An app that wants to help you make friends, not friends with benefits

There are a zillion apps to help you find friends with benefits, but what if what you really want is just regular, old-fashioned new friends?

Me3 is a new app that’s launching today that’s designed to help you meet new people who share your interests, goals, and personality traits — also known as potential pals. It was created by Julian Ilson, along with cofounder Emanuel Petre, after he noticed that making friends after college was both difficult and time-consuming.

Indeed, finding new people to hang out with can be one of the hardest things about adult life. Once you’re out of the immediate social circle that school offers, it can be a challenge to forge new connections — especially when you’re always busy working. And often your posse starts to shrink as your friends move to different cities or start settling down with families.

This leads to a real sense of loneliness, and that can actually impacts your health over the long term. It’s a challenge that others have tried to address with apps. Most notably, dating app Bumble, which launched Bumble BFF for friend finding, and Tinder, which has Tinder Social. There are others too, like Hey! VINA, which is just for women, and old standbys like Meetup too.

But Me3 is taking a unique approach, which is also designed to combat the inevitable slide into dating app territory that many social apps eventually undergo. It works by matching you with people of the same gender in groups of three, called Tribes. You can then chat with your tribe and can see each other’s shared interests, traits, and goals.

Why three? Well, as Ilson told us, “Two is a date. Three is a party.” A one-on-one meetup can be awkward, but with three, he says, “the expectation to contribute to the conversation is less, so you’re more relaxed and you can be yourself.”

The best news is that there’s no swiping around through endless options, dismissing people for random reasons. Your profile is private (you fill it in by answering a series of game-like questions), and you’re matched into tribes using an algorithm that relies on more than 150 factors that encompass things like personality, lifestyle, and beliefs.

You can leave a tribe at any time for any reason, and for now you can basically join as many as you’d like. Over time, the algorithm will use machine learning to optimize itself into making better and better matches.

The app is free, and available for iOS and Android. They’re launching initially in New York City, but will expand as soon as they reach sign-up thresholds of 500 users in other areas.

Solving the age-old problem of loneliness is a big ask from any app, but at the very least Me3 can give you the option of saying “table for three” instead of “table for one” — or worse, another night alone on the couch with takeout.

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