Dating apps: they're controversial, but they're here to stay. Tinder is the first app that comes to most people's minds when they think of dating apps, and with good reason. Tinder is turning 10 this year, cementing it as one of the longest-running online dating apps ever.
It gives people a chance to touch base with a wide variety of singles who can see at a glance if they share a number of things; hobbies, values, attraction and life goals among them.
But online dating is also exhausting, and spending year after year searching for what feels like a unicorn may be burning people out even as they try to hold onto hope.
Tinder Turns 10
Tinder first swept onto the scene in Los Angeles, California, in 2012.
Before Tinder, the way to meet someone was by begging for your friend to introduce you, bar-hopping, attending parties, or shooting your shot with classmates or people you meet through work. Everything else was pure luck.
Tinder of course changed all that. Not only could people swipe through singles from the comfort (and safety) of their phone, choosing from a huge array of options not usually available, but they could tap in that easy hook-up without any effort.
Metro writes, "Tinder is now available in 190 countries, has been downloaded more than 505 million times and led to more than 70 billion matches.
Every single day, there are four billion swipes made by people looking for love or sex. Every week Tinder is responsible for 1.5 million dates.
It has spawned countless marriages and babies (shout out to the man who supported his Tinder date when she went into labour and is now co-parenting with her)."
But it's not all roses. A 2016 University of North Texas study found that Tinder users have a lower self-esteem, with men suffering the most.
Dating App Burnout is Real
While online dating is a boon to many, exposing you to people you wouldn't normally come across in your day-to-day life and expanding your circle of possibilities, it's also mentally and emotionally draining.
Online interactions are naturally fraught, because you're already starting out on a medium where lying is as easy as typing. So to start with, you're already on guard and trying to figure out if the person on the other side of the screen is telling you the truth. There are catfish and liars, including the infamous "Tinder Swindler."
In addition, while it may be nice to meet people you otherwise wouldn't, it also means there's no connection to start from and no background to work with. You can't ask your cousin if they're a nice person, because no one you know may know them at all.
- Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who is a senior research fellow with the Kinsey Institute and chief science adviser to Match.com, told the New York Times.
People just get fatigued. They get overwhelmed with the whole dating process.
And dating apps are, at the end of the day, set up for profit. That means that they benefit from convincing you that you have more options than you do, and that the "right one" is just around the corner. So people write off relationships they might otherwise enjoy, hoping to feel that "certain something" when they get to the next one, and the next one, and so on.
Many people find themselves using dating apps chronically, some even for the entire lifetime of Tinder so far, and it's leading to a love burnout that can either turn quickly into hook-up culture out of exasperation, or lead to people giving up altogether.
The New York Times writes that it's not all gloom and doom, though; " The 2020 Pew survey found that 12 percent of Americans have married or been in a committed relationship with someone they met online, while 57 percent of those who said they’d tried a dating app said their experience was somewhat, if not very, positive.
'I think it’s important to keep in mind that mental health dynamics on hookup apps vary widely by the individual,' said Dr. Jack Turban, an incoming assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who researches gender and sexuality. He said that the mental health impacts of dating apps had been understudied, but that many people had used them to successfully find community and connection."
There's definitely some advantages to being able to swipe through available singles and spend as little or as much time as you want getting to know them, especially if you already know you share something in common. But they, like all social media, should be consumed with caution. And remember, you are the product they're selling - so keep that in mind and don't fall victim to their "just one more swipe" mentality, potentially missing out on the person of your dreams in search of something that may not exist.