How dating apps have changed our relationships

You’re not bumping into love – you’re searching for it.

How dating apps have changed our relationships
Grindr app is seen on a mobile phone in this photo illustration taken in Shanghai, China March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/Illustration

Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Grindr … these are some of the most popular dating (or hookup) apps currently being used. Chances are, you may have one (or all) of them on your phone right now. And they’re changing how we experience dating, relationships and love itself.

According to sociologist Dr. Marie Bragstorm, “One idea that has been really strong in the past – certainly in Hollywood movies – is that love is something you can bump into, unexpectedly, during a random encounter.” We no longer live in a world where we think “love is blind, that a princess can fall in love with a peasant and love can cross social boundaries. But that is seriously challenged when you’re online dating, because it’s so obvious to everyone that you have search criteria. You’re not bumping into love – you’re searching for it.”

Tinder, which was one of the first dating apps to rise in popularity, launched back in 2012. On this app, the main action users are doing is simply swiping left or right based on (let’s be real) mainly looks but also a few biographical details. It’s like a game. In fact, ​​this action releases dopamine, giving users a sense of pleasure, which keeps people on the platform for long stretches of time.

Dinesh Moorjani, who co-founded Tinder, says, “We had some users that were using the app north of 30 to 40 times a day.”

And, while internet dating used to be seen as kind of … pathetic, it’s now become just another part of the norm. Before dating apps were popularized, it was often seen as a bit geeky to be talking to someone online, especially in the 90s and early 2000s when it was way harder to figure out if you were being catfished. Now, online dating is actually not a bad way to find the right “match.”

“Research has shown that we are able to build relationships with each other based on online interactions only,” says Elizabeth Timmermans, a Belgium-based researcher and an author of “Love in the Age of Tinder.”

“In fact, online, people have a tendency to share more intimate details than IRL,” she points out.