The Dating App Conundrum

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Ever stop to think a bit about dating apps? The truth is, you don’t have to be using them to see that they’re having a big impact on our social media-driven world. And a lot of people are saying so.

Last September, Vanity Fair published an article by Nancy Jo Sales called “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse.'”

It talks about how all the many dating apps, and in particular Tinder, were essentially transforming the relationship world into more of a swipe-right, swipe-left hook-up culture.

By the end of her article Sales asks:

So where is this all going to go? What happens after you’ve come of age in the age of Tinder? Will people ever be satisfied with a sexual or even emotional commitment to one person? And does that matter? Can men and women ever find true intimacy in a world where communication is mediated by screens; or trust, when they know their partner has an array of other, easily accessible options?

In other words, if men and women can get regular, anonymous sexual gratification whenever they want it, will they ever opt for something more long lasting and committed?

I recently spotted another article about dating apps called “The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue,” by Julie Beck. This Atlantic article approached the subject from a little different angle.

Beck didn’t agree that the many apps out there would cause a relational “apocalypse,” but she did concur that the techy approach to relationships is reshaping our view of how getting to know a potential love interest can and should work. And it comes packing problems.

Beck suggests that:

It’s possible dating app users are suffering from the oft-discussed paradox of choice. This is the idea that having more choices, while it may seem good … is actually bad. In the face of too many options, people freeze up. They can’t decide which of the 30 burgers on the menu they want to eat, and they can’t decide which slab of meat on Tinder they want to date. And when they do decide, they tend to be less satisfied with their choices, just thinking about all the sandwiches and girlfriends they could have had instead.

That makes total sense. If you have this never-ending scroll of faces and bodies to quickly sift through, one after another in a matter of minutes, isn’t there always going to be someone “better” just another screen swipe away? And on top of that, what sort of person have you missed out on in your flick-a-screen haste? Let’s face it, both sociological research and common sense tell us that relationships change over time. Somebody that you’re not necessarily attracted to at first swipe, er, sight, might become much more attractive once you get to know them and find out what you have in common.

So, with those conversation provokers in mind, I thought it would be fun if I made a quick scan of the web for a few random dating app stories that might illustrate what Sales and Beck are talking about. You know, a few out-of-the-horse’s-mouth words to add more fuel to this techy new-world fire.

Kevinmeowertons said:

Mine is probably pretty normal for most other people, but I drove about 25 mins to meet this girl and take her to lunch. She was so boring and was literally on Tinder half the time. I ended up making an excuse and taking her home.

Elle 22 posted:

I met a guy on Tinder and drove to a different state just to meet up with him. When I found him on Facebook later that night—after we hooked up—I realized he was cheating on his girlfriend with me. Not OK!

Ashley 27 wrote:

A guy once messaged me the following on OK Cupid: ‘Meet me at my house dressed as a lobster. I will be in a suit made of latex.

And those are a few of the relatively repeatable quotes.

The point is, this smartphone swipe-on-the-fly dating trend may not necessarily be a “Dating Apocalypse,” but it sure offers up a whole lot of potential stumbles for today’s singles. And it’s hard to say where it will all go.

Who wrote this?

Bob Hoose is a senior associate editor for Plugged In, a producer/writer for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey, a writer of plays and musicals and one-half of the former comedy/drama duo Custer & Hoose. He is a husband, father of three and a relatively new granddad.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Marissa More than 1 year ago
Nobody forces single people to use Tinder. People who want casual hookups will use it; people who don't, won't, and will continue looking for a committed relationship in more traditional places. (Which doesn't just have to equal "real life," either. I'm not overly familiar with dating websites, but places like eHarmony seem to take matching more seriously than apps like Tinder.)

In other words, Tinder can't hurt your dating life if you don't use it. 
B Evans More than 1 year ago
But it encourages and normalizes the notion of hooking up, which has several negative societal consequences, and even those who don't use tinder will be affected as those they try to maintain their values in an environment that doesn't respect them. Certainly, this could be beneficial, as a kind of "see separating the wheat from the chaff" scenario - those interested in seriously dating will have fewer serious daters to choose from, and other dating websites that focus on serious relationships, like eHarmony, will serve as that medium. However, the other negative social consequences of a "tinder society," even if serious daters find a way around it, cannot be ignored.