- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dreading the prospect of rejection and embarrassment in the romantic crapshoot known as Valentine’s Day?

There’s now an app for that.

Vowing to “take friendships further,” the company TrintMe is offering an app allowing users to privately set their true intentions, or “trints,” for their Facebook friends. Users can look through their Facebook page, mark if they would like to have coffee, go to dinner or even “hook up” with one of their friends. The would-be significant other will not see the user’s “trint” unless he or she is also a user and expresses a desire for the same interaction.

TrintMe founder V.S. Joshi said the app is not like a traditional online dating site, where huge masses of strangers sift through other masses of strangers in search of a soul mate.

“Online dating helps you find new people. We don’t do that,” said Mr. Joshi. TrintMe is designed to help users connect with the person sitting two cubicles away or their partner in chemistry class — assuming the attraction is mutual.

While Internet dating sites — both general and targeted — have proliferated on the Web, online pioneers are constantly exploring ways to use newfangled means to express old-fashioned sentiment.

My Love Checker is another less-flashy Facebook app that works much like TrintMe. Users select friends whom they would want to go out with or spend the night with and then wait to see if others have put them in the same list. If so, they will both receive a notification. Ellona Inc.’s “Lovendar” app is a private two-person sharing program that allows those in a relationship to share wish lists, gift ideas, thoughts, plans, date ideas, notes and memories, and keep a timeline of their experiences together.

Colleges throughout the country, including Georgetown and George Washington, have established so-called “compliments” pages for students to post anonymous compliments and encouragement to a fellow student. The moderators will then post the compliment, usually with a link to the page of the person or group being complimented if possible.

TrintMe is not limited to the user’s Facebook friends, but will also show you “friends of friends” to make connections with as well. And all “trints” are deleted after a 30-day period.

Mr. Joshi said the idea came from his own experience in college asking women out and being turned down “right and left and center.” He had not been hurt by the rejection, but he did regret the way his relationships with the women who turned him down changed.

After graduating, Mr. Joshi met up with a friend from school who admitted to liking him and wanted to know why he had never asked her out.

“I thought of asking her out, but I didn’t because of my previous experience,” he recalled. “Life would have been completely different for both of us if we weren’t fearful of taking the next step.”

TrintMe has won multiple Web awards, including the Big Idea Competition Award and the BETA challenge award, and is currently part of a global case study being conducted at King’s College in London.

Some changes have been made to the original app, including dropping a “Matchmaker” feature, which allowed users to suggest friends to each other.

While it is currently free, TrintMe is discussing how to generate revenue, including ads on where to meet your connection or paying tokens.

One of the Stanford professors advising TrintMe has already suggested the idea could be expanded to other platforms involving negotiation, in the same way that the LinkedIn tracks and refines the Facebook model.

“Once we get a number of users, we’ll look into that,” said Mr. Joshi.