The first time I learnt about the dating app Raya was when I read about Amy Schumer’s new boyfriend at the time, Ben Hanisch. He was a furniture designer and she’d met him through a dating app I’d never heard of that was mostly for celebrities.
Over the years, I’d hear about Raya again and again. Someone had spotted Channing Tatum on it. Ben Affleck sent a cringe video message to a model after they’d matched on Raya. Here in Australia, Brittany Hockley had met her now-ex Jordan Thompson on the app.
TikToker is going viral after sharing the video Ben Affleck sent her after she unmatched with him on dating app Raya:
“Why did you unmatch me? It’s me.” pic.twitter.com/3R31AJPHWM
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) May 3, 2021
“Raya is a private, membership-based community for people all over the world to connect and collaborate” is its tagline.
I’d of course downloaded the app and registered my details, including adding my Instagram handle, which it asks for, but it kept saying my application was being reviewed.
Then, one day, when I was texting my friend in Melbourne after a bad date, she texted back, “You should try Raya! I’ll invite you.” I couldn’t believe it. “How did you get on Raya?”, I wrote back, quickly checking Instagram to see what her follower count was. She had 507 followers.
She’d been invited and then accepted after three weeks, she said. And she was sure I’d be accepted, too. I got a text message saying she’d referred me. And then… nothing.
Three months later, I got a message saying I’d been accepted. Eight years after I’d first heard about Raya, I was finally on. And I can tell you — it was nothing like I expected. So, if you’re curious about Raya and wondering how exactly it works, I’ve decided to share all my surprises on it here.
And, so we can get this out the way now, the celebrities I saw on it were Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Brody Jenner and, if you can say he’s a celebrity, Sam Burgess, who said he was only looking for friends. (Did I match with any of them? Spoiler: no.)
Also, please note, this was just my experience, as a non-celebrity and non-influencer. Other people might have or have had a totally different experience.
You Have to Pay for It
Okay, firstly — who knew you’d have to pay for Raya? After all that waiting, I was shocked to find out it was $24.99 per month, $109.99 for six months and $149.99 for 12 months. Are celebrities paying that? Surely not?
I signed up for just the month so I could see what it was like and then decide if I wanted to commit to a longer membership. I ended up just doing the one month. I’m still considered accepted though, so can easily rejoin if I decide I want to pay for it again. I did wonder from the fact I barely matched with anyone, whether profiles of people who had stopped paying for memberships were still left up.
Profiles Are Slideshows
You know how on a regular dating app, if you see a profile of pics that all look professionally shot with the person looking like a model, you automatically think, “okay, that’s clearly a bot”? Almost every single profile on Raya was like that.
The profiles were shown in slideshow format, with the user picking a song to play their slideshow to. All profiles had the person’s Instagram handle on them though, so if you did really like the look of someone and wanted to make sure you did connect with them, you could add them on Instagram.
It Shows You People Around the World
While other dating apps can show you people around the world — Tinder and Bumble have paid ‘Passport’ features that let you swipe anywhere while Hinge lets you manually change your location for free – the default settings are always your immediate surroundings.
On Raya, while it did at first show me lots of people in Sydney (where I’m based) and Melbourne, it also showed me people in South Africa, the UK and the US. Also, unexpected, it only showed me a limited amount of people per day and then I’d have to wait up to 24 hours to be shown a new batch of profiles.
It’s Also Used for Networking
As I said, Sam Burgess said he was only looking for friends on the app. In fact, there were quite a few people only looking for friends. A girl I knew on it had told me it was “great for networking”. I could definitely see that as many of the people on the app called themselves “Entrepreneurs”.
You Can’t Take Screenshots
And finally, probably not that surprising but still worth a mention, I found Raya doesn’t let you take screenshots.
I took one and I got a pop-up saying it was against the rules and that I shouldn’t take them or I’d risk getting kicked off. Still, it did let me keep my screenshot — which might be all I’ll get as a token of my Raya experience if anyone from their team ever reads this.