If your best friend is single, doesn't want to be but refuses to date online (despite constant badgering), thanks to Tandem, you can finally do it for her.
Tandem, which launches on Wednesday, is bringing the concept of the "wingman" and "wingwoman" to the web with an online dating service that lets singles bring their friends along on their hunt for love. Calling itself a "two on two meetup site," Tandem hopes to play matchmaker by pairing up two pairs of friends for group dates.
While traditional online dating sites let singles search for The One in a mostly solitary endeavor, Tandem is one of a growing number of Internet matchmaking sites like Circl.es and Acquaintable trying to make online dating a little more like it is offline: a social experience with more face-to-face interactions and less pressure to find a soul mate in every stranger.
"People are a lot more at ease when they're with someone they know, and so we wanted to build a site that leverages that," said founder Will Tungpagasit, who formerly served as a software engineer at TaskRabbit, a startup offering pay-per-task personal assistants. "It's like a casual meetup instead of a direct one-on-one online dating meetup."
You needn't be single to sign up for Tandem, you just need to know someone who is. New users can indicate on their profiles they are either "taken" or "single," but are required to add at least one "wing" -- Tandem lingo for the friend with whom one is pairing up -- to register for the site. The site helpfully syncs with Facebook to let users pick from among their acquaintances.
Like OKCupid and Match.com, Tandem profiles ask all the typical questions about height, weight, job and favorite travel experience, and has also tried to engineer a natural icebreaker by asking users to pick their favorite activities ("Things I do with my Wings") from a list that includes everything from drawing classes to theme parks.
But one's personal profile is as much about one's friends as it is about the individual, and features large photos of the "wings" front and center on the page.
On behalf of a friend (no, really), HuffPost decided to browse a list of New York men between the ages of 20 and 40. While it was hard to imagine that "Ronen" (not his real name) and his greenish-tinted profile picture winning over our "wing," his three preppy/hipster chums looked like they could be a fit. A click on "Suggest a Tandem" contacted Ronen to see if he might want to meet, then it was a matter of selecting a friend from our list and one of his more suitable friends from his list. The final step is suggesting an activity and place to meet.
Though more brightly lit and more sober, perusing profiles through a computer screen on Tandem is the closest online equivalent to scoping out strangers at a bar. You see someone who catches your eye, then immediately take a look at his (or her) friends. Their style tells you a bit more about Person One, and maybe you notice a Person Two in the group who looks even more attractive. Why not say hello?
Tungpagasit suggests the site stands to be a boon for people who aren't necessarily attractive online or particularly adept at pitching themselves in dating profiles.
"I think the best strategy is to have single friends who are attractive," explained Tungpagasit. "Maybe someone doesn't think my profile is cute, but she thinks my friend is cute and she thinks, 'Oh, I want to meet that guy. I don't care if Will comes along.' It opens up opportunities for me because I'm not that photogenic, but I'm fun in person. I get an opportunity to win them over with my charm."
He also notes that the social nature of the service can make even bad dates fun.
On a "Tandem," he says, "worst case is you're hanging out with your best friend. The best case is you find someone you could hang out with in the future."
Tandem, which is free to use, will be available in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Madison, Wis., and Austin, Texas, at launch.