With over 8,000 sites, over 1,500 apps to choose from, and 300 million adults using dating apps worldwide, it is hard to dispute the staggering reach and success rates of dating apps.
Online dating services allow us to network and connect with new people. With the launch of Match.com in 1995, there was a recorded increase in interracial marriages, maybe owing to the app’s ability to browse the viable dating pool with a greater level of safety and security from prejudice one might otherwise encounter. Among the LGBTQ+ community, a “sexual revolution” was coined and sparked with the release of Grindr in 2009. With a reported 70 per cent of same-sex relationships beginning through dating apps, it would be imprudent to deny the benefits of online dating.
Knowing that you have a catalogue of options has not been lost on people who are vying to find their next forever. Over 300 million people use dating apps worldwide. With dating apps’ overwhelming popularity, resisting the temptation to download these virtual matchmakers, for myself, has proven difficult.
The fear of missing out is constant when it comes to the dating world. After hearing your friends — who promised to lie about the origin of their union being a bee-decaled app — talk about how perfect they and their partner are together at what was supposed to be singles game night, it is easy to give in. Navigating the dating world is difficult, and my singlehood gave me the push I needed to set up a profile, pick six of my best and least catfishy photos, hand select three meaningless prompts that will make my future husband know I was indefinitely and unequivocally the one, and press “OK.”
However, the assurance of “I’m just window shopping” quickly turns into “why hasn’t he texted me back by now,” and “are we still on for Saturday night mojitos?” Though an estimated 40 per cent of current users have confirmed they have begun a serious relationship through these apps, 20 per cent have reported to have experienced significantly heightened levels of psychological distress from swipe-based dating apps.
My on-again, off-again, hate-to-love, love-to-hate relationship with online dating has caused me to download the trifecta — Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder — three times each, just to become immensely disappointed with the target audience the artificial intelligence brutally curated for me. It is all fun and games until swarms of boys pretending to like Taylor Swift, holding fish, using my name as some cute and sexual pun, and telling me — with my staggering five-feet-eight-inches stature — that they normally don’t date tall women creep into my Bridget Jones Friday nights.
If I learned anything from PSY100 — Introductory Psychology — it is that it takes merely seven seconds to know if I am physically attracted to someone. More organic, less technologically advantaged means of finding love allow you to better weed out the swarms to whom you would otherwise not be romantically attracted to, leading to significantly less failed attempts at dating and responses to the question of my favourite colour. It’s yellow, by the way.
Perhaps this is an inevitable tradeoff with dating apps — access to a wider variety of matches allow for more chances at immediate success, but also more chances at failure. With what the kids like to call “vibes” being pertinent to solidifying an honest connection with someone, dating apps fail in the sense where connecting people who are single is prioritized over those who are compatible. The real-world approach allows for easier-to-read body language, less ambiguity on what each party is looking for in a relationship, and knowing sooner whether there is a connection that could be pursued.
The sad reality of these apps is their unpredictability and their promotion of hookup culture, putting the focus of dating on looks and whether my date was able to finish the lyrics to my prompt with an easy Google search. The inorganic nature of online dating — through its awkward expression of romantic, sexual, or physical interest — has inhibited an overwhelming majority from enjoying the spontaneity of love, those first glances and look down smiling moments, and the iconic meet cutes that get retold at family dinners.
Maybe I won’t get the ‘walk around the corner and the brooding brunet knocks over my books’ rom com moment, but surely I won’t be settling for an ‘are you the girl on the right or the left?’ disaster. I know by this point that putting my sanity on the line to be that 40 per cent, with the risk of that 20 per cent, is just poor odds.
Is this my time to keep waiting for my Prince Charming? Do I finally listen to my happily dating friends when they tell me “it comes when you stop looking”? Do I just have to cry into my ice cream tub watching Bridget Jones dance to “All By Myself” for the hundredth time? Yes, yes, and unequivocally, yes.