Home Social gathering Online dating fatigue – why people are falling in love with a new generation of apps

Online dating fatigue – why people are falling in love with a new generation of apps

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soul mate by kellykeeton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Martin Graf

Lecturer in Relationship Psychology, University of South Wales

For the past two plus years, people hoping to meet their soul mate in person have struggled. Lockdowns and uncertainty about social gatherings have led many people to turn to dating apps.

People who feel like they’ve lost months or years of their love life may want to avoid the perils of dating apps — ghosting, dormant relationships, or simply wasting time chatting with the wrong people.

People are eager to meet in person, and the dating app menu is expanding to accommodate that. In addition to Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble, there are apps that aim to bring people together in person.

One of them is an increasingly popular app called Thursday. It’s only live once a week (Thursdays) and only gives users 24 hours to arrange a date.

This cuts down on expensive swiping and messaging throughout the week and possibly prevents people from using the app just for validation or amusement. Thursday also hosts in-person events where attendees can meet someone without slipping at all.

In person

There are a few reasons why in-person dating may be more appealing to some people than dating apps. The information we glean from online profiles doesn’t tell us much.

Meeting in person gives a much richer and more detailed impression of a date than meeting online, where all we see is a photo and, usually, a brief biography.

Additionally, 45% of current or previous users of dating apps or sites said the experience left them frustrated.

Online dating matches us with people we don’t know, making it easy for scammers to take advantage. Apart from that, users often present themselves in a false light, which leads to disappointment when daters meet face to face.

Although online dating seems to offer an abundance of choices, research suggests that we make poorer decisions online when it comes to dating choices.

We use simpler methods when choosing from a wide range of potential suitors than when choosing individually in person. This is often called the paradox of choice.

Are dating apps dead?

Dating apps have undoubtedly had a huge impact on the way couples meet. In the United States, online dating is the most popular way for couples to meet, and the number has increased in recent years.

Part of the appeal of the apps is their simplicity: you can create a profile and start meeting people in minutes. Despite this, using dating apps takes time and effort.

A large survey by dating app Badoo found that millennials spend an average of 90 minutes a day searching for a date, swiping, liking, matching and chatting.

Often messages from one party go unanswered from the other, and even if there is a response, the conversation may never lead to a face-to-face meeting. In 2016, data from Hinge revealed that only one in 500 swipes resulted in phone numbers being swapped.

This onerous process can lead to online dating fatigue for some. If we get no positive matches from our seemingly endless scan, or receive no response to our messages, our online dating efforts will eventually fail.

Photo by Solen Feyissa from Pixabay


Traditional dating apps are still incredibly popular, especially among young people. In 2021, Tinder was downloaded over 450 million times, with Gen Z accounting for 50% of app users.

Lendu’s research asked 3,852 millennials if they had ever met their Tinder matches.

The research found just 29% said ‘yes’ – far less than the 66% who said they had met for at least one date through more traditional dating sites such as Match or OKCupid.

But not everyone on Tinder hopes to find a date.

Research among Dutch Tinder users revealed that many use the app for validation (using matches simply as an assessment of one’s own level of attractiveness), or for the sake of receiving a match but without having the intention to pursue an appointment.

Because of this, dating apps can eventually lose users who pursue genuine relationships, particularly if they turn to face-to-face opportunities first instead.

But as long as they adapt to the changing demands of daters, apps are here to stay.

The conversationThis article originally appeared in The Conversation

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