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The 2000s have seen a substantial increase in the number of people that use online dating. In 2012, Tinder changed the dating game further by making online dating as easy as a simple swipe. The concept was simple: users could swipe right on a profile picture that they were interested in, and swipe left on a profile picture that they were not interested in. In the wake of tinder, many similar apps emerged such as Bumble and Hinge. The unique feature of Bumble is that after matching, women must message the man first to start a conversation. The unique feature of Hinge is that users only match with each other if they interact with something on their profile such as responding to a picture they have or responding to something written on their profile. Today, Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge are known as “the big three” of dating apps.

Although the usage of dating apps has been increasing gradually each year, the pandemic has further increased their usage. People who locked down experiencing loneliness naturally gravitated towards dating apps. The apps proposed a solution to that loneliness while being easily accessible from the comfort of their own locked down homes. In March of 2020 when the pandemic began, Tinder recorded the most swipes on their app in one single day: 3 billion. Since that day, tinder has broken that record over 100 times. Although people have become increasingly interested in getting on dating apps, the willingness to actually go outside and meet a person has gone down significantly. This is partly due to the nature of the pandemic lock downs but also because the apps themselves have actively steered their users to spend more time on the apps. For instance, Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge now allow people to put videos on their profiles and allow people to video chat with each other. This encourages users more options to “screen” their matches before actually going out on a date. Even after lockdowns waned as curfews were lifted and vaccines rolled out, people are still going on more “virtual dates” through the app before meeting them in person. All of this has led to overall more time spent on the apps.

In 2015, Tinder started to monetize its usage by giving users the option to enjoy premium features. One of these features is for users to be able to have their profile come up more prominently with potential matches so that they are more likely to match. Many other apps have followed suit. Therefore, the amount of people with paid subscriptions has increased drastically. From 2019 to 2020, Hinge nearly tripled its revenue in response to the pandemic while Tinder saw a 15% revenue growth around that period. The demand for love is high and the apps have been taking full advantage of that fact. When Tinder started its paid features back in 2015, it was just a dollar per month. Today a tinder gold membership costs $30 for a month while a platinum membership costs $40 for a month.

Many men report having very few matches without a paid membership to a dating app. Why men? The reason is that men and women practically live in different dimensions on dating apps. This is due to the following factors. Firstly, in the United States, around 75% of people who use dating apps are men while 25% are women. Further, data has found that women tend to swipe right on 4% of men while men tend to swipe right on 60% of women. This leads to tough battles that both men and women must fight to navigate through these apps to find a relationship. Men have almost impossible competition just to get a match and even when they do, it is very difficult to even retain a conversation given that the woman is usually talking to many different men at the same time. Women on dating apps are regularly flooded with messages in their inbox from men that they match with, making it difficult for them to decide which one to invest their time in. In the end, women have an overwhelming number of messages that they are trying to sift through while men tend to have almost no messages. It is easy for women to become checked out of dating men given the overwhelming number of messages that they receive while it is easy for men to become desperate given how hard it is to get attention from women on dating apps.

For these reasons, many men and women report negative experiences on dating apps. The fact that apps are intentionally trying to get people to spend more time using the apps in order to rack up profit does not help the situation. The difficult positions of both men and women on dating apps add a further layer of frustration. Although the dating game today is much different than it was 20 years ago (and arguably worse) we don’t necessarily want the takeaway message here to be to delete the apps. Instead, we offer some quick advice for people who use dating apps. For men, we advise not losing heart. It’s easy to feel lonely and worthless when making a lot of effort on dating apps and getting very little response in return. Know that it is a numbers game and that many other men are going through the same frustration due to the nature of the game. For women, we advise not to drag things out on the app for too long because there’s only so much you can do to get to know somebody online. When choosing a place to meet up, just a low-key coffee date in the morning is a great way to get to know the person before getting serious. The online world of dating is strange, different, and often frustrating but there is still that possibility of finding a real human connection on it that can ultimately lead to a lasting healthy relationship.