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Modern Love: Neurodivergence and Dating Apps

Read Time 4.5 mins

Navigating the world of dating can be challenging for anyone, but for neurodivergent individuals, particularly those with ADHD and autism, there may be even more challenges when it comes to finding love, especially on the apps! 

My name is Jamie Johnston, and I am the creator of Mattr dating app. As a person with AuDHD, I know all too well how difficult it can be. A few years ago, I was a dating ‘addict’ who thrived on the dopamine buzz of getting a match on dating sites. However, rather than leading to good dates and meaningful connections, I just ended up with a folder full of matches that did not progress to anything more significant. 

The ADHD part of my brain allowed me to manage multiple chats with ease. ADHD’ers thrive on newness and excitement but can sometimes struggle with commitment or lose interest once the initial spark has worn off. The result was a deeply unsatisfying dating life. 

I also felt it was dangerous that traditional dating apps ‘gamified’ the experience. Most apps offer a paid option that allows you to unlock more matches. People with ADHD can have addictive tendencies, so it can be appealing to pay money essentially to receive more dopamine spikes. This is the same way the gambling industry works, yet dating apps are not regulated in the same way gambling is. 

The Creation of Mattr 

With these issues in mind, I set out to create a dating site specifically designed to meet the unique needs of neurodivergent people. I wanted to create a space that felt safe and empowering. I also wanted to encourage genuine connections rather than throwaway matches. By focusing on inclusivity, understanding, and accessibility, I wanted to offer a dating experience that respects and celebrates neurodiversity.

For individuals with ADHD and autism, traditional dating sites present several challenges that can hinder the dating experience: 

  1. Sensory Overload: Many dating apps are filled with bright colours, flashing notifications, and complex navigation, which can be overwhelming for individuals with sensory sensitivities. This sensory overload can deter neurodivergent users from engaging fully with the platform. 

  2. Superficial Interactions: Traditional dating sites often emphasise quick interactions based on physical appearance. For neurodivergent individuals, meaningful connections require deeper understanding and communication, which these platforms typically don’t facilitate. 

  3. Communication Barriers: Standard messaging formats on traditional sites can be daunting for those with ADHD and autism. The pressure to respond quickly and the potential for miscommunication can create anxiety and discomfort. 

  4. Lack of UnderstandingNeurodivergent individuals may face misunderstanding or stigma on conventional dating platforms, where neurotypical behaviours and expectations prevail. This lack of awareness can lead to negative experiences and further isolation. Mattr allows users to be completely open and unmasked. 

How Mattr works 

Mattr is designed with features that cater specifically to the needs of neurodivergent users, ensuring a comfortable and supportive dating experience. Here’s how it works: 

  1. User-Friendly Interface: The platform has a clean, intuitive design with minimal sensory distractions. Recognising that sensory overload can be a significant barrier, Mattr uses calming colours and straightforward navigation to create a user-friendly environment. 

  2. No Swiping: Most dating apps work on a model of swiping left or right on images of potential matches. This can create a superficial dating experience. Instead, Mattr users are presented with five people per day who they can then choose to chat to. This is less overwhelming for the user. 

  3. Comprehensive Profiles: Users are encouraged to create detailed profiles that highlight their interests, preferences, and communication styles. This allows for deeper understanding and better compatibility, moving beyond the surface-level focus of traditional dating apps. 

  4. Tailored Communication Tools: Mattr offers various communication options, including guided conversation starters, mood indicators, and video messaging with customisable playback speeds. These tools help users communicate in ways that are comfortable for them, reducing anxiety and fostering genuine connections. 

  5. Safety and PrivacyPrioritising user safety, Mattr implements robust privacy settings and a strict anti-harassment policy. Users have control over who can view their profiles and can easily report or block inappropriate behavior. 

What Makes Mattr Different 

As well as the functionality being vastly different to more traditional sites, I wanted to offer something more to Mattr’s users that goes beyond the app. One of the big differences is the offer of educational resources for both neurodivergent individuals and their potential partners. These cover topics like neurodiversity, effective communication, and relationship tips. This helps build empathy and understanding within the community. 

Mattr users can also access extra support such as mental health professionals, support groups, and community events. These are provided to help users navigate the complexities of dating and relationships. I have also built links with brand partners such as gyms, salons and nutritional supplements so that he can offer discounts to users. In this way, Mattr helps to provide holistic support for neurodivergent daters. 

Benefits for Neurodivergent Individuals 

Mattr offers numerous benefits to its community that extend beyond just finding a romantic partner: 

  1. Increased Confidence: By providing a space where they can be themselves, Mattr helps neurodivergent individuals build confidence. Users feel valued and understood, which encourages authentic engagement. 

  2. Improved Social Skills: The platform’s communication tools and educational resources help users develop better social skills, enhancing their overall interactions both on and off the platform. 

  3. Reduced Isolation: Traditional dating apps can exacerbate feelings of isolation for neurodivergent individuals. Mattr’s inclusive community offers a sense of belonging, reducing isolation and fostering supportive connections. 

  4. Authentic Relationships: With a focus on meaningful compatibility, Mattr helps users form genuine and fulfilling relationships. These connections are built on mutual respect and understanding, leading to more satisfying and enduring partnerships. 

In conclusion, I hope that the creation of Mattr represents a significant advancement in the world of online dating. By addressing the unique needs of neurodivergent individuals, particularly those with ADHD and autism, we provide a platform where love and connection can thrive without the constraints of traditional dating norms. It stands as a testament to the power of empathy, inclusivity, and innovation in creating a more compassionate and understanding world for everyone. 

About the author 

Prior to founding Mattr, Jamie spent his career working across growth departments for agencies, brands and technology firms. He is a regular contributor on podcasts and television, discussing all things dating and neurodiversity. 

If you would like to know more about Mattr, you can check them out here or follow them on the socials here.

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