You might be currently feeling as though every single person you know is also on at least one dating app, and many of them on more than one app. You might well be a dating app user yourself, and why not? They’re convenient, most often free — or at least free to try out until you can determine whether it’s worth paying — easy to use and more. But most importantly they are fast and efficient when it comes to making new romantic connections, especially hook-ups.
But is getting more dates and hook-ups in a shorter time really such a good thing in the long term? Does the speed and convenience of dating apps make them “worth it”? In today’s blog, we’re taking a balanced look at dating apps to see whether it’s the pros or cons that come out on top.
What Are the Advantages of Dating Apps?
They Remove the Need for Courage
Dating in the past meant first plucking up enough courage to ask someone for their phone number, and then gathering up even more of that same courage to call them for the first time and ask to go on a date. One of the reasons so many people felt left out in the world of traditional dating is that they just couldn’t muster that bravery required to take the all-important first steps.
For the nervous multitudes, dating apps are a true wonder. They remove the sting of initiating contact, first by filtering your contacts through a matching process first, which gives you confidence to say hello to people that the system has paired you with. Even without that filtering, the sting is also removed by the fact that “rejection” on a dating app can be as straightforward as not getting a reply to a “hello,” or perhaps a brusque reply “not interested, sorry.” At any rate, all of these are far easier to process than a very visible rejection in a bar, or other public place.
You can talk with multiple people simultaneously
Dating in the past meant meeting one person at a time, getting their phone number, going out with them, getting to know them — perhaps sleeping with them, too — before then either sticking with that person or moving onto the next target. Even if you were seriously out there looking for a real relationship and not just bed-hopping, you could only realistically see one person at a time. Dating apps have changed all of that.
When using a dating app, you can have those all-important first conversations with perhaps a dozen or more people all at once. You don’t have to date all these people, but you can filter through more people more quickly until you find a great match that genuinely excites and interests you. What could have taken a year or more to achieve in old-fashioned dating can be done over a single weekend of chatting on an online dating app.
There’s a lot of information available before you even say hello
Another great thing about dating apps is how the profile information allows you to get a kind of “snapshot” of a person — not to mention their real snapshot profile photos — before you even say hello. Before dating apps, most people only ever had looks to go on when encountering a person for the first time. With an app, you have their entire profile to work from, including info on height, build, hobbies and interests, and a personal intro that gives you some insight into their personality. How is that not a huge advantage in the dating world?
Matching can be an excellent foundation to start a new relationship
Most dating apps now use some form of matching function before they allow people to start chatting. Some remain a more kind of free and open ecosystem where anyone can approach anyone, but through features like Tinder’s swiping left and right mechanism, people can connect with people that they ultimately stand a better chance of forming a real connection with. That cuts down on searching time, but also brings more people together based on what they have in common. That’s usually a stronger foundation for any relationship than just looks.
What Are the Disadvantages of Dating Apps?
Their costs can really add up
Platforms like eHarmony cost hundreds of dollars for an annual subscription, and while there was a time when this was the exceptional rate, it is now much closer to a norm. Any user of a major platform can expect to have to spend at least $15 a month to access useful features. If you’re across multiple platforms, those costs really start to add up.
Many are dominated by those engaging in hook-up culture
It’s no secret that the term “dating app” has become almost synonymous with “hook-up app” and hook-up culture more generally. Some people blame the increasingly transactional nature of sex on apps that they believe make light of sexual contact, and fuel a destructive need for instant gratification in our society. Not everyone agrees, of course, and there are a wide variety of different apps that can challenge this narrative. Nonetheless it remains a powerful viewpoint that’s difficult to resist.
There are often many fake profiles
Another negative consequence of wider and wider use of dating apps has been the spread of fake and scam accounts. Problems such as catfishing scams that especially target middle-aged women (and some men) have made certain dating platforms somewhat notorious. Horror stories shared on shows like Dr Phil have made many come to see dating apps as a real problem in our society, rather than as a solution.
They can cheapen the dating experience
Some feel that finding someone on a dating app somewhat takes the magic out of dating. Earlier in this piece, we talked about how most people would probably prefer to have a genuinely romantic story to tell their kids rather than just “Mom and Dad met on Tinder.” Fun and romantic stories of how tales of true love begin rarely feature dating apps:
- I caught her eye across a crowded ballroom as the orchestra played “Swan Lake”…
- We both reached for the last apple, and as our hands touched, there was electricity…
- On arriving at work, I found a single red rose with a note attached to it that had his number…
It all sounds a lot better than “we both swiped right on Tinder one day and then boom!” Some might think of that as being a bit snobbish, but we think broadly speaking that it’s true.
Which Dating App Has the Highest Success Rate?
Ultimately, “success” on a dating app depends on a number of things, most importantly what it is that you’re looking for when downloading that app. Let’s start with those seeking long-term relationships and ultimately marriage, for which the most successful app is arguably eHarmony. It’s not only one of the oldest platforms out there, but easily the most successful with some 2 million couplings made since its initial launch all those years ago. Their app continues as an extension of their original marriage-focused philosophy, matching people through carefully designed questionnaires.
In the modern age, however, it’s hard to deny the success of apps like Tinder, either. Their data shows that they’ve made 60+ billion matches. Of course, that’s not all unique individuals, since that would be impossible in our world even with our record-breaking 8 billion population. Apps like Tinder in the heterosexual dating community, and Grindr in the LGBTQ+ dating community, however, have brought huge numbers of people together in a relatively safe, easy-going and highly accessible way.
As we said, however, it depends on what you’re looking for. Those who are more serious about relationships find success on Match and eHarmony. Those wanting more casual fun find success on Tinder and Grindr. Women who want more control in their online dating find success on Bumble. Many apps have different things to offer that help to ensure success for more people.
Is Real Life Better Than Dating Apps?
It’s safe to say that given the choice, most people would most likely opt for a real-life story of how they met someone, started dating, fell in love, got married and so on. The tale of “we matched Tinder” doesn’t quite have the same kind of romantic gravitas, at least not that many could detect. On the other hand, it’s perhaps unfair to think that nothing genuinely romantic or interesting could start from an online dating app.
Perhaps the main advantage with real life is that one gains more of a sense of achievement when things work out. Dating apps can make things a little too easy, even to the point where phrases such as “like shooting fish in a barrel” become quite appropriate.
So, is real life better than dating apps? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for, ultimately. Those who yearn for the satisfaction of a more traditional meeting and falling-in-love story won’t find dating apps appealing, but many others will of course. The sheer power of romantic connectivity that these apps put into people’s hands is nothing short of extraordinary, so apps will seemingly always have their worth for those that need it.