Dating Advice

How To Find Love On Mobile Dating Apps (Not Just Sex)

Lisa*, a 28-year-old New Yorker who works in media, was at an engagement party about six months ago when a friend introduced Lisa to her new boyfriend. The new couple, it came out in dialogue, met through the mobile dating app Hinge. “Wait a minute,” Lisa thought. “They met on Hinge, which matches members based almost entirely on a profile picture? Isn’t d on Hinge, do they? “But the new boyfriend was attractive—adorable, even. Isn’t that something Individuals just use for casual hook-ups? No one actually meets a boyfriend had a job. He seemed normal. “I’m standing there looking at him and thinking this is someone I would date,” she said. That was the push Lisa needed. She downloaded the Hinge app soon after the party. Flash forward a few months and Lisa is regularly dating guys she meets on Hinge, with one guy in particular in the forefront. She uses the app at her convenience, including during random moments of downtime, such as on lazy Sunday mornings, and even during tedious work conference calls. “I had a Hinge date last night, and I have another one tonight,” says Lisa. “And the funny thing about the guy I’m dating is that he lives in my neighbourhood. We could have—should have—met a million times before, but we go to a different gym, a different grocery store and a different dry cleaner. This is someone I should have met and never would have met [without Hinge].”For Lisa and scores of Individuals who use Hinge, mobile applications have transformed online dating as we know it. Tim Loving, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Texas and co-editor of “The Science of Relationships,” says mobile applications were bound to be the next step. “The increasing popularity [of mobile dating applications] primarily reflects the dramatic changes we’ve seen in technology over the past couple of decades as well as the fact that Individuals have generally become more isolated given job demands, urbanization, etc.—and in no small part to the increasing technology,” he says. “As a result, Individuals need to take advantage of any tool they can use to meet others, and the use of dating applications is a natural approach given how wired Individuals are these days. “How It Works Based on GPS technology and a Facebook profile, Hinge members log on and see profile pictures of other members up to 100 miles away. Along with a photo, members see first names, ages, possibly a few descriptive words and mutual likes pulled from Facebook. Not into the profile pictures you see? Swipe left to continue looking at user photos. Ready to make a match? Swipe right to like. If the cutie in the photo has swiped on you, too, a match is made. (If he hasn’t, he might, so be patient.) Matched couples can start a chat, and eventually take the relationship offline (or not).Hinge does not disclose the number of its members, but claims to make 10 million matches per day. More than half of its members are between the ages of 18 and 24, with 32% between the ages of 25 and 34.Although Hinge and other mobile dating applications are relatively new, Lisa sees them as something closer to how Individuals meet in real life. On Hinge, members browse through photos and stop on the most attractive images. In real life, we might browse the faces in a room and stop at the most attractive faces. “In a way, it’s more organic than online dating,” she notes. “It better replicates the process of seeing someone and getting interested in them. It’s like, you glance at their picture and they’re cute, and you scroll to the next picture and you’re like, okay, they’re really cute. You see something else you can talk about, and then you proceed to your dialogue. To me, it mirrors more closely the way someone would strike up a dialogue. “But judging whether or not someone is worth a chat based on a simple profile photo—isn’t that what we’re always told not to do? It seems shallow, right? Not necessarily, says Rachel Jacobs, a New York City-based therapist and relationship expert who frequently counsels single clients. Dating applications started to take off amongst Jacobs’s clients about a year ago. At first, she wasn’t sure what to make of a dating method that puts the initial emphasis on looks, and like Lisa, Jacobs assumed Hinge members were just looking for casual hook ups. Jacobs has since come around. “If Individuals are using these applications for dating and to meet new Individuals with the possibility of romance, I’m all for it,” she says. “Everything is technology-based today and young Individuals who want to be in a relationship leading to marriage are trying all different resources to get that going. How can they take control of their own destiny as opposed to sitting around, waiting to be matched up? “For Hinge members like Lisa, mobile dating applications are so attractive that they’ve stopped using full-profile dating sites such as and Lisa, in fact, had joined—a full-profile site for Individuals interested in Jewish singles—but says she’s barely used it in months. For some, the immediacy and convenience of the app is more appealing. Who wants to fill out a long dating profile with dozens of probing questions, some of which feel like they require a college-entrance essay’s worth of thought, when singles can meet with a few simple Hinge swipes? “Something I like about the applications is because there’s not that much information, when you sit down with someone, it might make it [feel] more spontaneous, whereas with you already know about the person,” Jacobs says. “Sometimes you have too much time to obsess over a profile [online] or to be judgmental regarding someone else’s profile. The fun thing about Hinge is that you know a little but not too much. “William, a 22-year-old Boston University graduate now living in New York City, first used Hinge for fun, inviting girls to fraternity parties or just to pass the time with friends. Now that he’s moved on from college life, he is more interested in using Hinge to suss out potential dates. “The Individuals I select on Hinge now, it’s not a game anymore,” he says. “Now, it’s a way to meet Individuals. “Both William and Lisa have found there are more guys using Hinge than women’s. In fact, Hinge says 55% of its members are guys. There’s no clear reason for that, although Jacobs thinks guys are generally more impatient with having to fill out the long profiles often required on dating websites. They don’t want to sit and write about what they’re looking for in a girl or the last book they read, and the applications just seem really quick, easy and fun,” she says. “If you did start off with the [idea] of this being a good way to hook up, clearly you’re going to get more guys. But I would say, if there are more guys out there, then girls should go for it! “The Drawbacks—downloaded but every app has its pros and cons. Because William has noticed there are so many more guys than women’s  on Hinge—“I feel like I’m just one in a long line of guys,” he said—he has gravitated toward an app called Hinge, which is also Facebook-based. Hinge only suggests matches with whom members have a second- or third-degree Facebook connection, so there’s a shot of having friends in common. “I think it’s a little bit more of a reasonable and easier way to meet someone than, totally random, there are a million Individuals in NYC, let’s just match up based on pictures,” says William. “I think that’s kind of a shallow way to do it. ”Lisa also uses Hinge, but hasn’t been as successful with it. Now that her friends, also in their late 20s, are starting to get married, she has a smaller pool of single friends connected through Facebook so finding dates can be just as challenging as it is in the real world. Another thing dating applications have in common with the real-time dating world: weirdos and creepy moments. Although William has never met anyone in person after chatting with them on Hinge, the aspiring stand-up comedian recalls one instance during a friendly Hinge chat with a woman who suddenly steered the dialogue in a sexual direction. “We were having a normal dialogue and then all of a sudden she started getting overtly sexual,” he says. “She was like, ‘I just got home from a long day—do you want to have some fun?’ I thought that was pretty weird considering I didn’t know her. Eventually, she said. ‘By the way, we can talk on my webcam—don’t worry, it will ask you for your credit card number but just to verify your age.’ ” That, he says, was the end of that chat. Lisa is quick to put a stop to anything in a chat that makes her uncomfortable. Chats that open with questions about her breast size, for example, are immediately shut down. “I probably get the same frequency of incredibly creepy messages that lots women’s do, but the block feature is very simple to use,” she says. “I think a lot of it is how much you’re willing to entertain from Individuals, and I’m not willing to entertain a lot. “While far from perfect, Jacobs believes that dating applications are a good thing overall—think of them as another option in your dating arsenal. “I’m a big believer that everyone needs dating experience,” she says. “These applications are quick and easy for twenty-somethings to get out there, meet a lot of Individuals, date around and learn what you like and what you don’t like. It’s really good to cut your teeth on that kind of stuff.”

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