The Problem with Popular Dating Apps

I went on a Tinder date while traveling and had two three-month relationships by way of Bumble, but I still think dating apps have a major shortcoming for people looking for long-lasting, serious relationships. 

For a one-time date or for a short, casual relationship, I think these apps work great. Without them, I would have never had the experience of having a boyfriend or even going on a real date. But neither of those fun, although ephemeral, experiences were what I was looking for. I wanted a long-term relationship with someone I could really trust.

When my second Bumble boyfriend broke up with me, it dawned on me: true, long-lasting relationships are rooted in friendship, and this is something these apps fail to promote or foster. Think about how you choose to swipe right on someone. They’re attractive, they have an interesting bio, and they’re around your age––or maybe a little bit older or younger. Do you think about that when you begin to develop a friendship with someone? Most likely not. The more I think about it, the more the process of the apps seems artificial and forced to me. Friends come into your life naturally, and relationships should, too.  

Also, with these apps––at least in my experience––the first meeting is not “hanging out with a friend,” but it is the first date. You get to know your potential partner as exactly that, a potential partner, and not as a friend. There is no true foundation for the relationship; it may or may not come out of this, and it is problematic that you and the other person’s attraction is mostly based on physical appearance. Though your date may be a kind person, and the relationship may work out well, you will only know them as your significant other or your hookup buddy and not completely as a person or a friend. 

I have never had a friendship-based relationship before. In fact, the one time I had a crush on a friend of mine and told him, it ended in disaster. After a year of friendship, I wrote a song about him and then gave it to him on a CD with a letter––and I was mortified when he friend-zoned me over a text. Before I used dating apps, my crushes ended in disaster and my love life was nonexistent. I also have very few platonic male friends––three, in fact, and only one whom I occasionally see in person. So, I thought that using apps would be a great way to explore relationships and to connect with someone, which is something I had always wanted. 

On the other side of this, I recently spoke with a very close friend of mine who said that OkCupid was a good site to use. Although she has no interest in a relationship, she said that everyone she knows who is in a good, solid relationship either used this site, or started out dating, and not as friends. The site provides an opportunity to write an extensive bio and asks you questions, unlike Bumble or Tinder, where there is a word count. From what she told me, OkCupid sounds like they are trying to create is a relationship that is more than a romance––but it still does not sound like a friendship. Until I try it (which, in the future, I may), I cannot say for sure how well it works, and the experience is different for everyone.

I’m not trying to say that dating apps are bad or useless, or to speak against their use. Everyone has different dating preferences, and that is what makes people’s romantic experiences so varied and interesting. For casual dating, apps like Tinder and Bumble work great––for more serious relationships, they can still be used, but I would recommend being friends with your match first. 

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