As Valentine’s Day approaches, the dating services like Match.com and eHarmony are flooding the airwaves with their pairing prowess, with 30, 40, 50 and older-somethings gushy over their new mates and how grand life is as a two-fer (after all those years looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, not to mention all those scary dates).
Digital dating apps, led by Tinder, have broken the mold. No more thousands of questions about the authentic you, no more having to scribe ideal dates of long walks at sunset along the beach, vacations in Turks and Caicos, quiet evenings listening to Michael Buble (not really, well, maybe for some), or other fantasies that will never happen or if they do, they’re in a Hallmark card or Sandals vacation ad. Now Tinder and other apps lets users scan photos and short profiles of potential dates or mates, and with the swipe a finger a interested party can make a connection. You can chat or pass after the pop-up on your smartphone screen. What could be easier?
Another app, Hinge, looks at your Facebook posts for “friends of friends,” the strongest of personal network ties and the most likely to have similar tastes. Other dating apps slice and dice the demographic so that the one percent see only other selected one-percenters (God forbid a Gladwynite would get matched with someone from Bridesburg!). Just kidding, I love Bridesburg. I used to work there.
Smartphone dating apps must work. In two years, Tinder has more than a billion swipes a day and 12 million matches, particularly skewed toward 18-25 year olds. Hey, who has the time?
Why is this happening?
The most commonly offered reason is efficiency. It’s quick, it’s casual, and no need to create a persona or social profile. All that’s required is a Facebook account and you can use Tinder. That’s because Tinder uses your Facebook photos, and then you add search parameters, like distance from you, a bio if you want one, age, and gender, and you’re good to go, er, swipe. A little pop-up says you’ve got a hit and you can send a message or “keep playing.” You have to like each other to get or send a message, though.
The upside? Lots of dates and less work getting them. And the more dates you have, arguably, the better chance you have of finding someone you like.
For more on online dating apps, see Molly Wood’s article in the NY Times: