When it launched in 2012 Tinder was hailed by singles as a chance to finally meet new people, and reviled by the conservative as simply being a casual sex app. Now a few years later it can be revealed that, while there are clearly exceptions the truth is it’s neither because Tinder doesn’t work.
In the world of Tinder, Bumble and similar apps the problem with being single is no longer the inability to meet people with whom you are mutually attracted, but rather creating a spark with those people.
A study from researchers at Queen Mary University of London, Sapienza University of Rome, and the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group looked at just why people that were clearly matching with one another online were not finding these matches converting into relationships in the real world and what they found is that most likes simply aren’t backed up by enough excitement to do anything about.
Different uses for Tinder
Firstly what they found, to almost no one’s surprise, is that men are much more likely to swipe right than woman, something like 300% more likely, but also that when they got a match men were much less likely to start a conversation.
Only 7 per cent of men who matched with the researchers’ fake profile sent a message, compared to 21 per cent of women who matched with one.
What the study concluded is that women who swipe right generally intend to meet up, while men are simply doing it in the hope of matching with anyone.
They cautioned that sadly this behaviour difference leads to a downward spiral of behaviours in which men swiping right on everyone can lead to women getting overwhelmed with attention, which then makes them even choosier. This, in turn, makes men more desperate, and even less discerning about who they like. It’s no wonder then, in all this confusion, that no one is actually speaking online.
No one is speaking
A further study by Jennie Zhang and Taha Yasseri of Oxford University in the UK found that roughly 50% of all conversations on dating apps were entirely one-sided. And that when there was a mutual conversation only 19% resulted in an exchange of numbers.
These studies were all backed up by a recent one at the Norwegian University of Science, which found that men were generally using the app to meet people for short term encounters, but women were either looking for relationships or simply to boost their self-esteem.
This latter use by women is ironic given a study published in July in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, which found that compulsive use of dating apps made swipers feel lonelier than they did in the first place. This was particularly true of those with low self-esteem who became trapped in a vicious cycle of swiping, feeling lonely, and then swiping more.
And to make things worse new preliminary studies are finding the gamification of Tinder-style apps in which endless profiles are stacked into “yes” and “no” piles, with occasional rewards from matches, may rather be triggering the same parts of our brain as gambling, and other addictive activities, and not our those related to love at all.
Even meeting up is no guarantee
In the rare instances where internet strangers do actually succeed in meeting up they have two final hurdles to jump. The first is the fact that digital eligibility exceeds physical eligibility. That is to say, people are generally better looking, wittier and smarter online than they are face-to-face. Online personas can be carefully crafted, only the best photos are taken and typed responses can be carefully thought through, while in the harsh light of day, with less time to think, things may not always appear as they seemed online.
Additionally, evolutionary biologists have shown that the greater the time spent with someone the more likely one is to become attracted to them. A Tinder date essentially then allows you to meet someone you thought was a nine out of ten, find out they are a seven out of ten, and then never meet up with them again, dooming any kind of relationship.
And worse news is to come. Research from Michigan State University suggests that even if couples meet up, like each other and then decide to date, they are still a staggering 28 percent more likely to split up within one year. Study author Aditi Paul explained this phenomenon when he told Huffington Post, that when you meet up with people this way you are also aware that there are many other potential relationships out there at any given time and are more likely to quit at the first sign of trouble. “You also don’t share a social network,” he says explaining that there is less social pressure for you to make it work.