- DEMI LYNCH -
Picture this - it's Friday night, you're having a night in.
You're bored so you start swiping away on your dating app.
You match with a guy and think "mmmm...he looks okay, maybe I'll chat with him for a bit."
But then the CREEP comes out; he sends a message about wanting to do something to your boobs and ass (not even a hello first, just straight away creep talk).
So you delete and block him like many other creeps in the past.
And then you delete the app.
Only to then re-download it again several nights later because you're bored.
Yep, our datings apps are known to have many creeps.
But it shouldn't be that way, harassment shouldn't be normalised on dating apps.
In fact 57 per cent of women have reported being harassed on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.
That is why brother and sister Nediva and Nathaniel Sokoll-Ward decided to team up and create an app that was creep free and promoted healthy dating.
This year they created CITRUS - a reputation-driven dating app that is free of harassment and aggression.
I spoke with the duo about the app's unique features (including recommendations and endorsements) and how this is a game changer in the dating app industry.
Have you yourself Nediva experienced creeps on dating apps prior to starting Citrus?
NEDIVA - I’ve never had super enjoyable experiences. Instead of engaging in thoughtful or meaningful conversations, I’ve found a lot of men on these apps to be overly sexual and inappropriate. The majority of my friends have experienced this kind of harassment as well. I also have friends who have been sent unwanted nude photos and reported them to Bumble or Tinder only to find that person allowed back on the app a few days later. I’ve found that as soon as I’ve expressed disinterest in their behaviour, the conversation turns from unwanted sexual advances to just plain mean.
Harassment, crudeness, and meanness shouldn't be normalised as the “cost of doing business” while on dating apps. Everyone deserves a comfortable dating experience, and that’s what we’re trying to deliver with Citrus.
Two features that really differ Citrus from other dating apps is DATE ENDORSEMENTS and RECOMMENDATIONS? Why was this included?
(NEDIVA) The big idea behind 'ENDORSEMENTS' and 'RECOMMENDATIONS' was to bring some accountability to dating. When people have a reputation to uphold, they make more of an effort to be the best version of themselves.
If you’ve ever gone on a blind date, you’ve likely experienced this dynamic. Because there’s a common friend in a blind date pairing, both people know that the friend is going to get the scoop on how the date went. Citrus is like that friend in the middle. We help ensure that your chats and dates are as safe and rewarding as possible.
At a more practical level, 'Endorsements' and 'Recommendations' are really cool ways to gauge what a person is actually like.
With 'Endorsements,' you can see what people’s dates have had to say about them. You can finally find out things like whether their pictures are accurate, if they smile a lot, and whether they’re kind. Before an 'Endorsement' can be published, both parties have to confirm that they met in real life.
'Recommendations' give your friends an opportunity to say why someone should go out with you. When you create a profile on Citrus you get a 'Recommendation' URL that you can text out to your friends. They can leave you a 'Recommendation' even if they don’t have the Citrus App themselves. Our friends are often our best advocates and they can see what makes us awesome even if it’s not always clear to us. 'Recommendations' are also a really handy way for people to get a positive reputation on the app if they haven’t yet gone out on any Citrus dates.
It is very common for people that use dating apps to delete and then deactivate their accounts. Why do you think that is? And why was it important to have the option “take a break” from the app?
(NEDIVA) I think a lot of people get burned out. Whether you’re having negative or positive interactions on dating apps, the ability to talk to a massive amount of people in an online setting rather than face-to-face can become exhausting and we’re not naive to the potential ways this might impact a person’s mental health. The “take a break” option is different from deactivating your account entirely. It allows you to continue chatting with your matches, endorsing your dates and receiving recommendations. However, you won’t be shown any new prospective daters to match with. Maybe you’ve met some good people and you’re not interested in meeting anyone new, or you prefer to use Citrus as a messaging platform instead of finding new matches. Whatever you’re reasoning, this functionality allows people to have flexibility in how they choose to use Citrus.
Another great initiative Citrus has started is the Citrus Foundation? Why is it important to you to help artists in Wellington, New Zealand?
(NATHANIEL) We believe in the power of art. Citrus in fact began purely as an art project. I was working on a few different creative projects, but Citrus was receiving a lot of positive feedback and it stuck. Everything we do is highly experimental. You can see this in the ways we try to influence how people interact with each other, the design of the app, and the approach of our marketing initiatives. We view Citrus as art applied to changing the way people date. With this in mind, it felt natural for us to help support local artists in the communities where Citrus is active.
(NEDIVA) We initially launched the Citrus Foundation while we were solely in Wellington, but have since expanded the program to encompass the areas where we’re now active -- including Australia!
(NATHANIEL) We award local creators with $1,000 grants to bring immersive experiences to their city. The growth strategy for Citrus is hyper-local. We don’t market to all of Australia or all of New Zealand - we focus on specific cities. Our goal with the Citrus Foundation is to inspire new community, new art and new experiences.
What has been the reaction to the app so far?
(NEDIVA) The reaction has been very positive! Everyone knows online dating can be dicey. When people try Citrus the most common reaction we get is “Finally!”
Online dating is the primary way Millennials and Gen-Z’ers find romantic partners and so it’s really about time there was a dating app that actually cares about people’s safety and well-being. We’re excited to continue expanding across Australia and in to new countries in 2020!
For more information on CITRUS click on the link below
Announcer & Producer of 'The Nasty Woman Club Podcast'
Co-Producer & Co-Announcer of Radio 4EB program 'Fair Comment'