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“I think the funniest thing about this app — the best thing about this app besides it being an astrology dating app…” said , a 23-year-old named Glorianna, “is that while I was filling out my profile, it asked me if ‘I don’t want to see or be seen by straight people.'”
, a filmmaker and photographer based in Connecticut, pointed out the feature on the . The app utilizes a similar like/pass model as other dating apps, but also gives users the opportunity to view the other person’s birth chart and calculate astrological compatibility.
Once users download NUiT they complete their profile, which is partially like that on other apps as it involves uploading photos. Then, the user gives info like time and place of birth to accurately assess one’s birth chart. Users share their current knowledge of astrology, ranging from not knowing anything to being an expert. They can also share what they’re looking for on the app, with a selection ranging from friendship to marriage to “don’t know yet.”
When users complete their profile, they’re met with a batch of random potential matches. Each potential match’s profile has three sections: an About page (similar to bios on Bumble); Birth Chart (if they choose not to hide them); and Compatibility, which is initiated by a tap and based on birth charts. The app calculates your compatibilities using a complex algorithm, according to Haley Comet, NUiT’s lead astrologer.
In an interview with Mashable, Glorianna said she downloaded the app partly because she doesn’t want to see straight men.
“That’s just not what I’m looking for specifically on this app,” she said. “So it’s cool that I could choose to not see it.” She’s far from the only one to do so — fans of the feature said so on social media:
Chara Dela, co-creator of NUiT, told Mashable that the support from the queer community feels amazing, and credits users for the app’s growth.
But it’s not too surprising that a dating app steeped in astrology would have a feature for queer users to weed out heterosexual ones. While the astrology community hasn’t always embraced the queer community, the connection between them isn’t new. As Heather Dockray wrote for Mashable in 2018, astrologer Ptolemy utilized the stars to obtain wisdom on gender and sexuality; he created a sort of “ancient equivalent to the Kinsey scale” according to author Chris Brennan. Fast forward two millennia when in 2013, queer astrologers held the first , and it’s still held yearly (its ). Three years ago, an opened its doors in Brooklyn with the intention of being a queer space.
Natalie Frangi, who created NUiT along with Dela, told Mashable that the feature came from her own experiences on dating apps, where some straight women masquerade as queer in order to “unicorn hunt.”
To that end, Dela said it’s important to the team to include features that their community values. One example she noted was the non-binary gender option, which apps like Tinder have integrated as well; their team plans to cater to more gender expressions in the future, and acknowledges that there are more expressions than currently offered on the app:
Comet is bisexual and appreciates the “straight people” feature for this reason. “I have found that it’s really difficult to meet women [on apps] because so often they’re straight women who are seeking threesomes,” she told Mashable. “That has been my experience on a lot of dating apps, and it kind of makes me feel… sexualized in a way.”
NUiT looks different from both other dating apps and other astrology apps like in that it’s a marriage between the two. The seed of the app idea was planted years ago when a friend offered Frangi to do a reading of a synastry chart — a love and relationship compatibility chart — for her. She was blown away.
“I realized how in-depth Astrology Compatibility can be in highlighting accurately the strengths of a union and the areas that require further work on,” she said of that first reading. “[And] how much information it can reveal pertaining to the dynamics and challenges of a relationship, almost like having a relationship therapist dissect the relationship and reveal the inner workings of the union and the individuals.”
She saw the value in seeing a potential connection’s chart even before a relationship began, and wanted to use synastry in a dating app.
Frangi also believed other apps on the market were shallow. “Everything was so superficial that you didn’t get a deeper understanding of the person, to me, just based on the profile or the content,” said Frangi.
“We wanted to create something that wasn’t based on just looks,” said Dela.
Both Frangi and Dela are based in Greece, the birthplace of astrology. The pair and their team started working on the app in 2017, and it launched fully in May 2018. They named the app after Nuit, the (which is also the French word for “night”) as well as the double entendre of the pronunciation: “knew it,” as in the cosmos knew your fate.
NUiT recently gained traction from a viral TikTok Glorianna made. This one — posted before the video about the “straight people” feature — gives a rundown on what the app is:
Glorianna discovered NUiT when she looked for an astrology dating app in the App Store. She had tried other dating apps in the past, but found them intimidating and not based on personality.
She searched for a dating app based in astrology because of compatibility charts. “The stars are literally telling you that you’re compatible,” she said. She downloaded NUiT but didn’t see many people in her area among scrolling through, which inspired her to make the TikTok.
Glorianna thought the video would encourage a few people to download NUiT, but she didn’t expect her endorsement to become so popular. Now in the weeks since, she’s seen more and more people on NUiT. “When I’m on the app now,” she said, “It’s profile on profile on profile on profile — there’s so many people on the app, which is really cool.”
The app currently has 200,000 downloads, according to Dela, mostly in the US and either millennial and Generation Z.
I’ve dabbled in astrology myself — as a queer woman living in Brooklyn, it’s pretty much par the course — and when I downloaded NUiT I picked “I know about sun and rising signs” for my astrology knowledge. When I saw how much the app delved into the practice, I assumed they must’ve consulted astrologers when creating the app.
Indeed they did: Astrologers like Comet have been involved with the creation of NUiT, and Frangi emphasized the importance of using experts. “I’m a scientist,” said Frangi, who has a background in chemistry. She said that one can’t research science if they haven’t first studied it. The same goes for astrology, which is why the app needed astrologers according to Frangi.
Comet herself was already entrenched in the astrology community when she became involved with NUiT. “When I saw the app I automatically was like, ‘Wow what a cool idea,'” she said. Comet has also felt a strong pull to Greece due to her passion for astrology, her fascination with Greek mythology, and her love of Mediterranean food; her connection deepened during a study abroad trip. When she discovered the NUiT team was based in Greece, she felt it was a signal to get involved and she contacted them. While she didn’t join the team right away, she first connected with them on Instagram and supported them from afar. Now, she works on marketing the app as well as being the lead astrologer.
Users are given batches of seven potential matches at a time, and they can “star,” decline, or just scroll pass them. Unlike Tinder or Bumble, you not only see multiple people at a time but scroll through their profiles at your own pace. This is in contrast to Tinder and Bumble’s hot-or-not-esque model where you see one profile, make a quick judgment, and move onto the next. If you’re not happy with the users in the batch, you can swipe all the way left to “reshuffle cards,” thus refreshing the app for a new set of potential matches. There’s no endless scroll of people as on major apps.
In addition to the dating app portion, NUiT offers daily horoscopes and birth chart information as does Co—Star or The Pattern. While Glorianna downloaded NUiT to meet people, she’s been using its more personal and educational astrology content recently given that her priority wasn’t dating at the time of our interview, but specifically on protesting for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality.
While there is or any other sun sign, Comet said that much more than star sign compatibility goes into the app, like all the planets and the 12 houses of the Zodiac. Cutting off entire signs “isolates a bunch of potential connections and a bunch of potential lessons that you can learn through another individual,” said Comet. That’s not to say that users can’t judge solely on star sign, but there’s a wealth of astrological information they’d have to gloss over to do so.
Further, the point of the app isn’t just to talk to people users have “high” compatibility with according to Comet. The app offers several paragraphs of insight into these potential strengths and challenges “It illuminates the potential of our connections,” she said.
Comet used an example of a woman she met pre-coronavirus who she had a high business score with. It turned out she was a freelancer, like herself, and they developed a working relationship.
“It’s really important not to limit ourselves because we never know how people can interact with us and we never know where the connection can grow,” she said.
In addition to growing connections, NUiT’s team also hopes to grow the app itself in terms of its user base and features. They plan on enriching user profiles and making the distinction between people who want friendship and dating more clear, as well as to add more gender options to provide users with “holistic freedom to specify their gender and identify themselves,” according to Frangi and Dela. As the app is based in astrology, they also plan on adding more astrology content like visualizations and personalized astrology forecasts.
For now, NUiT is nestled in the intersection of the astrology and queer communities — seen by straight people, or not.