Technology has been helping people start relationships since, well, forever. [Well, of all the nerve!] But with the massive increase in digital dating platforms, sometimes it gets a little much. An ever-growing list of apps like, Tinder, Grinder, and Hinge serve up an unending number of potential partners to evaluate. Headlines are calling it the dating apocalypse. But is the constant swiping really such a bad thing? The evidence out there is mixed.
On the one hand, there’s the concept of choice overload the idea that too many options might make it harder to choose, and to be happy with the result. Experts point to a study done in a grocery store where shoppers were much more likely to stop and try the sample sat a table crammed with options but they actually bought the items more often when there were fewer to choose from. It’s like when you fall asleep watching countless trailers on Netflix before you manage to decide on a movie.
Of course, shopping for jam or picking movies a little different than looking for a life partner where the stakes are a lot higher. And whether choice overload exists, and applies to online dating, is actually kind of controversial. In one small study of a group of undergraduate students who were mostly white, and mostly female so, not really representative of the general population the students were less satisfied when they picked a date from 24 options than when they picked from six. But that’s an artificial situation. And when you look at actual couples, having more choices might work out just fine in the long run. Various studies show that couples who met online stayed together about as often as or slightly more often than couples who met in person. And actually, digital matches ended up getting married faster. More importantly, online dating and dating apps have actually been pretty helpful in the LGBTQ community.
As the internet gained traction in the 1990s, the percentage of gay and lesbian couples who met their soul mates on the internet spiked, and continued to rise. So looking at the data, it kind of seems like even if we feel overwhelmed at dating options, it isn’t preventing us from making decisions we wind up being happy with – just the opposite. Still, mainstream dating platforms have a long way to go before they’re inclusive of everyone. That’s why new apps like Thrust, a dating app for queer people of all genders, have popped onto the scene. Regardless of how sophisticated dating platforms get, they’re still just tools so they don’t magically take the effort out of relationships. So if you’re single and feeling overwhelmed, keep swiping and hope for the best.
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