It’s that time of year again: the holiday of love is right around the corner. If you’re celebrating this Valentine’s Day without a boo, you’re probably dreading February 14th. You’re tired of striking out on Tinder, you can’t meet someone at a bar like you could in the good ole’ pre-pandemic days, and you’re just exhausted of waiting around for “the one” to walk into your life.

Well, imagine a world where your dating pool is filled to the brim with nothing but the best. You heard me: famous actors, athletes, models, and designers are at your fingertips at the touch of a button. Sound too good to be true? Well, guess what—it’s not.

What is Raya?

Let me introduce you to Raya, the social application that serves as the VIP section for those diving into online dating. Launched in February of 2015, the creators of Raya set out to form a dynamic network of accomplished, inspired individuals in hopes of establishing a safe space where like-minded people can connect for just $7.99 a month.

Coming up on its’ 5th birthday, it’s safe to say Raya has done this exceedingly well. With reports of celebrities like Cara Delevigne, Amy Schumer, Joe Jonas, and Ben Affleck using the site, according to Business Insider, it’s gained quite the reputation for being one of the most private, exclusive apps on the market (I mean where else can you casually match with Channing Tatum?).

Though, before you whip out your phone to start creating an account, I have to be honest with you—Raya is pretty picky. Coined the “you can’t sit with us,” social app by Vogue, you have to jump through a variety of hoops before you can get past Raya’s virtual velvet ropes. According to the New York Times, only about 8% of applicants end up being successful.

Yeah, that’s right, applicants. In order to be considered for a spot at the cool kids’ table, you have to submit an application. Because Raya strives to create an environment where A-list actors and world-renowned innovators feel comfortable to meet people without fearing they’ll face paparazzi, they pride themselves on their strict protocol. Let me walk you through it.

If you’ve spent any time scrolling through Raya you might get the wrong impression. While it’s definitely very popular with men of all ages as well as younger women, there are a LOT of older women (Drew Barrymore, Amy Schumer, Whitney Cummings, etc.) using it too. Now, this isn’t exactly one of the best cougar dating apps we’ve tried but it certainly has its charms. It’s really interesting to see just how much more willing older, more established, women are willing to put themselves out there and go after what they want. It really is a great example for women to take control of their own dating lives and relationships and be proactive.

How to Sign Up for Raya

Before you start filling out the application, your first priority needs to be finding connections. Because Raya is heavily focused on ensuring members of the app share “a common bond with fellow members of the community,” they want to make sure you’ll fit in with your fellow love-seekers before giving you the green light. This is why all applicants are required to have a referral that’s already using the app. This way a trusted source can vouch for how you’ll add to the Raya community without causing trouble. 

After that step, it’s time to focus on you. If you can’t already tell, Raya is pretty concerned about how you’re perceived, so making a good first impression is key. Making sure your image is spotless and your social media is soaring is a must when becoming a member. The committee at Raya doesn’t just want to know what you do, but the characteristics of your career. How did you get where you are? What makes you creative or innovative in a way that sets you apart from others? How will you fit in with those who are already a part of the Raya community? You get the gist.

The same goes for your social media. Having an impressive follower account will score you some major points with the Raya committee. On top of that, posting about your accomplishments, creations, connections, and how you’re giving back to the community is always a good idea when pitching the best version of yourself. Oh, and the little blue checkmark you get if you’re verified most definitely does not hurt. (They’re also just covering their bases to make sure you’re not a catfish sneaking your way in under false pretenses.)

Getting Approved by the Committee

After that, your application is in the hands of “hundreds of committee members spread throughout the world,” according to their website. I wish I could tell you all you have to do is cross your fingers for a week or two to see if you made the cut, but that isn’t the case. Because Raya is constantly getting submissions, you could be accepted/declined in a couple of days or be left waiting a year—your fate lies in the mysterious hands of the “committee”. Though, don’t feel bad if you’re turned away or left on the waiting list; even Demi Lovato was rejected once upon a time. Though she was eventually accepted, if the singer and actress we all know and love (who also has 98.5 million followers on Instagram) can get denied, we’re all at risk of facing the chopping block.

So, if you fall into the exclusive group of creators that fit into the Raya community, don’t hesitate to sign up. With a 4.5 star rating on the app store, many users have reported having positive experiences and finding meaningful connections on the app.

Or, if you’re like the majority of people afraid their application will be rejected within the first few minutes of review, all I have to say is: why not? If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, what do you have to lose? Grab a box of chocolates, a glass of wine, and get to creating your application. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be accepted and get one step closer to snagging a date of your dreams.

Have any experiences using the Raya dating app? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.