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Dating apps have undoubtedly revolutionized how people find love and connect with others. 3 in 10 US adults say they have used an online dating service (website or app). The convenience and accessibility of dating apps have made it easier for individuals to meet potential partners, but it has also contributed to some negative impacts on the dating scene. In this article, we will explore why dating apps can be detrimental to the dating experience.
Research from William Chopik, an associate professor in the Michigan State University Department of Psychology, and Dr. David Johnson from the University of Maryland, finds that people’s reason for swiping right is based primarily on attractiveness and the race of a potential partner and that decisions are often made in less than a second.
One of the primary criticisms of dating apps is that they tend to focus on superficial qualities rather than deeper compatibility. Users are often swiping through potential matches based on their physical appearance rather than considering their personalities or values. This can lead to a culture of shallow and superficial dating, where people are judged solely on their looks and not their character.
Another issue with dating apps is that they can promote a culture of inauthenticity. Users often present an idealized version, i.e., a highlight reel of themselves online, carefully curating their profiles to showcase their best qualities. This can lead to a lack of transparency and honesty in the dating process, making it harder for people to form genuine connections.
A 2020 study by Pew Research found that one-third of women using dating apps have been called an abusive name, and almost half of women had men continue to pursue them online after they said no. That’s double the rate that men experience. Dating apps can contribute to the dehumanization of potential partners.
When people are reduced to a profile picture and a short bio, it can be easy to forget that they are real human beings with complex emotions and experiences. This can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding in the dating process, making it harder for people to form meaningful connections with others.
The sheer volume of potential matches on dating apps can also lead to burnout. The 70 million adults in America that use dating apps have developed a rejection mindset that makes dating feel particularly unpromising and exhausting.
Users are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available to them, which can lead to decision fatigue and a feeling of being emotionally drained. This can make it harder for people to put effort into any one relationship, as they are constantly wondering if there might be someone better out there.
5. Catfishing and scams
Dating apps are also notorious for catfishing and scams. Users can easily create fake profiles or misrepresent themselves online, leading to disappointment or even danger when users meet in person. This can lead to a lack of trust in the online dating process, making it harder for people to form genuine connections.
In 2019, the Columbia School of Journalism in New York City and news site ProPublica found that the Match Group, which owns around 45 dating apps, only screens for sex offenders on its paid-for apps, not free platforms like Tinder, OKCupid and Hinge. While some work has been done to correct the lack of fraud prevention in online dating, there’s a loophole in American internet law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which dictates sites can’t be held accountable for the harm that comes to third parties through their platforms.
6. Limited communication
Dating apps can limit communication between potential partners. Users are often limited to texting or messaging, and without the benefit of face-to-face interaction, it can be harder to gauge a person’s true character or intentions, leading to misunderstandings or miscommunications.
7. No in-app advertising transparency
Finally, and perhaps the best (worst?) for last. Major dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge lack any sort of in-app advertising transparency. Users are constantly upsold on more premium features like boosting a profile for 1 hour to be seen by more members, but there’s never any reporting data on impressions made, engagement, clicks, etc. Ad performance data is available across all digital platforms, such as Google and Meta, but appears nonexistent within the dating apps space.
In conclusion, while dating apps have undoubtedly made it easier for people to meet potential partners, they have also contributed to some negative impacts on the dating scene. Superficiality, inauthenticity, dehumanization, burnout, catfishing and scams, limited communication and lack of in-app advertising transparency are all potential downsides to using dating apps.
While they can be useful for meeting people, it’s essential to approach them cautiously and be aware of their limitations. Ultimately, the best way to find a meaningful relationship is by getting to know someone in person through genuine interactions and communication.
The number one contributing factor to finding a mate is proximity, i.e., if I want to find someone interested in nonfiction books, I need to go to book readings with nonfiction book authors, or salsa classes for salsa aficionados or dog parks for dog lovers. The point is to know your values and go to places with people who share the same values as you do.