Swipe Right, Swipe Left: How Dating Apps Revolutionized Dating

The dating world has drastically changed since the era of traditional matchmakers. Every town had a matchmaker, whose primary mission was to find every boy and girl a match. Yente, the matchmaker from the musical Fiddler on the Roof, is the epitome of an “old world” matchmaker. Yente knew families, personalities, the locals, and as such secured her own position in the community. Matchmaking was an essential job in old Russia, so why isn’t it around today? How are today’s men and women any different from our ancestors centuries ago?

The dating world has evolved since the golden age of matchmakers, but that does not mean a little dating assistance should be shunned. The hard part comes when assistance is not through a cute, old lady, but rather through digital mediums.

The Need for Digital Dating

Why do we need digital mediums, or “apps,” for dating assistance? Because workplace romances are on the decline (probably for the better), blind dates are becoming more rare, and the bar scene was never that great in the first place.

Workplace romance is less common for fear of jeopardizing one’s career, concern over accusations of harassment, or simply the lack of opportunities to meet people through work. For example, the heteronormative roles assumed in the workplace over the past 60 years is now uncommon. Since men and women see each other differently, and a new level of professionalism has emerged, the opportunity for romance is reduced. Imagine a workplace that resembled scenes from Mad Men. Exactly, that would never exist today. Yes, there are still male-dominated professions, but today, there are also female-dominated professions. As a result of the change in work culture, men and women recognize that finding a meaningful partner at, or through, work is difficult.

Unfortunately, the traditional blind date is also on the brink of extinction due to a concept of “urban community.” Today, many single people live in major cities, sprawling with far too many people and opportunity. Consequently, individuals build “urban communities” or “bubbles.” The bubble includes a small group of friends and young individuals who stick together for social activities in order to foster a community, connections, and a sense of belonging in our fast-paced worlds. Since young people stick to the same group of people, they are less likely to be introduced to a potential partner through an existing friend.

If a single person is not meeting someone through work or through friends, there is also the nightlife scene, right? Wrong. While meeting a meaningful partner out at night is possible, it is highly improbable. Plus, many single professionals use their nightlife scene as an opportunity to “let loose” with existing friends. Of course, many men and women are on the prowl at bars and nightclubs, but instant chemistry aside, how do you filter anyone at a bar?

The Digital Dating Revolution

Wow. So, where does the single person find a partner? It appears some assistance is necessary. What used to be the last resort for many individuals is now becoming the accepted and preferred norm: online platforms and apps for dating.

First off, why are dating apps preferable to online platforms, such as eHarmonyMatch, or OkCupid? These online platforms require or encourage you to divulge personal information via text. Just as it is difficult to get a first impression right on the first time at a bar or party, it is hard to get a first impression right through prescribed text and deliberate photos that capture your fun, athletic, loving, and professional sides. Reveal too much and you are deemed an “overshareer,” reveal too little and people begin to question why you didn’t write more. Second, and most important, these online platforms have fees. Therefore, what is their ultimate goal? To make money, not seek meaningful matches. We are using a computerized Yente who has her built-in algorithms to find you a mate.

Dating apps revolutionized dating, not necessarily because they have led to more relationships, but rather because dating is a recognized priority, and perhaps a more enjoyable process because of the apps. Dating still may not be a whole-ton-of-fun, but the intense pressure associated with a date decreases as people become more comfortable dating. There is a conscious realization when downloading an app geared for meeting a partner, that, for lack of a better phrase, the person is “single and ready to mingle.” Dating in the digital era is no longer secretive, and with everyone on these apps the stigma has dissipated. Yes, of course, one becomes discouraged, or disappointed if there are no matches. Or perhaps worse, when you have matches, but your objectives are not aligned (e.g., hook up versus relationship).

Secondly, the apps are better than their serious online alternatives, because for both sexes the first filter is looks. We marry for love these days, so attraction should be the first baseline when reviewing mates. Now, here is the public service announcement, guys and gals: stop looking for Ryan Gosling and Scarlett Johansson. Swipe right for your standard of beauty and compatibility. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is the concept of fun. Is every picture of the person running a marathon actually the same lifestyle for you, the person who considers walking to the metro your only exercise? For heaven’s sake people, stop swiping right to people you have little compatibility with! If you are interested in casual dating or a hook up, write something in your profile that informs others of your outlook. It may be necessary to do a little filtering while quickly swiping, but do not go overboard or become picky on an app.

Lastly, a word on when you have a match. An unfortunate byproduct of the dating apps is that they encourage texting as the mode of communication. If you are even remotely intrigued by this person, communicate with them! And after a little texting on the app and you realize that he/she is not a complete bozo, ask for his/her number and ask them out. First dates are no longer elaborate evenings, so, stop hiding behind a phone.

In the end, meeting someone randomly, at an event, or through friends may make a better story for the grand kids, but for many who have the generic schedule of “get up, work, gym, eat and bed” finding someone is a challenge. Better to have the grand kids and meet your partner by swiping, than waiting for Mr. Right to magically appear. The randomness associated with meeting someone on an app may very well be just as sporadic as a bar, grocery store, or wherever you “dreamed” of meeting your one and only.