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Online Dating is Broken.

Like most things on the internet, online dating had a promising vision: if the problem with in-person dating was that your options were more or less limited to the people you knew, then the internet could offer a way for us to meet people that we just would have never met any other way, and perhaps among them would be our soulmate. And like most things on the internet, it ended up so much worse than we could have imagined.


The big assumption here is that meeting online gives you a roughly equal chance of "clicking" as meeting in real life. Otherwise, you may meet way more people than you would have met in real life, but if the chances of hitting it off plummet, you may still have worse odds (and a lot more unpleasant unsuccessful interactions).





This seems to be more or less what's happening.

30% of adults have used a dating app (the numbers are still growing every year) but 42% of them say that their experience has been negative [1]. Anecdotally, people seem to think of online dating as 1) a fun game to play on your friend's phone or 2) a necessary evil, a sad fact of modern life. People do not walk around talking about how much fun they're having on dating apps.


That's because while the "game" of dating apps -- swiping -- has an initial appeal, it gets really old, really fast. No one likes being judged based on a photo, and then based on a few sentences. It feels superficial, because it is.


Getting a match is supposed to mean that you both found the other person attractive, but 35% of men admit to swiping right ..."generously", so that the double-opt-in mechanic swiping was created for works OK at best.


But the most stressful part is the messaging.

Once you're matched, even if it's because you both found the other person attractive, you've got nothing to go on. Making something out of nothing is really hard, as both theologians and physicists will tell you. That's why real life connections always start out in a context.


Even in the most stripped down scenario, at a bar, you will always remark on something -- "boy, these are weird coasters..." -- to start a conversation. In the void of the internet, there are no footholds to create a connection.


And yet, like all unfortunate fads, everyone has fallen in line with swiping.

Even long-standing dating institutions, famous for totally different things, have all become swiping apps. Maybe it's because The Match Group owns 24% of the market share, with more than 45 dating apps including Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyofFish, Meetic, Our Time and Hinge. Maybe it's because it seems like a fun gamified mechanic. Maybe it's because they want to have a cohesive brand under the other 45 brands. Maybe they really believe in it.


But swiping sucks.

I made a quick pros and cons list for you below:


Maybe it's time for something new?




[1] The Virtues and Downsides of Online Dating (2020) Pew Research Center.

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