaneously. I know it’s meant to help provide context and maybe give people ideas about what to talk about, but I legit felt like I was conducting a job interview.
Questions I definitely asked on these calls:
“So, I see your profile says you went to…Vanderbilt? How was that?”
“How’s working at Goldman Sachs? How long have you been there?”
“So, your commute to work isn’t all that bad from where you live?”
Upon noticing I worked as a tech reporter, one guy vented to me about how he originally set out to become a journalist but fell into public relations. At which point I replied, “Well, if you need help getting back into writing, let me know.”
If you do happen to feel butterflies for someone during a call, you can choose to extend the call for another two minutes. Of course, that’s only if they too want to continue talking. You can also “Heart” their profile while video chatting, at which point they will see a pop-up letting them know. Very super chill. If they like you back, then a match icon will show up on their profile and you’ll see them in your matches tab. But if you need some more time to think on it, they also appear on your account to like or dislike later.
Since I was testing out the feature, I had the opportunity to video chat with more than three people, which for sure helped ease my nerves. After a couple of attempts, I started to realize it wasn’t toooo bad. Everyone was polite, talkative, and … felt just as uncomfortable as I did. With some, two minutes flew by while with others, I was counting down the seconds.
I also found a bit of a hack to skip over guys I already wasn’t attracted to based on their profiles. Rather than awkwardly ending live call for no reason, I would force quit the app and go back in.
I am sorry to these men.
But the app knows when you try to bypass the system. If you leave a live date, you’re placed in a two-minute timeout before you can jump back into the live sessions.
After about 20 or so minutes, my time with League Live came to an end. As I sat on my bed and quietly reflected on what just happened, I realized the whole video chat feature isn’t such a bad idea after all.
While I didn’t think that I’d be able to gauge whether I was attracted to or interested in someone based solely on video, I was proven wrong. It was actually a little too easy. And it saved me a lot of time, effort, and mental gymnastics that come with dating in 2019.
Will I do it again? Maybe once in a while. But I might also start vetting guys I meet on other dating apps via FaceTime before I agree to grab drinks. Ya know, just as a precaution.