3nder Is Tapping into Millennials' Open-Mindedness About Sex

The app is growing fast and just got a $500,000 investment.

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Oct 28 2015, 9:00am

Photo: Andry Fridman/Flickr

Brooklyn 27-year-olds Caroline and Elie, two women in a long-term relationship who asked to remain anonymous for professional reasons, had been considering a threesome with a single guy. They thought it was impossible--until the app 3nder came along.

"In this case we were looking for a threesome, so it was appealing to find an app that serves exactly that purpose," Caroline said. "A threesome with a stranger, yeah, seems hard to find to me."

Since that encounter, which was mostly positive, the couple has expanded their interests within the app to include not just single guys but single women and couples.

"Part of threesomes is adventure," Caroline said.

As niche dating apps continue to jostle for market share (there's an app now for dating on airplanes, called Wingman), 3nder has tapped into the millennial generation's increasingly open-minded, sex-positive attitudes, making a name for itself as a discreet tool for those seeking out novel sexual experiences.

3nder seems to be tapping into a new wave of sex-positive thinking

What started as founder Dimo Trifonov's social experiment has become an increasingly popular matchmaking tool. The app launched in the UK in July 2014 with a 60,000-count waiting list. Since then it has expanded to parts of the US, primarily New York City and California, and now boasts more than 700,000 users, according to the company. It's no Tinder, which has an estimated 50 million users. It's growing at a brisk pace, however; the company says it has 17,000 new downloads per week with no marketing (and no Android version of the app until December).

As 3nder grows, the tech world has taken notice. On Monday the company announced a $500,000 investment from a pair of angel investors. According to a press release:

3nder, formerly known as the threesome app, is expanding to serve its real purpose.

Our perception of love is evolving beyond social norms. 3nder helps singles and couples open up to their sexualities, elevated away from social pressure. It is a place where humans do not have to abide by the artificial rules of an ageing morality. It gives curious couples and singles a beautiful space to show their true selves, explore their sexualities, and discover like-minded humans.

3nder seems to be tapping into a new wave of sex-positive thinking. A study released in August by the British market research company YouGov found that among 18-24 year-olds polled in the UK, a robust 49 percent did not identify as entirely straight. Among this group, 43 percent identified as neither entirely straight nor entirely gay according to the Kinsey scale, a rating system used to measure degrees of heterosexuality and homosexuality, with 0 being completely heterosexual and 6 being completely homosexual. Among the next-oldest age bracket, individuals aged 25-39, a slim 29 percent identified as anything other than either entirely straight or entirely gay. And among the general population, a buttoned-up 72 percent identified as 100% straight.

Though the study's methodology has gotten some pushback for using a relatively outdated metric, it holds that the tendency to rigidly define one's sexual identity is sharply declining among younger adults.

New York magazine recently published a cover story about the relative open-mindedness of the rising generation when it comes to their sexual identities. The magazine polled more than 700 current college students across the US about their sex lives, and while their attitudes were predictably varied, authors Lauren Kern and Noreen Malone came away with "a sense of optimism about the many ways for young people to explore their own identities and sexuality, to figure out who they are and whom they want to love."

Trifonov, born in Bulgaria in 1990, founded the app with an appreciation for individual choice. "Everyone can decide for herself what's wrong and right," he said. "It creates a more open mindset about the world, not just about sexuality," he said, referring to our networked world. "Thanks to it, humans started to accept the new, and different. Different doesn't have a negative connotation anymore."

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