I open the app in the wee hours of the morning, unable to fall asleep. I am immediately greeted by a man in his twenties in light denim and a camo hat, holding a large fish. Two miles away. A swipe left and a girl with warm brown eyes, wavy hair and… a boyfriend hanging around her shoulders. Ugh, swipe left. Swipe after swipe, everyone from familiar faces in bars to colleagues to close friends, everyone is looking for everything from a quick connection to true love.
The popularity of dating apps has skyrocketed in recent years, with the mother of all dating apps, Tinder, launched in 2012. The app, as of last year, has around 50 million users, according to TechCrunch. . Apps like Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Grindr, and Her offer a wide landscape for people to find people, some catering to specific groups, like LGBTQ people, or apps like Farmers Only or Christian Mingle.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, nearly one in five young people aged 18 to 24 used dating apps. This shift in how young adults find love, or at least dating, has changed the dating game forever.
For some, dating apps have ended in real relationships. Malaika Kigen, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, used her old Tinder account to find her boyfriend of seven months, Nick. She downloaded both Bumble and Tinder in an effort to find someone to hang out with.
“We talked for two weeks — about everything,” she said. “We decided to go to B-Bops; it was a new place for us. We were both very shy, but I ended up talking all the time because that’s what I do. My friends came with, not with us, but they came to sit near us to make sure that I wasn’t going to be kidnapped, or murdered, or something like that. We ended up sitting there for four hours talking.
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Kigen and Nick started dating a month after the original date. She said the dating app has some advantages when it comes to social interaction.
“It might be easier to do online dating, because you don’t have to go out of your way to talk to someone and just say, ‘Hey,'” Kigen said. “Suing people in person is a little scarier. [Tinder] eases the playing field. It may be easier to get to know the person in person, however.
At the other end of the relationship spectrum, some people use dating apps only in casual settings, not to find serious relationships. UI junior Robby uses apps such as Tinder and Bumble occasionally.
“Tinder is for meeting new people with the idea whether it’s for romantic or sexual involvement.is lying. I don’t think I’ll use them for anything else,” he said. “I take Bumble more seriously – the girl has to respond, so if they took the time to respond to me, I’ll take it more seriously.”
Robby said that whenever he has downtime on a daily basis, he would open Tinder to see if he had any matches and to search for new potential matches.
“It’s good because you don’t really have that in-person anxiety that you feel,” he said. “You’re so lost at this point that the moment has passed. Because it’s over text, it’s easier to say what you want to say. I’m not very actively trying to tune into Tinder, but if I get the chance, I’ll jump on it.
A 2017 article in the Sociology Review titled “Liquid Love” argued that the design of Tinder is meant to take the stress out of dating and make it a type of game that doesn’t require a lot of time or investment.
“People [hook up], and it’s all good for them,” Kigen said. “What sucks is like being a ghost, when the person talks to you and stops. It mess with people’s self-esteem sometimes. Like, ‘What’s wrong with me, where are they gone?’ You showed interest, and so did they, and then they left, and you question yourself.
Karla Miller, a trauma therapist at the Iowa City Counseling Center and former director of the rape victim advocacy program, said while dating apps can help people find relationships that work, there can also be having a lot of issues with them when it comes to communicating the level of relationship the two individuals want to have.
“When you have someone who doesn’t have that goal [of a relationship], someone who just kind of jumps up, you can have a lot of shifts, a lot of hurt, a lot of disappointment,” she said. “People feel like they’ll never find anyone, or, ‘Someone doesn’t find me attractive enough, because why doesn’t someone date me more than a few times?’ ”
Miller pointed out that communicating relationship goals is important for users to avoid hurting each other, but that there can be broad communication issues on apps and online.
“You lose 85-95% of communication, which is non-verbal,” she said. “I think people think talking is the main form of communication, but it’s not, it’s the non-verbal stuff we do. When you can’t see that, you miss that’ is- what were they joking, were they crazy, what were they doing?’ and things like that.”
Additionally, at the onset of sexual relations, Miller said, there are two types of sexual relations, those simply initiated out of interest that remain primarily physical, and those in which individuals will have sex in order to create an intimate bond with another person. . This is where a lot of misunderstandings can take place.
“You have to talk about that stuff, likes and dislikes, and not just about sex,” she said. “If you have a question, ask it. “Are you interested or not? I think what stops people is the fear of rejection, of people saying no. But you want to know up front that you don’t want to not ask that question just because you don’t want to hear no.
Despite miscommunication, Miller said, part of the appeal of dating apps is the endorphin rush users can get.
“The start of a new relationship can be exciting, and all the chemicals that make you feel good are released. It can be very appealing and, for some people, very addictive,” she said. “But it can also go too far. If your happiness depends on how long it takes that person to answer you, that can be a problem. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, why didn’t they answer, that ‘does that mean?’ It could just mean that they are busy.
UI rookie Maya Penning said validation of getting new matches is a driving factor for using dating apps.
“[Dating apps] are super superficial now,” she said. “Like Tinder, I don’t think it should be under ‘dating apps’, I think it should be under ‘gaming apps’. It’s not even a dating app anymore. People just swiping and swiping; it’s for the satisfaction of getting matches and knowing you’re a valid person. You don’t message anyone; there’s no conversation.
Many dating apps work by allowing users to continuously browse profiles, swiping left for those that don’t interest you and right for those that interest you. These profiles may contain a lot of information about the user, but may only be a selection of photos.
“A lot of times I blindly swipe right-right-right, and I don’t even look at them. I just want to see if they’ll match up with me,” Penning said. “I was sliding really fast. There was this nice guy, he looked attractive, and so we matched. He was like, ‘Damn, you’re plump. You must have mixed blood in you. I was like, ‘Please don’t say that. You’re cute, but you’re not worth it. I knew people were racist, but I didn’t think they were so blatantly racist. I ended up not matching it, and I stopped doing swipe-sprees.
Penning said she would never have spoken to him if they had met organically.
UI sophomore Brandon Mainock, who has used Bumble, Tinder and OkCupid, said that while initial matches are based on physical attraction, there can be serious issues with that.
“I feel like that’s not honest. You can always use Photoshop, you can always manipulate photos to get your best angles every time,” he said. psyche. I see Tinder as a depressant for people. They see themselves as not good enough, they shrink. It’s a societal construct that I don’t think should exist. People don’t need to know they’re bad. It’s really hurting people’s pride.
Mainock said that due to the configuration of the system, people’s personalities can be overlooked and more emphasis is placed on physical appearance.
“It was, I think, my third dating match, and she was heavier than described and a bit shorter,” he said. “I didn’t really have a problem with that. I’m a very open minded person, I’m not going to sit down and judge someone on their physical appearance. But when physical appearance is presented as something different, physical appearance is meant to be sold as something else, that’s more of an ethical issue for me.
While some apps have verification systems to make sure users are the people in the photos they post, apps like Tinder don’t have it in place. While on the lighter side of things it can lead to parody narratives for fictional or historical characters, on the other end of the spectrum there can be consequences.
Miller advised users to exercise caution with apps because on those apps people can be who they say they are, making catfishing a risk.
“It’s a playground for predators. It is,” she said. “Someone who takes advantage of people or someone who has interpersonal problems can be out there doing whatever they want. As long as you can have a dating service that cares about safety first… that’s pretty important.
Miller advises users to notice any red flags that arise and investigate anything that is wrong. She also said that while dating apps are here to stay, they are not a replacement for in-person relationship building.
“It’s important to realize that this is not a substitute for face-to-face personal relationships based on trust, authenticity and compatibility,” she said. “It’s nice to meet people that way, and if that’s all you want to do, that’s cool, that’s fine. But I don’t think it replaces face-to-face. We’d really do well if people learned how to start a relationship, how to tell whether someone is trustworthy or not.