“After months in Tinder, swiping boys as products in Amazon, I felt it was too easy to find a new guy. Why should I only be with one?” Carolina (25) an art student and user of different apps such as Tinder and Happen says, when I asked her about her experience in love, sex, and relationships in the Tinder era.
From Tinder to Grindr, hooking up to settling down, the options for finding love or sex seem limitless and overwhelming. “There are so many options that when you find someone you like, you can feel like you’re losing something else outside”, explains Carolina.
Since dating apps appeared, the way people meet potential partners and start relationships has become easier and faster. We are living in the age of immediacy, where it is possible to get almost any product from your phone in minutes. There are online catalogs for anything… and yes, also for people. Relationships in the Tinder era and the way we interact with others is changing faster than ever. Technology and apps established a new era in the history of romance.
Too many options?
What Caroline describes is not unusual. Some people claim that it is difficult to keep a long-term relationship with so many options around. This behavior has been studied by Schawarts in 2014 and it was cited in The decision lab. The concept is called “the paradox of choice”, where an increased freedom of choice, results in decreased subjective well-being. As human beings, we have difficulty managing complex options. Increasing the number of attractive alternatives has been shown to increase the level of internal conflict in making a decision.
“To be honest, the idea of multiple choices is fictive. When you are surfing the app, you may feel like there are lots of options right there but it is artificial. “In the end, you have too many options and you have nothing at all at the same time” says Ben (34), a web designer who has been using Tinder for nearly 5 years. “But Tinder is addictive, you can’t stop swiping, the possibilities pile up”, he says. This could sum the feeling of many users who have used dating apps for long, having multiple dating and short-term relationships that never truly materialize.
Actually, for some people the idea of swiping and have small-talk conversations that fizzled out soon, increase their anxiety. Mary (36), a sales assistant who turned to apps like Tinder, Bubble, and Happen to find love, says: “I’ve come off them after a while because I couldn’t find anything serious. I felt involved in a circle of dating, having sex sometimes, and repeat. For some people it might be great, but it’s just not for me.”
Nevertheless, Mary thinks that dating apps are an opportunity to meet people who would be impossible to meet under other circumstances. I met people from other cities, with different ideas and hobbies. Some of them are still my friends. “It’s highly unlikely that I would’ve met them during my ‘normal life”.
The pickier modern culture
The myriad options are synonymous with the modern love. Relationships in the Tinder era are part of our culture, with their pros and cons. There’s a popular opinion that Tinder and other dating apps might make people pickier or more reluctant to settle on a single monogamous partner, an idea that the comedian Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg suggested in their 2015 book, Modern Romance:
People who are looking for love today have an unprecedented set of options on the search for an amazing romantic partners…And, unlikely many in prior generations, nearly all of us will only marry someone we love… We have a whole new romantic culture based on an epic search for the right person. A search that can take us through college and various career steps. A search that also takes new forms, because in today’s romantic climate a lot of the actions happens in our screens.
“The apps are the new cafes”
For some people like Victor (30), apps are a part of their life. “It’s comfortable. I can meet people from everywhere”. Victor has been using Grindr, Wapo, and Planet Romeo, which are apps for the gay community. “I use them simultaneously and they are part of my life. It’s like having an avatar, the apps are the new cafes.”
Anna (33), used the app for one year and had several dates, “most of the guys I met weren’t compatible with me but I had good experiences and met amazing people who I wouldn’t have met if I had not had the App. It is an easy way to find casual sex. Finding love is more difficult but I think it’s possible.
Anna is no longer on Tinder. She started a relationship with someone she met in “the real world”. But she is willing to open it again, if she feels “bored”. The fact that apps are comfortable, make them attractive for many people. You can do some swiping from your sofa, wearing your pajamas, with no effort. It is the comfort of love, sex, and relationships in the Tinder era.
This comfort is embodied in the fact that the number of people downloading dating apps continues to increase. In the end, the apps are facilitating interactions between people who might never have crossed paths otherwise. Whether they look for a relationship or a casual hook-up, the easy way to meet people is one of the first reasons to use apps. For now, the apps are part of the society and the trend doesn’t seem to end. “Apps are like a good database. I knew all my boyfriends on apps”, says Victor. “It’s like a rule of the modern love”.