It’s been a rough year for online dating. Users are burned out for many reasons. There is a glut of dating app choices, an emphasis on looks and physicality for swipes, a hook-up mentality vs. relationship-seeking, a move toward splitting checks or just “hanging out,” too many dead-end conversations, and hundreds of first dates with no second dates in sight. Add phony profiles, cyber-stalking, perverts, breadcrumbers and ghosts to the mix and you have a recipe for dating disaster.
Over the past couple of years, the media have been lamenting the death of romance and relationships, and blaming Tinder (and its competitors) for the “hit it and quit it” instant gratification culture Millennials are perpetuating. According to a Today Show report, 80% of millennials have been “ghosted” while dating online, meaning someone ended communication abruptly without a simple goodbye or explanation! So much for finding the perfect match online!
Nancy Jo Sales’ 2015 article, “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse,’” in Vanity Fair was the shocker for sure but many of its insights and confessions continue to ring true with disillusioned, commitment fearful twenty-somethings. “Dating apps are the free-market economy come to sex. The innovation of Tinder was the swipe—the flick of a finger on a picture, no more elaborate profiles necessary and no more fear of rejection; users only know whether they’ve been approved, never when they’ve been discarded,” writes Sales.
With a similar slant, an article entitled “The Rise of Dating App Fatigue” in The Atlantic claims “now that the shine of novelty has worn off these apps, they aren’t fun or exciting anymore. They’ve become a normalized part of dating. There’s a sense that if you’re single, and you don’t want to be, you need to do something to change that.” In that same article, Moira Weigel, historian and author, notes that, while dating has always been difficult and in flux, there is something “new” going on. “Dating has always been work,” Weigel says. “But what’s ironic is that more of the work now is not actually around the interaction that you have with a person, it’s around the selection process, and the process of self-presentation. That does feel different than before.”
Who Uses These Apps and Why Aren’t They Working?
According to statisticbrain.com of the 54,350,000 single people in the U.S., over 49 million of them have tried online dating, most with mixed results. Of those online users, 52.4% are male and 47.6% female. Most statistics indicate that a woman’s “desirability” online peaks at 21, though at 26, women have more online pursuers than men. Conversely, by 48, men have twice as many online pursuers as women. So if self-presentation is the most important part, then just how are we doing with our online profiles anyway? The fact is, fake profiles abound and many are riddled with fallacies. Men lie most about their age, height, and income. Women fudge the facts most about weight, physical build, and age.
In the U.S. dating is big business with 6,747 companies employing 9,592 people. In 2017 revenue is expected to be over $3 billion in the U.S., with an annual growth rate of 5.3% from 2012 to 2017. But with all this business “success,” what’s happening to the users? Only 17% of marriages in the last year were couples that met on dating sites. The commitment figures aren’t much better with only 20% of current committed relationships beginning online.
With a constant stream of potential candidates to choose from at their fingertips, most mobile daters aren’t committed to investing the necessary time and effort to finding their perfect match. If one doesn’t work, then there are other easily accessible and eager partners just a swipe away. Many also show their indifference by being cheap in their matchmaking pursuits with only 1.6% of 18-26 year-olds paying for premium services on dating apps.
Michelle Jacoby of DC Matchmaking and Coaching, in a Washington Post article, believes users are experiencing “dating ADD,” a big trend in the past year. With the hoard of dating apps, the market is saturated and daters are overwhelmed. In effect, given the plethora of choices, users are less likely to make a decision or selection.
The Atlantic notes, ”if there’s a fundamental problem with dating apps … it is this: They facilitate our culture’s worst impulses for efficiency in the arena where we most need to resist those impulses. Research has shown that people who you aren’t necessarily attracted to at first sight, can become attractive to you over time, as you get to know them better. Evaluating someone’s fitness as a partner within the span of a single date — or a single swipe — eliminates this possibility.”
What About the Future?
With daters drowning in a sea of “choices” some extreme niche dating apps and sites, focusing on various subcultures and orientations, have gained momentum. In addition to targeting race, religion and gender, you can meet truckers, bearded men, pot lovers, cougars, gay daddies, inmates, farmers, and even people who hate the same things you do — all with a simple download. But with enthusiasm waning and satisfaction declining overall, is it time to rethink what are we looking for anyway? Is it lust, love, companionship, or strictly entertainment we want on our phones?
Afraid of returning to old-fashioned one-on-one dating? Then a little help from Artificial Intelligence and the wearable tech market might make swiping a thing of the past and ease you back into the game. Experts believe robots and artificial intelligence will become advantageous to dating app developers and users alike, enhancing users’ experiences in new ways. Several European companies are testing cool, new wearables that send an alert if someone is checking you out!
The technology of the future could take dating to a new level in measuring physical attraction and compatibility. In addition to the use of biosensors to transmit and monitor emotional interactions, there’s a more intuitive app coming that can sync with a smart watch and measure attraction to a prospective partner by spikes your in heart rate. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve!
All books are available at amazon.com. Click on title to learn more.
Labor of Love
by Moira Weigel
Online Dating: Finding Online Romance in 5 Simple and Easy Steps (Online Relationships, Profile, Dating Advice, Attraction) (Volume 1)
by Adam Kane
The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating
by Andy Stanley
Online Dating Statistics and Facts – datingsitesreviews.com
Online Dating Statistics – Statisticbrain.com
Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse – vanityfair.com
Tinder is so last year. In 2017, dating apps will get more selective – washingtonpost.com
Upcoming Trends in the Online Dating Industry – huffingtonpost.com
The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue – theatlantic.com
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