Dating apps have undoubtedly revolutionised the way we find love. Finding, flirting and rejecting has never been easier, and swiping left and right has become second nature in how we meet and date people.
There’s an endless selection of dating apps, all catering to a specific need, all seamlessly infiltrated into our everyday lives. If you’re single, chances are you’re definitely on them, interested in them, or at the very least talking about them. In fact, a recent survey by Odyssey found that 83% of millennials spend up to two hours per week on their dating apps.
Giving you the option to “put yourself out there” without even leaving the comfort of your own home, the game-like aspect of swiping has made dating more fun and slightly less daunting. But while there's no denying apps have changed the dating game, with their new-found simplicity comes one common trope. The general consensus seems to be that while many women use dating apps to find a potential relationship, men just want a hook-up. But is this true or are we simply propagating harmful gender stereotypes?
“Men especially take pride in having a long list of matches,” says matchmaker and dating coach Siobhan Copland. “They tend to match with women they are drawn physically to, not taking into too much account about what is written on the profile.” On the other hand, she notes that women tend to take a more cautious approach, only matching with a guy they feel could be a prospective partner. As a result, several studies have shown that women tend to be pickier with their swipes but have a higher match rate, while men will generally swipe right on more people but are less likely to find matches.
“Women tend to get more messages than they send, and often the messages are from men they would not choose to engage with," continues Copland. Unless, that is, you’re on Bumble, an app that allows women to make the first move and therefore avoids those creepy, unsolicited opening lines from guys who swiped right just for the hell of it.
But of course men aren’t always alone in looking for no more than a good time. As dating coach Laurel House explains: “This is definitely not just a guy thing. Nor is it just an app thing. The truth is that there are both men and women just looking for casual sex on apps, online, and in the real world. Apps have simply made it easier to have access to many more people.”
Isabella, 24, who’s dated both men and women via dating apps, agrees that it’s not so much due to gender but the person. “Boys and girls sometimes use dating apps to hook up. I’ve had guys message me “Netflix and chill?” while others have been genuinely interested in knowing me as a person. The same goes for women. It really depends on the person’s intention rather than their gender.”
So perhaps it’s not so much down to the male/female question but finding someone with the same relationship aims as you. But while dating apps have made meeting a potential partner easier, they’ve also unintentionally made dating more disposable on both sides.
If you feel like you’ve got tons of matches but no dates, you're not alone: one third of people on online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites. More often than not, neither person follows through with an IRL date. Whether we really are that lazy or we’re just on the app for an ego boost, we’re all guilty of ghosting or benching at some point. A scourge of the modern age, Bumble is trying to tackle the issue with its 24-hour reply obligation function which means if you haven’t replied within the required time limit, you won’t be able to respond at all. What’s more, the app also offers a photo verification feature which is fighting catfishing and driving up real-life dates by providing the guarantee that the person in the photos is the one you’re actually talking to.
In turn, this helps to remedy another dating app snag: namely, that most people are guilty of not making enough of an effort. “With what seemingly appears as a plethora of choices of singles to meet out there, people tend to have less patience,” says Copland. “They lack attention in getting to know someone, and they are quick to rule someone out, with the view they can get a better option.”
Instead, she suggests taking a more focused approach if we really are serious about meeting the right person, something that apps like Bumble are making easier. But the most important key to successful online dating, the experts agree, is staying true to our feelings and being honest about our intentions. As House concludes: “If you start casually, you are setting the tone for the relationship. So take control of the app, and therefore take control of the outcome and your love life!”