During the Swiping America finale in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ashleigh Warren took a huge step. She and Jess, with whom she had the most consistent relationship throughout the monthslong experience, both deleted dating apps from their phones. There was nothing as ceremonious as handing out a rose or dramatically proposing, just a low-key conversation about where things could go and a simple act to back those words up.
In the aftermath of the series, Warren and the other three Swiping America leads — Reagan Baker, Krishnanand Kelkar, and Kesun Lee — are coy about whether or not that relationship or any others from the show stuck. When Primetimer asked a question about everyone’s relationship status, we were met with nervous laughter and shifty eyes — Lee and Warren do casually confirmed that they still don’t have rocks on their fingers, but there’s no solid answer as to whether anyone is still single. But that secrecy is just as well, because Swiping America was never just about coupling up, and the leads confirm that there was so much more to take away from their cross-country dating tour than a romantic partner.
That’s not to say there aren’t major changes to report. Lee, left New York City, where the quartet lived before filming, to live in Charleston, South Carolina. “I think one of my reactions from post filming and coming off of this huge experience, I kind of got addicted to a little bit of change,” Lee tells Primetimer. “So I f*cking up and moved.”
Even more so than finding a forever partner, moving from city to city throughout the show exposed the daters to new kinds of people and a new pace of life. Part of the problem each of them had with dating in New York City was running into what Lee calls “all variations of a specific type of weirdo,” many of whom aren’t sure where their lives are headed. People in different parts of the country, they all discovered, move a little more slowly, giving them even more time to figure out exactly who and what they want.
“In New York it’s considered a little dorky to admit that you want to settle down, a lot of people kind of want to stay young forever,” Baker says. “I found that everywhere we went most of the people were pretty articulate about what they were looking for.”
And when the core four were able to step away from their own bustling lives, it was easier for them to each realize what they were actually looking for as well. For many of them, that meant growing even more comfortable and satisfied with the thought of being alone.
“I would rather be single and happy and living my life and enjoying my friendships than being in a relationship that is not exactly the right fit or doesn’t completely make me happy or is slowly killing me,” Lee says with a laugh.
The changes in each dater’s confidence in themselves is apparent throughout the series, and it seems that has only continued to grow post-filming. Baker proudly declares that she’s not on a deadline and has no problem living without a “warm body” during periods when she’s dating around or completely alone. Warren found the slower pace of life refreshing even when it made her uncomfortable, and is now embracing that speed of living. And Kelkar seems to have evolved the most, more closely analyzing the reasons behind how he used to present himself to potential matches.
“I really spent a lot of time constructing a version of myself that I thought would appeal to a lot of people, and I think that got in my own way,” Kelkar says. “Growing comfortable with yourself is the first step, but then also projecting that out into the world and feeling comfortable with the feedback you get. Not everyone’s going to like you and honestly confronting that and knowing it is a form of love, that I think I grew from this experience. And it also means that the love you do receive is going to be so much more authentic and I think that’s a really great way to navigate the world.”
While it’s slightly disappointing for the hopeless romantics among us that there’s no public declaration of a newfound lifelong love found via the show, there’s a pretty satisfying consolation prize. These four people formed a forever friendship bond, and did so as adults, which in itself is no easy task. That’s in many ways an even more aspirational and romantic ending.
“Figuring out that, oh my gosh, you can make great friends in your 30s,” Warren says, with an over-exaggerated look of disbelief. “I thought I had all my best friends already, how’d I get three at one time? I’m really grateful for it.”
Swiping America Season 1 is streaming on Max.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.