Caroline, a 25-year-old Canadian living in Washington, D.C., joined Maple Match the weekend before the election as a “light-hearted distraction.” The dating app, which was launched in beta mode with a waitlist in May, promises to match Americans “worried about life under a Trump presidency” with Canadian paramours. It seemed like a fun joke in the spring, but its dramatic growth since the election of Donald Trump has made it into a barometer for genuine panic. The number of app users, which timed its official launch to Tuesday’s voting, tripled this week.
The design of Maple Match, which did not return Inverse’s request for comment, has more in common with OkCupid than Tinder. Rather than swiping, users can message each other directly and use a survey to better improve the quality of their matches. The site also brags that it’s more inclusive than other apps, giving users an option to search for trans men and women or not list a gender at all.
“I grew up in Houston, and we had a lot of Canadians around there, and I had an opportunity to meet a lot of Canadians,” founder Joe Goldman told DC Inno. “They’re pretty similar to us and Canada is right there, too, but not many people go there.”
Promises of a visa aside, the app itself is a bit glitchy. It doesn’t allow you to sort by location and even figuring out how to send a message is tricky. And based on the users Inverse interviewed, it’s being used post-election more to express political concerns than to spur romance.
“I joined the day after Trump won,” says Keane, 23, of Cold Lake, Canada. “[Messages have] been fairly steady and lots of profiles have sent messages about being worked up about Trump.”
Nick, 24, an American who lives in Kentville, Canada joined the app in order to express his political discontent. “If any one of them are looking to move to Nova Scotia, then I would be happy to get to know them,” Nick tells Inverse. “I would definitely be open to dating an American if I met the right person, but I am not necessarily on here actively searching people out.”
Regardless of the difficulty of the method, it’s clear many Americans are taking the idea of a move more seriously. In the late hours of election night, Americans crashed Canada’s immigration site. Marriage, after all, isn’t the only way to emigrate to Canada. Enrolling in a program of study or obtaining a work visa could actually be easier.
If history is any indicator, the app will likely remain popular for some time. Immigration from the United States to Canada doubled between the last six years of the Bush administration, from just under 5,000 to just over 10,000. And that’s not the only use case for this technology. One of the most rewarding parts of the app might not be finding a partner, but finding sympathy from our neighbors up North.
But there are some potential pitfalls within the dialogues that spring up.
“Being able to run away to Canada is also somewhat unsettling because it seems like a luxury that most Americans don’t have,” says Caroline. “Not to mention, the vast majority of messages I’ve received have been from white men and so quite honestly, the constant stream of ‘save me’ messages are ironic and lacking in self-awareness in a not funny way.”
Though Caroline has received over a 100 messages — mostly involving questions about immigration — she doesn’t have much interest in men from the site so far. She says she wants to find some who likes feminism and salt and vinegar chips and will get her a puppy. Home, after all, is where the heart is.