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Lisa Wade suspects that graduates of high-school or college hookup culture may welcome the fact that online dating takes some of the ambiguity out of pairing up (We’ve each opted in; I’m at least a little bit interested in you).
The first time my husband and I met up outside work, neither of us was sure whether it was a date.
Another woman wrote that she was “too lazy” to meet people, adding: “I usually download dating apps on a Tuesday when I’m bored, watching TV …
I don’t try very hard.” Yet another woman said that she used an app, but only “after two glasses of white wine—then I promptly delete it after two hours of fruitless swiping.”Many critiques of online dating, including a 2013 article by Dan Slater in The Atlantic, adapted from his book A Million First Dates, have focused on the idea that too many options can lead to “choice overload,” which in turn leads to dissatisfaction.
Few of their messages are returned, and even fewer lead to in-person contact. Nevertheless, men persist in swiping right on her profile only to taunt her—when I spoke with her, one guy had recently ended a text exchange by sending her a of an overweight woman on a treadmill.
At best, the experience is apt to be bewildering (Why are all these people swiping right on me, then failing to follow through? An even bigger problem may be the extent to which romantic pursuit is now being cordoned off into a predictable, prearranged online venue, the very existence of which makes it harder for anyone, even those not using the apps, to extend an overture in person without seeming inappropriate. One especially springlike morning in May, as Debby Herbenick and I walked her baby through a park in Bloomington, Indiana, she shared a bit of advice she sometimes offers students at Indiana University, where she is a leading sex researcher.
Maybe the problem is not the people who date and date some more—they might even get married, if Rosenfeld is right—but those who are so daunted that they don’t make it off the couch.Then she remembered that she’d seen his profile on Tinder.“Maybe next time I sign in,” she said, musing aloud, “I’ll just swipe right so I don’t have to do this awkward thing and get rejected.”Apart from helping people avoid the potential embarrassments (if also, maybe, the exhilaration) of old-fashioned flirting, apps are quite useful to those who are in what economists call “thin markets”—markets with a relatively low number of participants.The majority of men on Tinder just swipe right on everybody.They say yes, yes, yes to every woman.”Stories from other app users bear out the idea of apps as diversions rather than matchmakers.