Every Saturday, when Randa Sakalla sends out her free Hot Singles newsletter, she hopes to find a suitable one. Maybe not eternal love, but a connection, albeit fleeting, between two people who are interested in something more.
Her emails feature profiles of eligible New Yorkers, styled in old-school personal advertising style. One day, subscribers may learn about “a loving effervescent seltzer, beatboxing and techno dancer extraordinaire.” Another, “31M Pomodoro Papi” is looking for his “baby Bucatini”.
Each subject answers at least three questions: What is your toxic trait? What excites you? What are you looking for?
“It’s a good clue, a little derisive, that gets people to talk positively about themselves when they’re in a dating environment where self-promotion is pretty awkward,” Ms Sakallah, 27, said in a recent phone interview. month. Interested readers are encouraged to email her their personal information to pass it on to the popular “hot single” who will pick it up from there.
Ms. Sakalla launched the Hot Singles newsletter when she moved to New York from San Francisco last October. At the time, many lonely, hot or not, were desperate about the pandemic and how it complicated the dating equation. In the age of apps, finding a potential partner was difficult.
“The existing ways of meeting people are outdated,” she said.
Back in the Bay, Ms Sakalla dabbled in a matchmaking game: she ran an event in which participants asked each other 36 questions leading to love, designed by a psychologist to help couples assess their potential for intimacy. She also drew attention to an Instagram account called Personals, which borrowed text-based techniques from the past to help strangers communicate in a way that felt new. (The account was later replaced by an app called Lex.)
“I thought it would be cool to create a dating profile that focuses on the whole person,” Ms Sakalla said, “rather than why you should date them.” She added that the Q&A format “gives you the feel of a person’s voice.”
Avery Bedous, 24, a subscriber who reached out to one of the hit singles, said, “The personality is screaming through Hot Singles and it’s very confusing about something like Hinge.” There was no match, but he still reads.
Spencer Mestel (“The Prince of 32M Polls Seeks an Active Voter with a Soulmate”) called the newsletter “one man’s dream.” He met Ms. Sakallah in the Substack writing group and was intrigued by the alternative she came up with to the “unnatural banal prompts” common in dating apps like Hinge’s Two Truths and Lies.
“I just lack the desire to live with apps,” said Mr Mestel. Participation in Hot Singles meant that others could get involved in the pursuit. (Indeed, two people approached him to express interest.)
According to Stephanie Tong, director of the Social Media and Relational Technology Lab at Wayne State University, app fatigue is a feeling many people experience. Navigating the dating network began to feel “like a part-time job,” she said.
According to Dr. Tong, “Hot Singles” acts like an interview. Questions make people think and present themselves differently than they would if they were writing their own profile. In addition, since the profiles are written through an intermediary, “it looks more truthful,” she said. “It’s not just that you write how good you are and post it on your own profile – someone else might be more likely to believe it because it’s directed by someone else.”
So far, the success has been modest. The number of responses ranged from zero to five per single, with some connections leading us to meet after a month or two. The newsletter’s subscriber base remains small, with around 800 subscribers, of which around 100,000 subscribed to Substack’s most popular publications. But Ms Sakalla has a growing waiting list of singles to be submitted – over 60, and these are the only ones who have passed her Google form validation.
Since then, Ms Sakallah has started writing a monthly advice column in the newsletter. While she doesn’t make money from Hot Singles – she works in technology – she has some ideas for the future, such as increasing the frequency of newsletters and sending out personalized newsletters.
“Personally, I’m more interested in how it makes meeting and finding people more fun,” she said. If it doesn’t involve swiping your finger across the screen, it should be.