The Five Years That Changed Dating by A. Fetters
(Link): The Five Years That Changed Dating by A. Fetters
When Tinder became available to all smartphone users in 2013, it ushered in a new era in the history of romance.
….But in 2018, seven of the 53 couples profiled in the Vows column met on dating apps.
And in the Times’ more populous Wedding Announcements section, 93 out of some 1,000 couples profiled this year met on dating apps—Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happn, and other specialized dating apps designed for smaller communities, like JSwipe for Jewish singles and MuzMatch for Muslims.
The year before, 71 couples whose weddings were announced by the Times met on dating apps.
Matt Lundquist, a couples therapist based in Manhattan, says he’s started taking on a less excited or expectant tone when he asks young couples and recently formed couples how they met. “Because a few of them will say to me, ‘Uhhh, we met on Tinder’—like, ‘Where else do you think we would have met?’” Plus, he adds, it’s never a good start to therapy when a patient thinks the therapist is behind the times or uncool.
…But the gigantic shift in dating culture really started to take hold the following year , when Tinder expanded to Android phones, then to more than 70 percent of smartphones worldwide. Shortly thereafter, many more dating apps came online.
…Meanwhile, the underlying challenges—the loneliness, the boredom, the roller coaster of hope and disappointment—of being “single and looking,” or single and looking for something, haven’t gone away. They’ve simply changed shape.
…Meanwhile, the underlying challenges—the loneliness, the boredom, the roller coaster of hope and disappointment—of being “single and looking,” or single and looking for something, haven’t gone away. They’ve simply changed shape…
….Some also believe that the relative anonymity of dating apps—that is, the social disconnect between most people who match on them—has also made the dating landscape a ruder, flakier, crueler place.
For example, says Lundquist, the couples therapist, if you go on a date with your cousin’s roommate, the roommate has some incentive to not be a jerk to you.
But with apps, “You’re meeting somebody you probably don’t know and probably don’t have any connections with at a bar on 39th Street. That’s kind of weird, and there’s a greater opportunity for people to be ridiculous, to be not nice.”
…But other users complain of rudeness even in early text interactions on the app. Some of that nastiness could be chalked up to dating apps’ dependence on remote, digital communication; the classic “unsolicited dick pic sent to an unsuspecting match” scenario, for example….
…Holly Wood, who wrote her Harvard sociology dissertation last year on singles’ behaviors on dating sites and dating apps, heard a lot of these ugly stories too.
And after speaking to more than 100 straight-identifying, college-educated men and women in San Francisco about their experiences on dating apps, she firmly believes that if dating apps didn’t exist, these casual acts of unkindness in dating would be far less common.
But Wood’s theory is that people are meaner because they feel like they’re interacting with a stranger, and she partly blames the short and sweet bios encouraged on the apps.
…Eli Finkel, however, a professor of psychology at Northwestern and the author ofThe All-or-Nothing Marriage, rejects that notion. “Very smart people have expressed concern that having such easy access makes us commitment-phobic,” he says, “but I’m not actually that worried about it.”
Research has shown that people who find a partner they’re really into quickly become less interested in alternatives, and Finkel is fond of a sentiment expressed in a 1997 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology paper on the subject: “Even if the grass is greener elsewhere, happy gardeners may not notice.”
…But perhaps the most consequential change to dating has been in where and how dates get initiated—and where and how they don’t.
When Ingram Hodges, a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, goes to a party, he goes there expecting only to hang out with friends. It’d be a pleasant surprise, he says, if he happened to talk to a cute girl there and ask her to hang out. “It wouldn’t be an abnormal thing to do,” he says, “but it’s just not as common. When it does happen, people are surprised, taken aback.”
…There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg effect when it comes to Tinder and the disentanglement of dating from the rest of social life. It’s possible, certainly, that dating apps have erected walls between the search for potential partners and the normal routines of work and community.
But it’s also possible that dating apps thrive in this particular moment in history because people have stopped looking for potential partners while they go about their work and community routines.
…But, naturally, with the compartmentalization of dating comes the notion that if you want to be dating, you have to be active on the apps. And that can make the whole process of finding a partner, which essentially boils down to semi-blind date after semi-blind date, feel like a chore or a dystopian game show.
…Hailey has heard her friends complain that dating now feels like a second, after-hours job; Twitter is rife with sentiments similar in tone. It’s not uncommon nowadays to hear singles say wistfully that they’d just like to meet someone in real life.
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