Celebrities Have Their Own Exclusive Dating App—And People Are Exposing It Online

It’s a well-known fact that celebrities will go to serious lengths to maintain some privacy. Their high-profile social lives, plus the non-stop media interest in their personal relationships, surely add some pressure to the dating game.

Enter: Raya. A super exclusive dating app that caters to celebrities, athletes, and other elite professionals who can manage to get accepted onto the networking app. That’s right, celebrities have their own online dating platform. Fortunately for commoners like us, some sneaky users have managed to pull back and expose some of what’s happening behind the Raya curtain.

The Founder Of Raya Wanted To “Solve A Big Problem For A Small Amount Of People”

Daniel Gendelman in navy blue shirt sitting in chair at event
Photo Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Pictured above is Daniel Gendelman, the founder of the premium dating app Raya.

In an interview with The New York Times, Gendelman said that when he launched the app in 2015, his goal was to create a dating app that specifically catered to people in the creative industry. Over the years, it has evolved into an elite invitation-only social network that has attracted some seriously high-profile people.

The Raya Website Is As Elusive As You Might Expect

Screenshot of homepage of Raya website
Photo Credit: rayatheapp.com
Photo Credit: rayatheapp.com

Raya could easily win an award for the world’s most minimalist website. The app relies on privacy and secrecy so it’s not surprising that the homepage of their website is a clear reflection of that.

The “What We Do” section explains that the application is “an online membership-community for dating, networking, and making new friends.”

It’s Harder To Be Accepted To Raya Than It Is To Get Into Harvard

iPhone with a purple background and padlock image on the screen
Image Credit: Franck / Unsplash
Image Credit: Franck / Unsplash

It has been referred to as “The Illuminati Tinder” due to its highly private nature and the extensive vetting that goes into selecting members.

The New York Times reported in early 2020 that the app had an acceptance rate of only 8%, with a waiting list of over 100,000. Predictably, that waitlist has only gotten longer in the last year and a half as people learn of the app.

If You Want To Date In The Big Leagues, It’s Going To Cost You

Woman wearing brown leather gloves holding phone in pink phone case, also holding credit card
Photo Credit: Tim Douglas / Pexels
Photo Credit: Tim Douglas / Pexels

Prospective members are required to complete an application that is assessed by a committee of hundreds of people from around the world, all unknown to one another.

Approved members will then be required to pay a monthly fee of $9.99. Their membership grants access to privacy features like pop-up warnings for screenshots, a cost on sending direct messages, and the risk of being removed from the app if you violate any rules. Turns out it’s much easier to get kicked off the app than it is to get on it.

A Handful Of Celebs Have Admitted To Using The App

Demi Lovato wearing a distressed acid-washed denim jacket holding microphone waving at camera
Photo Credit: Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images

Some celebrities have come right out and admitted to signing up for the premium app in search of a relationship.

In their documentary Simply Complicated, Demi Lovato revealed they had joined the dating app following their breakup with actor Wilmer Valderrama. Lovato ended up deleting it and was rejected acceptance when they attempted to rejoin. Ouch.

Lizzo Joined The App To Hunt For John Mayer

Lizzo wearing sequin blue gown with thigh high leg slit, at Brit Awards 2020
Photo Credit: Mike Marsland / WireImage
Photo Credit: Mike Marsland / WireImage

It had been widely reported that John Mayer was using Raya, and Lizzo saw her opportunity.

She told Busy Philipps on Busy Tonight that the reason she joined the app was to track down John Mayer. Realistically, if anyone can put John Mayer where he belongs, it’s Lizzo, but good luck to her.

Yikes! This Woman Exposed Ben Affleck

This woman’s TikTok detailing her experience matching and unmatching with Ben Affleck on Raya has been viewed more than 8 million times on TikTok alone.

She says she unmatched with the Batman actor when she thought it wasn’t actually him. He then sent her a personalized video on Instagram where he looks directly at the camera and says “Nivine, why did you unmatch me? It’s me.” But Nivine wasn’t about to keep that secret to herself. She shared the video online with the caption “Sorry Ben.”

Nivine’s Story Got Massive Attention, And Other Users Wanted In On It

Instagram selfie of Kate Haralson beside professional image of Matthew Perry
Photo Credit: @kateharalson / Instagram / Getty Images
Photo Credit: @kateharalson / Instagram / Getty Images

When Nivine’s video about matching with Ben Affleck blew up, it gave another Raya user the idea to share her similar experience on the app.

TikTok user @kittynichole uploaded video recordings of a private Facetime call with Friends actor Matthew Perry. Some people were weirded out by the fact that she was only 19 when the 51-year-old actor matched with her. She ended up receiving so much hate over her attempt to expose Perry that she deleted the video and turned her comments section off.

“I Should Have Expected That Would Happen. I Feel Fine About It.”

Screenshots from now-deleted TikTok video
Photo Credit: @deuxmoi.discussions / Instagram
Photo Credit: @deuxmoi.discussions / Instagram

The woman at the center of the Matthew Perry TikTok scandal spoke to PageSix to reveal that she had been booted from the app for violating their strict privacy policy.

The Raya website clearly states under the “Removal of a Member” section, “Every member is expected to follow our simple rules of respect, trust, and privacy.” Continuing to warn that “we reserve the right to suspend or remove any membership we no longer feel strengthens our community.” Looks like they exercised that right pretty quickly to shut this user down.

People (Including Celebrities) Are Weighing In On The Elite Dating Service

Image of Chrissy Teigen with Tweet overlayed:
Photo Credit: @chrissyteigen / Twitter / Canva
Photo Credit: @chrissyteigen / Twitter / Canva

Chrissy Teigen can smell a messy situation a mile away and she will definitely let you know what she thinks about it. She took to Twitter to share her opinion on the Raya controversy.

Ultimately she says that the middle-aged men sending “desperate” videos and the young women sharing them online are both in the wrong. After all, there is an option to select the age range you’re interested in matching with.

What Does The Future Of Raya Look Like?

Ben Affleck walking using cellphone
Photo Credit: BG004/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Photo Credit: BG004/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

As people become increasingly aware of which celebrities are using the app, it’s hard to imagine it will remain as exclusive as it has been in the past.

Even though the app is adamant that it will continue a rigorous vetting process for members, the few recent privacy breaches experienced by Ben Affleck and Matthew Perry are likely to deter some users from returning.