Apprentice Final: Could Vana’s ‘DatePLAY’ work?


Dating expert and eHarmony contributor, Charly Lester, shares her thoughts on Apprentice finalist Vana’s dating proposition. 

Apprentice fans will have seen Vana’s new dating app ‘DatePLAY’ showcased on the show’s dramatic final tonight. Whilst the concept of the app is based around playing games, the interesting difference comes in the algorithms behind the app.

Finding the perfect partner is a complicated quest, and one which we as singletons don’t have all the answers to.  We might know what we find attractive, or unattractive, in a potential match, but when it comes to the personality traits which best complement our own, few of us can pinpoint the real deal-breakers.  Whilst physical attraction and a shared sense of humour are important to a relationship, it takes a lot more to ensure decades of future happiness.  It’s this magic matching algorithm which dating websites have sought to perfect over the last fifteen years.

By asking you a series of questions, and comparing your answers to those of potential matches, a dating site can work out which partners are most suited to you in the long-term.  Some of the questions require identical answers, others require completely opposing approaches.  Who knows whether over-confidence attracts shyness, or shyness plus shyness equals a perfect match? I may not …but the algorithm does!

Dating sites have had years to perfect the matching questionnaires and games.  They have hundreds of thousands of successful matches, which they can use to work out which characteristics complement each other.  Partner matching has become a science, and one more complex than perhaps we give credit for.  Anyone who has ever played matchmaker before will know just how complicated it can be to successfully match up two people you know well.  And, with careful, thought-provoking questions, a dating site can match you up with a perfect stranger.  Perfect for you.

The thing about answering questions online is that it is possible to over-think our answers.  We can give the answers we think we ought to say, rather than expressing our real gut feelings.  And so it’s really interesting to see Vana developing games which determine dater compatibility.  If you’re playing a game, and reacting quickly to stimuli, you’re less likely to overthink your answers.  It’s simply a matter of finding the right games, to properly assess partner compatibility.

A great advantage of dating in 2015 and 2016 is just how much choice you have.  With different apps and websites to help you along your single journey, as well as matchmakers and dating coaches, dating has very much become a team game.  You no longer have to fly solo.  And as a dater, it’s up to you how much work you want to do.  Some apps will simply present you with pictures, or basic profiles, and let you do the rest of the work.  Others, like eHarmony, allow you to invest more time telling the site about yourself, so that the website can then properly assess your compatibility with matches, before you’re shown anyone.  So if you’re struggling to work out what you want and need in a partner, why not opt for a site which is willing to do some of the work for you?


Charly Lester is one of Britain’s most recognised dating experts.  The founder of the UK Dating Awards, her blog 30 Dates is one of the most successful British dating blogs ever. The former Global Head of Dating at Time Out, Charly’s advice has appeared in most national newspapers, and she regularly appears on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

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