Chicago entrepreneur Ben Rosenfield recently took a break from working on his new networking app, Hero (launching this month), and managing his existing app company, Freebie, to star on Fox’s new dating reality show, “Coupled,” for which he and other bachelors were flown to Anguilla to meet with bachelorettes.
The premise of show is a more complex version of “The Bachelor,” and one where both the men and women have decision-making power. The 12 female participants meet each bachelor individually, then decide if they want to pursue him further. The bachelor then picks two of the women who have chosen him and takes them each on a date. Rather than contestants getting eliminated, the number of competing women decreases as each gets “coupled.”
“The show has [elements of] modern dating,” Rosenfield says. “One comes from, obviously, Tinder and Bumble, where you have to swipe right or left. … When the girls come to meet me, they have to [turn to] go left or right.” So how does he feel about swiping for his soulmate? While he uses the now-ubiquitous apps, he’s reasonably wary: “What exists today in dating is the superficiality of these apps. We decide so quickly whether someone’s good enough or not, and it really is hard to figure out if these are apps which promote a healthy formation of a relationship.”
In fact, Rosenfield is pretty old-fashioned when it comes to dating. “Modern dating like [on] the show, [with] texting, [consists of a] very surface-level communication … and there’s a lot lost there. When I date, I try to do things with more human connection.”
As one of the only Chicagoans on the show (Windy City actor Jeffrey Blockson will appear in upcoming episodes), Rosenfield didn’t feel the need to let his hometown pride stand in the way of making those connections. “I love Chicago,” he says. “[But] I don’t limit myself to my location for the person that I want to be with. … I believe in fate, and I believe that things happen for a reason. I’m willing to go the distance and make something work.”
He’s certainly a romantic, but Rosenfield still sees some value in making rapid, virtual connections. In fact, the format of apps like Tinder inspired his new creation, Hero, which allows freelancers in any business, from personal trainers to DJs, to connect to customers. “What these dating apps did was [reduce] the time it took to connect to another person,” Rosenfield explains. “And that’s what Hero’s doing.”
Tune into “Coupled” Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX.
Pictured: Ben Rosenfield with “Coupled”‘s host Terrence Jenkins