AI found him a date. ChatGPT told him to propose. Now they’re getting married.


Aleksandr Zhadan knew he didn’t want to match on Tinder with any women holding flowers in their profile pictures. In Russia, where he lives, he thought it was a telltale sign of a big ego—akin to the men-holding-fish-photos that have plagued dating apps in the United States.

He also knew he didn’t want to continue conversations with women who were very religious, into astrology, or did not work.

So he built some AI-powered bots to weed them out.

“Previously I’d had a good relationship for two years, and I realized that I understand what I want, I understand what I don’t want, and I understand how we can connect,” Zhadan, a 23-year-old AI product manager who goes by Sasha, told Forbes from Moscow. “I wanted to find the one.” To cut out some of the time and emotional strain of going on hundreds of dates and sifting through thousands of profiles on Tinder, he built an auto-swiper in 2022 to do some of the work. And when ChatGPT was unveiled shortly after, he started programming it to chat with his matches. Transcripts, screenshots and data reviewed by Forbes show the evolution of Sasha’s AI as he improved it over several months.

In the beginning, the bot was outright bad. It didn’t sound like him and was missing basic information. If GPT said Sasha’s dog was in the hospital, and the woman asked what happened, it was unable to respond in a logical way.

To improve his Tinder talker, Sasha created a database using human conversations that he, not GPT, had previously had on the app, including keywords, questions and answers on topics he often talked about. He trained the next iteration of his chatbot on that data, and trained his auto-swiper (powered by vision model Torchvision) to filter out more photos based on his preferences. At one point, he even programmed the AI to stop responding to matches who criticized him for using ChatGPT to write his thesis, a feat that had made him a local celebrity, because to him, this signaled they lacked important qualities he sought in a partner: creativity and open-mindedness.

And things did get better, despite the occasional hiccup. In one instance, without Sasha knowing, GPT accepted a date at the local contemporary Multimedia Art Museum of Moscow. When the woman showed up, and Sasha, unaware, did not, she messaged him on Tinder to ask if he was still coming. The bot responded reassuring her he was on his way and apologising for the delay.

Forbes translated the woman’s exchange with the bot from Russian. Sasha, unaware, never showed up.


In December of 2022, Sasha’s GPT began chatting with a match who lived just outside Moscow, Karina Vyalshakaeva, and they met in-person for the first time in January. At the time, Sasha opted not to pursue the relationship. But a few months later, an improved version of his bot based on GPT-4 resurrected their Tinder chat. “Hi, we haven’t talked for a while,” it wrote. “I hope you’re doing well. I was thinking about our conversations and decided to write. How are you?”

And that’s when the bot and Karina really clicked.

Karina, who is 22, did not know a bot had slid into her DMs. GPT complimented her photos, and then, thanks to a function Sasha set up for the bot to suggest, after 60 messages, that they move the discussion to Telegram (used there as ubiquitously as we use iMessage to text), they began talking more regularly off Tinder. Similarly, now on Telegram, the bot would ask for a date after 60 messages. And through an integration with Google, it knew Sasha’s schedule and could suggest a restaurant or bar for the rendezvous.

Karina had no idea she’d been algorithmically chosen and conversing with AI until more than six months later, in November, when she and Sasha were already living together and he broke the news.

“I really was shocked,” she told Forbes from Moscow. “Because in that moment, I analyzed all the messages in my head! Like, when did he answer me? And when did the bot answer me? And what is the difference?”

‘There’s an app for that’

AI in dating is not exactly new. Some of the most popular dating apps on the market, from Bumble to Match Group’s Hinge and Tinder, have long relied on machine learning, both to calibrate possible matches and to shield users from unsolicited nude photos, bots and fraudsters.

But since the introduction of ChatGPT and other generative AI—which in the last year have finally made the technology a household name—entrepreneurs are finding new ways to apply it to dating, and many looking for love are adopting it at a rapid clip. Recent months have seen an explosion of everything from bots that’ll spit out pick-up lines and flirt for you to AI editors that’ll polish your dating profile and photo generators that can turn your bathroom selfies into high-quality headshots. (You can even get intimate with an AI “girlfriend” version of an influencer.)

All this has some bemoaning the sad dystopian state of romantic relationships, and others embracing the moment as a transformative one for human connection. More than a quarter of young Americans think algorithms can predict whether two people will fall in love, according to Pew data.

“Dating apps are probably one of the best areas to apply some of this weirder AI stuff,” said Sarah Kunst, founder and general partner of VC firm Cleo Capital who has also served as a senior advisor to Bumble. Though the tech might inspire more dating app fatigue or bad behavior, Kunst thinks it will also make things people were once embarrassed about or criticized for more accepted and mainstream.

“AI sort of destigmatizes a lot of the behaviors that before people were doing, but were kind of looked down on… stuff people have been doing a little bit more secretly [but] now all of a sudden, there’s an app for it,” she told Forbes, whether that’s Photoshopping or Facetuning or using automation to lighten the load of infinite swiping. “Once you’ve been on dating apps for God knows how many years, it gets to a point where you’re like, actually, is that such a bad idea?”

Lindsey Metselaar, host of the popular dating podcast “We Met At Acme,” said AI is making dating far more doable for busy people that simply don’t have the time to spend managing apps, and far more accessible for those who need advice but can’t afford a coach or matchmaking service.

“I think it’s really helpful,” she told Forbes. “If this AI bot has the same advice, or is programmed to have the same responses, as someone like me would tell them to say, then that’s a win.”

YourMove AI bills itself as an antidote to “exhausting” dating apps that allows users to “spend less time scrolling, and more time dating.” Since launching in late 2022, the app has helped some 250,000 users pen copy for their profiles as well as openers and responses to messages, and generate dating photos compatible with the leading platforms. Cofounder Dmitri Mirakyan, a self-described “really awkward person” in the past, said he built the tools for people like him, when he was single and needed help. (Many other startups offer similar features.)

“Online dating is weird. Human interaction on an algorithmic level is weird. All I’m trying to do is [put] people that I think are disadvantaged in the space—specifically folks that are introverted or navigating cultural change—on equal footing with everybody else,” he told Forbes. Being repeatedly turned down or ghosted after sending a message can be depleting, especially for those who are shy or don’t have much social energy to begin with, and “the AI almost gives a sense of safety in that,” Mirakyan said. “This isn’t me doing this; this is the app suggesting a thing. Like, I’m not getting rejected, the app is getting rejected.”

Karina Vyalshakaeva had no idea her fiance, Aleksandr Zhadan, found her with the help of AI.

Karina Vyalshakaeva had no idea she’d been algorithmically chosen and conversing with a bot built by her now-fiance, Aleksandr Zhadan, until they were already living together.

Aleksandr Zhadan

Though dating apps struggled with fraud and manipulation before AI, Mirakyan acknowledged that some emerging AI tools could make finding connections on these platforms worse. “I think there’s a risk for online dating, with some of the things that I’m doing, of creating backlash,” he said. “Because nobody wants to talk to a robot. Nobody wants to know that they’re talking to a robot. And I think there’s a major perception risk associated with that.”

Some founders in the space are trying to account for that. Cristina Vanko is building an audio-based dating app, Arrow, that requires users to send a voice recording to a potential partner to match. Even though AI voice deepfakes have been problematic for everyone from actors to President Joe Biden, Vanko thinks voice is crucial for online dating. She sees it as key to countering the AI boom that she thinks is leading to “a new way of catfishing personality”—forcing users to play more games and making the process of finding a relationship more stressful.

“You want to know that you’re connecting with the person itself—voice gets to the meat of that while you’re having a real conversation, figuring out their intentions, listening to the tone in their voice, and just having something to say,” Vanko said. “You’re gonna go on a date and have a conversation anyway, so why not [do that] right away and see if you even want to go?”

This surge of new AI startups will be a boon for the biggest tech players in the space, according to Kunst, Cleo Capital’s managing director who advised Bumble—but the incumbents are also rolling out fresh AI features of their own to compete. Match Group, parent of the dating apps leading the pack in the United States, declined to comment for this story. But the company told shareholders in January that it plans to roll out some of the same sorts of tools (aimed at curating profiles and photos, and improving the overall match journey) this year, investing up to $30 million in AI innovation.

They’re “working across the entire portfolio on moonshot ideas and incubating new products,” CEO Bernard Kim said on a recent earnings call. “This technology is revolutionary for dating.”

Who found ‘the one’

Sasha stopped using the bot once he and Karina began seriously dating; he instead set it up to periodically summarize messages with people he’d been talking to on Telegram. But he stopped dead in his tracks when it one day encouraged him to propose.

“Offer Karina to marry, emphasizing that your relationship is balanced and strong,” the bot said in a message in Russian translated and reviewed by Forbes. “Explain that you value your time together, attention to each other’s feelings, and share the details of everyday life. Express your desire to strengthen your relationship through marriage, emphasizing that this is a step towards creating a future together. Mention how you imagine her happy, dancing at the wedding and that this is a moment you would like to experience together.”

In January 2024, one year after they met in-person for the first time, Sasha proposed to Karina in Hong Kong. They’re planning to get married in August.

Asked whether it was Sasha, or the bot, that found “the one,” Karina replied, laughing: “I think the bot found me, for Sasha.”

But they hope to write their wedding vows on their own.

Rashi Shrivastava and Nina Bambysheva contributed reporting. This article was first published on

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