I tried Alike, a new dating and friendship app for Asians and Pacific Islanders. It’s been incredible.

The writer, Sonah Lee-Lassiter, and a friend from Alike.
  • I tried Alike, a new dating and friendship app for Asians and Pacific Islanders.
  • I used the friendship feature to meet multiple people. We’ve bonded over shared hobbies and similar life experiences.
  • The app has helped me seek friendships with intention – and I know that my potential matches are doing the same.

I learned about Alike, a dating app for Asians and Pacific Islanders, through an Instagram post by “The May Lee Show” podcast. I’m already happily married and not looking to date, so I thought it was too bad the app wasn’t also for making friends.

But by mid-summer, Alike announced a feature for friendships. I immediately joined as a beta tester.

Alike has a minimalist approach. Other than demographic information and photos, you’re required to upload at least one video responding to different prompts, which takes the place of written bios. Some prompts shine a positive light on the Asian experience, like: “The first Asian film/TV character that I loved.” Others say “My Asian role model is…”

Alike is just growing out of beta phase, so the app is still free to use. Only users of the same gender (female, male, or nonbinary) can connect with one another in the friendship feature of Alike, and the distance can be set for all of North America or “near me” – an option that founder Hanmin Yang told Insider is “equal to about one end of Los Angeles to the other.”

Trying to find people within my region, I’ve connected to a woman in Toronto who grew up in the Netherlands and taught me some Dutch, another in Philadelphia who works in motion graphics, Sarah in Ohio, and a few other women in New York City.

The writer, Sonah Lee-Lassiter, and a friend from Alike.

When filtering for new friends on Alike, I had several major turn-offs:

  • Profile photos with face filters.
  • Profile videos that are not of themselves or don’t include them talking.
  • Any content that purposely uses Asian stereotypes as self-deprecating humor, like using an Asian-mocking voice in a video, perhaps trying to be funny in an ironic way.

I was able to meet up with a new friend, Anke, in Brooklyn weeks ago for lunch. We started off getting bubble tea in Sunset Park (home to Brooklyn’s Chinatown), which I had been meaning to explore. We ended up talking for hours in the tea shop about our families, mental health, and how we grew up.

Anke is from Hershey, Pennsylvania, where she says her high-school class was an unexpected mix of affluence (old money connected to the Hershey chocolate empire) plus rural working-class culture (think souped-up pickup trucks).

“Our high school had days off just for hunting season,” Anke said.

I felt an easy connection in knowing we both came of age in very white and rural-adjacent suburban areas where there are few people of Asian descent. Although our experiences growing up weren’t completely similar, I felt an unspoken understanding that this upbringing also meant we’d both faced our fair share of racism in our childhoods.

Even though we are almost a decade apart in age, I felt I could relate easily to Anke in many ways. Her struggle with anxiety, depression, and how she has coped with ADHD all resonated personally with me.

We spent another couple of hours at a hot-pot lunch spot where we both stared at a large paper menu with open circles that resemble a standardized test’s fill-in sheet, unsure how to order until we asked a server for help. Having grown up with Chinese parents, Anke had some understanding of the menu’s options, so I relied on her to give me thumbs up for what new things to try. I appreciated her candor, openness and enthusiasm to talk about everything and anything during our first meet up. We’ve gone rock climbing together and I’ve met some of her friends since then.

Chatting with Sarah, who is from Ohio, we quickly realized an uncommon commonality – she’s also experienced the loss of both parents, albeit in uniquely different ways and circumstances than I have.

The writer, Sonah Lee-Lassiter, and a friend from Alike.

Sarah and I recently followed our app-based chat with a FaceTime call. Finding it hard to make friends in her current town outside of Cleveland, she tried BumbleBFF but eventually gave up. (I’m a longtime BumbleBFF user and found the experience helpful in knowing how to navigate friendships on Alike.)

She’d also joined a rec soccer league to meet new friends, but found it hard to make any deep connections.

“If you don’t go to a bar or church here, there’s nowhere else to really be around people,” Sarah said.

I asked about her work as a firefighter and UX/UI designer and her thoughts on policing (her spouse is a police officer). We found we were both snowboarders and former rugby players and it was surprising to see how many random things we seemed to agree on, like our distaste for horror films or how we’d never buy a fancy expensive car if we won $1 million in the lottery. I look forward to our next time catching up.

Soon I hope to meet Emily, a Korean adoptee who grew up in Nebraska with Chinese and white parents. I found out she studied fashion in a past life and asked if she’s up for a visit to the Brooklyn Museum’s new Dior Exhibit. Plans are in the making.

Using Alike has felt really meaningful to me, because I can seek out friends within the API community with intentionality, knowing that others on the app are doing the same. The diversity of connections here has also been a beautiful and eye-opening experience. There are more people out there like me, but in all different ways than I thought.

Read the original article on Business Insider