Dating apps are great for dating but not that great for relationships. There is no shortage of debate when it comes to the value that dating apps add to our lives. Are they good, bad, harmful, harmless, just for fun, or critical tools to finding love? Whether you are a fan of apps or not, one thing is clear, they have changed how we date.
When Match.com first launched in the late nineties it wasn’t designed to foster relationships. It was a new service to meet a romantic interest. The purpose wasn’t to launch marriages, like Eharmony advertised. It was source of profiles that had moved from the online personals to software.
Something interesting was happening at the time that made the climate prime for a service like Match. A phenomenon that many people ignore. At the time of launch the divorce rate was climbing, and there was an unprecedented number of single adults in their mid-forties, or later, living lonely in the suburbs.
The idea of a single man or woman north of forty trolling bars for dates wasn’t embraced but something interesting was; computers. Most adults facing divorce after their children had left for college had access to a home PC. Something that hadn’t been the case a few years prior.
The opportunity to chat in the privacy of your own home mirrored the same activity of going to the bar, and moved it to the living room of the modern suburbs. At that time in technology a lot of design was simply taking a behavior that happened in the real world, and moving it to the digital world. This is not the case for dating apps.
With the introduction of smart phones, dating apps brought attention as a commodity right to the palm of our hands. It’s that unlimited access to attention that makes the case for dating apps being more harmful than useful. What most people fail to conceptually embrace is that dating apps weren’t designed to help you find love.
Dating Apps Do Their Job
How often do you hear people say, “Dating apps don’t work.” This is lie.
Dating apps work, and they work almost too well. Dating apps were designed to expose adults to new people that they had never met, or possibly didn’t know. Dating apps, in the professional love industry, have long been referred to as introduction apps.
They are tools to meet people, and that is exactly what they do. They introduce you to options whether you meet them in real life or not. Not only do dating apps work, they have actually made more people better at dating by making it easier to find people to date. They facilitate conversations despite how well users take actions.
Dating Apps Are Centered Around Attention
Like any good mobile app, dating apps thrive on attention. The more time you spend in the app the better it is for their KPIs. Not only is the user getting a reliable drip of dopamine, the app itself is getting more data about that user’s behavior. That is exactly how dating apps were designed to work.
They rely on the reward loop to keep singles interested long after they’ve matched with more candidates. More people than they could possibly get to know. The question you have to ask yourself is: Why do you keep swiping?
The one thing dating apps haven’t done is made us insatiable. We’ve been obsessed with large quantities since the invention of the Big Gulp. There is never enough. We always want more, more and more. Whether it comes in the form of binge watching, or Amazon, we love the idea of unlimited options, until we need to make a critical decision.
Is online dating the culprit for a culture of non-committal?
Marriage is declining, fewer people are coupled, and more than ever millennials are reporting having less sex than prior generations. We are a very connected society that is completely disconnected with it comes to intimate relationships. For the first time in a decade dating doesn’t suck. For the first time more single adults are great at dating.
We date well but we don’t date exclusively. Dating apps have changed both the way we date and the way that we couple. Statistically speaking the average adult goes on more dates a month than adults reported having had in a year, just six years prior.
We are entering into an era that is unprecedented for lack of partnership and online dating is a major contributing factor to why. Dating apps exploit our desire for choice but our inability to choose. The more options we have the worse we feel with our final decision, a concept shared by Barry Schwartz in The Paradox of Choice.
Dating apps as designed work as a tool to introduce users to possible romantic matches.
If you find it easier to know who you want to meet by first browsing an app then it’s a great source of options, and at times entertainment. If you’re looking for love by using an app, you have to be open to using the right app for your search. All apps are not equal so before you determine that dating apps don’t work, you must first be clear on the job you’re hiring the app to do.