The Scoop: As online dating continues to grow in popularity, niche apps help singles find what they want. For singles who desire casual relationships, the HUD app can help them avoid awkward conversations and conflicting expectations. Members can share what they want in the bedroom and any other desires to ensure everyone enthusiastically consents before the fun begins.
The nonprofit RAINN organization describes consent as a clear and verbal agreement between people before they engage in sexual activity. Those who are underage, intoxicated, asleep, or threatened cannot give consent, and there’s a difference between saying “Yes” aloud and not saying “No.” Enthusiastic consent, or someone saying “Yes” aloud, is perhaps the clearest consent of all.
Consent can be sexy, especially in casual relationships that are increasingly common in today’s dating environment. The HUD app is geared toward those hookups and prioritizes honesty to promote enthusiastic consent.
Those interested in hookup dating focus on enjoying and exploring sex casually and consensually. Edward Chen, Founder and CEO of HUD, said he put a lot of thought into creating a mobile dating app that’s respectful and ideal for hookups.
“Most people think HUD stands for ‘hook up dating,’ and it does. But it also stands for ‘honest upfront dating,’” Edward said. “We are transparent and open about the HUD app being primarily a casual dating app, and our messaging is very clear about that.”
Two people with very different expectations for a romantic encounter — one person wants a hookup, and the other is interested in a long-term relationship, for example — can lead to confusion and hurt feelings. That’s why it’s good to talk early on about what is desirable and what isn’t. Honesty is what makes hookups so fun, and a lack of openness and consent can result in less-than-ideal experiences.
“We’re building a unique niche group of like-minded users that you can’t find on other dating apps,” Edward said. “They’re all here for the same purpose and prioritize honesty and clarity in their relationships, so it’s symbiotic.”
Bringing a Sex-Positive Platform to North America
Many mobile dating apps in North America tend to cover the entire spectrum of singles. Some apps require users to only write short — often ambiguous — profiles that can easily lead to confusion. Edward said he has gained dating industry experience over the past 20 years. He leveraged his background in computer science to work for a variety of dating startups, and in 2012 he built a dating website in New Zealand, where he lives.
A few years later, he recognized a gap in the United States dating market. Singles used most apps and websites to find relationships, while other singles were only looking for casual flings. So he launched HUD in 2015. Today, the app — available on iOS and Android — has nearly 11 million users and 10,000 daily downloads.
The HUD team also has grown to more than 30 employees.
“Our mission has always been the same: We want to be the best commitment-free dating app out there and deliver an exceptional user experience and results,” he said. “Our goal is to combine simple, intuitive, modern design with an ever-changing culture to create and foster innovative experiences.”
The company invests plenty of time and capital to meet user needs and realize that vision. And these modern daters want the opportunity to engage in important conversations about boundaries, desires, and preferences without it being awkward. The HUD app fosters that honesty.
“HUD users are upfront about what they want, and our app has built-in features to facilitate and encourage honesty in user interactions,” Edward said.
New Features Include a Couples Chat for Added Transparency
In the next few months, the HUD team plans to launch new features designed to make the hookup dating experience even better. One of the most requested upgrades is a revamped Couples feature. It will allow for three- and four-way chats with couples, and the company plans to make it available in the first quarter of 2022.
It will give users the chance to add their partners to their profiles. That will make ethically non-monogamous daters with primary partners feel more comfortable by remaining honest and transparent in everything they do.
“We’re also working on some exciting partnerships to help increase our safety offerings for users,” he said. “User safety is a major priority, and we were the first dating app to incorporate SAFE Badges.”
The badges signal that a user has up-to-date STI test results, which is an important decision-making factor before a hookup.
Besides sharing a desire for honesty, safety, and sexual exploration, HUD users are fairly diverse. They range in age from 18 to their 60s, with the core demographic between 18 and 35. Its users enjoy exploring their sexuality without dealing with the pressures of dating or even needing to define themselves before meeting up.
Most app users are in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. But HUD aims to expand into the European market, focusing on the UK, Germany, and France.
Edward added that a basic HUD membership is free for everyone.
Members looking to get the most out of the HUD app can sign up for Premium and Diamond subscription services. Each level provides extras that make it even easier to meet compatible users.
HUD: Singles Can Connect Without Shame or Fear
A HUD team member screens every single person who signs up and verifies each account for age and a legitimate device and phone number.
“We are very strict compared to other apps when it comes to following our community guidelines, and we are big on respect,” he said. “If we feel a user is showing red flags, being disrespectful, or breaking the rules, we won’t hesitate to remove them from the platform.”
The platform also flags profiles for trigger words and uses other internal measures to enhance safety and create a good experience. Those features especially help women and people who choose not to identify by their biological sex. Users need consent to receive photos, video calls, chats, and messages. Singles can even blur their image on calls and profile photos until they feel comfortable.
“Our users tell us they feel very accepted in the HUD app community because we don’t slut shame or kink shame, and we let our users define the way they want to date,” he said.
For example, users can browse the Bedroom feature, which presents an opportunity to discuss boundaries right away. It’s an excellent way to quickly share preferences and narrow down prospects.
“HUD takes the pressure off of our users to weed through a sea of people who might be looking for other things,” Edward said. “HUD offers less disappointment and more intent, with features that allow you to discuss your boundaries and needs right from the start.”