Understanding the Complicated Social Aspects of Online Dating

As time goes on, there appears to be more and more technology emerging in an attempt to make our lives a little bit easier. One form of this technology, dating apps, has gained a lot of attention as it relates to effectiveness. The idea that someone can find their soulmate over the phone was once considered taboo. Today, as seen in the study conducted by Pew Research Center, thirty percent of Americans have admitted to using an online dating service. However, the effects of online dating raise many questions regarding efficiency. 

In an article published on March 11, 2019, to BBC Future, there is a mention of how photo-based activities created problems when it came to negative thoughts on body image. Posting photos of oneself to any sort of social media is subject to criticism from all. That is particularly the problem when it comes to dating apps. Most dating apps require photos of the user which are viewable to others on the app. The photos chosen by the user are likely done so to come off as appealing to others. Seventy-one percent of online dating users say they were active on the service to find someone they consider physically attractive. This percentage only decreased as it related to shared interests, physically meeting, and relational goals. This data places an emphasis on why these issues regarding body image come to fruition for so many individuals. The underlying pressure to appear physically attractive to complete strangers places a restriction on the shared ethics, morals, and values that propel healthy relationships. 

In a study published on June 7, 2021, to YouGovAmerica, forty-seven percent of women who have experience with dating apps say they would prefer to meet potential partners another way. This is more than the men for which thirty-five percent share the same opinion. To further understand the reasoning behind this, a phone interview was conducted with ADP sales associate Jackie Bean (24). Jackie has been in a relationship with her boyfriend for over four years and they currently live together in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since the couple met through mutual friends, they have never interacted via dating apps. Prior to this relationship, Jackie had an account for the popular dating app, Tinder. When asked the question “what was it about dating apps that never seemed to work for you?”, Jackie stated that “every guy on those kinds of apps is likely on it for instant gratification in that exact moment.” She went on to state that “I deleted Tinder specifically because of the number of shallow messages I’d receive.” 

Jackie’s remarks align with the thirty percent of women from the Pew Research study that have received too many messages from a dating service. Like Jackie, too many messages with a shallow context may have contributed to the renouncement of dating apps all together. This may also offer further explanation as to why only twelve percent of Americans have been in a committed relationship or marriage from a dating app. However, that twelve percent is statistically proven to have a higher chance at remaining together. In a study posted on June 3, 2013, led by the University of Chicago, it states that “marriage breakups were reported in about 6 percent of the people who met online, compared with 7.6 percent of the people who met offline.” This is because their goals are discussed earlier on in the relationship which allows for more time to expand upon growing as a couple. The earlier the couple can work toward their relational goals, the more successful they will be. 

Another interview was conducted in an order to gain a male’s perspective on online dating. A phone interview with kitchen manager, Owen Burke (21), posed the question “How often do you find yourself using dating apps?” Burke responded, “I really only go on them from time to time because it always seems to be the same people popping up over and over again.” He also went on to state that “the pictures never change, and the bios are usually just asking for followers or money.” Burke was formerly in a relationship that emerged from the dating app Tinder but ended the relationship after two years. He had nothing but good things to say about the relationship, so it can be deduced that his experience with online dating apps was once positive. Now, he views the apps as toxic and has encountered several negative takeaways. 

Online dating emphasizes that love, the one thing all humans crave, can be found at the push of a button. However, the main takeaway is that not everyone will share the same online dating experience. These experiences vary depending upon gender, location, and sexual orientation. The statistics put forward by the research around dating apps highlight these differences and the overall user experience. 

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