Online dating can be seen as a somewhat controversial topic. Questions come into play like, “is this person on here for the right reasons?” or “does this person really act/look like this in real life?”. Many see online dating as an opportunity to meet willing to date people, others see it as just a part of hookup culture. Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge are just a few of the most popular dating platforms that individuals find themselves on nowadays. Whether it’d be through me or my friends’ experiences, as a senior in college I have seen both the positives and negatives in online dating. With the help of a study done by Pew research and conducting my own interviews, I will break down and digest the ins and the outs of online dating so viewers can discover if it’s for them or not.
Although online dating has been prevalent over the years, COVID-19 played a huge role in upping its popularity. According to TexasMonthy, dating app revenue worldwide grew to $3.08 billion in 2020, up 22 percent from before the lockdown. This goes hand in hand with the growth of online dating due to lockdown boredom and is essential in the understanding of its rapid and recent popularity.
As seen in Pew Research’s study, roughly half of women think dating sites or apps are an unsafe way to meet people. Women often find themselves targeted in sexual harassment and abuse on these types of platforms. I interviewed my roommate and good friend Alexis Fuller (21) to get her insight on this topic. I provided her the shocking statistics conducted by Pew Research and she was anything but surprised. “In my own online dating experience, I’ve had multiple men interact with me in the most horrible and rude ways.” Fuller continues to elaborate on a specific time when she had matched with a man on Tinder. They engaged in small conversation, but after talking for a little while Fuller received an unwanted and inappropriate photo from this man. After hours of ignoring the graphic message, Fuller received hundreds of messages from the same man calling her foul names and threatening her life.
Sadly, Fuller is only one of the hundreds of thousands of women that experience this with online dating. According to an article by BBC, a 2018 Australian study of dating-platform messages revealed that the sexist abuse and harassment does disproportionately affect women, targeted by straight men. When it comes to rejection, some men would rather belittle a woman then just move on with their lives. When men get rejected in online dating, they are behind a screen. They gain this willingness to destroy a woman’s self confidence in order to feel better about themselves. Women face constant comparison and criticism on social media platforms everyday, and dating sites just seem to be another method to continue those tactics.
Although the online dating world can be scary, its successes are tremendous. I conducted a second interview with my cousin Kelli McCormick (26) who actually found her current and serious boyfriend on an online dating site. McCormick went on to tell me that it took a lot of trial and error to be successful in online dating. She chose online dating because of the comfortability that surrounds it. McCormick went on to explain how she is extremely introverted and had a hard time approaching a man in person. Due to her being behind a screen she felt she was able to say things and initiate conversation in ways that would usually be more out of her comfort zone. According to an article by Utah State, 20% of initial contact on online dating sites was initiated by women. Although the majority is still led by men, it’s essential to note the platform and opportunity for women to step out of their comfort zones.
In continuing my interview with McCormick, he stated “It all depends on your age and the site you use, people with different intentions find themselves on different platforms.” I was interested in this specific statement McCormick made and was able to find further research on it. According to a study done by Healthy Framework, In the 18-29 age bracket Tinder reigns the leader of the most popular dating site. There is a stigma that lingers around the idea of Tinder in that its use is for hookup culture, less serious relationships, and tends to be for younger daters. In comparison a site like Match.com that holds a higher mortality rate and tends to get more daters in their early to late 30s. In hindsight, depending on how serious of a relationship you want can often depend on what site you’re on.
In conclusion it is evident on why online dating is looked at as such a controversial subject. It is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and meet someone you thought you’d never get the chance to meet. However it is also important to stress on the importance of safety, because you never truly know who you could be talking to. I hope this post can help you determine whether online dating is for you.