Swipe Right or Wrong? – The Effects of Online Dating App Culture

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Online dating is a phenomenon that has taken over how we meet each other and start romantic relationships. Nowadays, it’s more common to meet a significant other over an online dating platform than in any other way.

This has created an online dating app culture, and finding a partner is such an essential part of life that culture has affected our society as a whole. In particular, relationships and communication have been changed by online dating app culture – in some ways for the better, and in others, for the worse.

The concept of online dating began with mail-in questionnaires and computer-generated matches. The popularity of this type of dating was unprecedented. Once the internet came on the scene, the popularity of online dating exploded – which brings us to where we are now.

There’s something almost irresistible about having the ability to access a romantic match that’s been carefully curated just for you! And this turned the entire dating experience on its head. Instead of meeting people through traditional, in-person social interactions, the most important relationship of your life can be found over the internet. And not only that – your relationship will probably be better than it would be otherwise.

Statistically, couples who meet online have more fulfilling relationships than people who meet in person. They stay together longer and get divorced less. Overall, it’s been proven that the online dating method works – so this trend will only get more integrated into society over time. 

Since online dating isn’t going anywhere, its social impacts on relationships and communication may very well be permanent – unless there are developments, like the use of virtual reality, that make the online dating process more like meeting in person. 

Let’s get into how online dating app culture has permeated our relationships and communication overall!

How We Used to Meet

We used to meet each other by connecting in person. No matter what venue we met in, or even if we met outside, we gave each other little cues with our body language, vocal intonation, or words that let others know we wanted to start a conversation.

Now, with online dating culture in full flex, this ability to send cues to each other has been downgraded. It’s a natural asset that body language gives us, so this ability isn’t likely to disappear completely. Still, we’re out of practice as a society. 

Now, we’re used to having the safety of staying behind a screen to protect us from rejection. We don’t need to physically put ourselves out there when we can do it virtually instead. While this can help people who are shyer start a conversation, they’ll still have to deal with meeting their match in person eventually if they want their relationship to manifest.

So there’s no avoiding dealing with physical ways of connecting, but there is a little less pressure than before. When people who’ve been dating online meet, they already know each other pretty well and can be more forgiving of underwhelming physical cues – which is necessary since we’re all so out of practice!

In-Person Relationship Maintenance

We used to “spend time together” in order to continuously build and maintain our relationships. Nowadays, even when we’re physically with each other, our minds are somewhere else. And with the influx of online dating app culture, we don’t put s much importance on being physically and mentally present with each other to build and keep relationships. At the end of the day, we know we can accomplish those goals online. 

So is this a good development? It depends on the context. This is awesome for people in long-distance relationships or who develop online relationships with a compatible option that’s far away. Most of the support and nourishment our relationship needs is widely understood to be accessible over the internet.

Even if some important physical components are lacking, we typically don’t even notice. So the process has been simplified, making it easier for people to connect – even if the connections may be physically superficial.

That said, we’ve lost the importance of physical time together. When our minds can be somewhere else, and relationships can be grown online, it hardly matters that we’re physically in the same space. It can be more critical to a relationship for someone to like and share a post than to spend an hour snuggling.

And while social media is to blame for much of that, our collective understanding that relationships can be created and maintained online mainly stems from online dating app culture. 

Instant Gratification

The past few generations have become increasingly addicted to instant gratification, and the realm of dating is no exception. Now, with the introduction and widespread implementation of online dating, instant gratification can be attained when it comes to romance.

There isn’t much standing between someone making a connection with another person and giving them that dopamine hit they’re looking for. With swiping platforms, getting a mutual check will also get that result. This makes online dating a bit addictive – like a game for some more than a social interaction. 

This “gamification” of dating has led to more instant gratification. It’s also formed some concepts that have reached our cultural understanding of relationships. The ability to garner a bunch of interested potential matches quickly is an accomplishment to be bragged about. It used to be the case that finding one partner that someone could be incredibly proud to show off was the height of romantic bragging rights.

Now, with online dating app culture, that’s debatable. Our affinity for instant gratification has changed the way we value different dating concepts and how things have played out; monogamy isn’t necessarily the goal anymore – which has significant effects on society. 

Endless Possibilities

In dating, people used to be limited to the options they could make direct contact with. Now, the possibilities for matches are potentially endless. And with so many options out there, it can be tempting to resist settling down with one of them.

Many people seek the bigger, better deal – or next best thing. Traditional forms of dating simply can’t compete with the concept that there’s probably something even better out there than the partner someone’s currently considering. 

There’s an issue here: Many people have profiles that make them seem a little better than they are in real life. This can lead to disappointing results, reinforcing the belief that people aren’t likely to find the best option for them – yet. But the promise of the perfect match being in the sea of possibilities lingers on and reels people back into the online dating pool. 

If we’re being honest, online dating is in a young phase – when you consider the bigger picture, it’s still a new phenomenon! And people are experiencing social growing pains. When someone eats a new dessert for the first time, they might want to binge on it and eat the whole pan.

But once they get used to it, they’ll appreciate eating one at a time. And that’s where we’re headed – once we get over the initial collective shock of having endless options for romantic partners, we’ll hone in on finding better quality and more authentic matches. We’ve already started that process, and we’ll adapt to this change even more, given some time. 

Different Ways to Communicate

Before online dating became an option, people had a few key ways to communicate with each other. They could speak in person, they could write each other a letter, and a little later, they could speak on the phone.

Now, there are so many mediums to communicate over through online dating that people are liable to choose a favorite and stick to it. Whether it’s texting, video messaging, or even spending time with someone in virtual reality, people have more options for communicating than ever before. 

The good part about this is that it makes people more comfortable and allows them to express themselves in a way that really works for them. This opens the door to more honest, open, and comfortable communication. It will enable people to be themselves and present that genuine version in a way that fits their personal style. 

On the other hand, there’s an issue that can arise when people have to switch their communication styles. They may not want to video chat if their comfort zone is texting. They may be even less likely to meet someone in person. And so this can end up severely limiting communication in the long run. 

Different forms of communication can be a valuable asset as long as people don’t get stuck in a rut! And that rut can be a tricky trap that people can fall into without noticing. When this does happen, it’s likely to get more attention as the issue evolves over time. And as this comes more to light, people will take measures practicing these different modes of communication to avoid said rut. 

Higher Expectations

The unrealistic ways that some people present themselves online can lead to people having higher expectations for people they meet in person. Additionally, the wealth of options that people have now make the dating pool more competitive than ever. People are looking for someone they’re highly compatible with and attracted to, and they’re no longer willing to settle for what’s there.

This has been a good development for society. It’s leading to healthier, stronger, more fulfilling, and longer-lasting relationships overall! People have higher expectations and have learned to expect better quality in a partner.

And so they’ve stayed strong, looking for those high-quality options, resisting the urge to settle. Those efforts have paid off in a practical way, and relationships are all the better for it! Due to this factor, online dating app culture has developed to a point where it’s putting our society on the fast track to romantic success.

Evaluating Others

Before online dating, people had to evaluate their potential romantic partners while they got to know them. Now, we do a significant amount of that considering before we ever contact them! Key information is on the table before we start talking. We know each other’s occupations, favorite hobbies and interests, age, religious and political affiliations, and lifestyle choices with the click of a button. 

This has helped us save tons of time weeding out options in the dating game. We’ve collectively saved money, energy, and heartache because we know if there are dealbreakers in play before we start playing. 

And we’re not alone when conducting our initial evaluations – we have the help of scientific and mathematical algorithms too. They’re carefully curating a dating pool designed for us specifically on our behalf.

And trusting these algorithms makes us more open to the matches presented to us, which helps move the dating process along faster than ever. By the time we’ve made contact, we already know that our match checks every box we’re looking for. 

Ultimately, this contributes to the rise in healthy and long-lasting relationships we’re seeing on a societal scale. We start dating matches that we know we’re pretty compatible with, giving us a head start. That way, relationships start sooner, and there’s less reason for them to potentially end. 

Being Photogenic Matters

Relationships don’t even get started unless there’s a visual stimulation that warrants them. With online dating, people need to be attracted to their matches before they even glance at their profile and personality details.

Looks are more important than ever – but not just looks; photos and videos are vital to finding romantic success.

There was never a need to be photogenic in the past because you tended to see your dating options in person.

Now, basic photo-editing skills or knowing how to take a high-definition profile picture can be the difference between finding love and getting passed over. You have to be somewhat photogenic to find a high-quality match. 

People are communicating their candidacy for relationships via pictures and videos. This is a new societal development, but people have taken to it pretty quickly. We’ve incorporated this skillset into our societal fabric so we can thrive on social media and online dating platforms. 

Validation

We used to get validation almost exclusively from the people that surrounded us in person. Now, we can carefully craft and present our identities on an online dating profile and get confirmation from that. There’s less of a need to rely on our co-workers and family members for validation when we’ve got plenty of people picking us as a valuable dating prospects. 

We now have access to a wealth of feedback on social media and online dating platforms. This has never been so direct in the romantic realm. People used to have to ask someone out and risk being rejected one person at a time to get feedback. Now, the process is as simple as posting an online dating profile, and they’ll get more input than ever before. 

And with everyone safe behind their screens, the feedback is more honest than it used to be. So, we’re more prone to trust the results we get – and when we get tons of positive reactions or at least more than the negative ones we receive, we can feel a solid sense of validation. Validation is more readily available than its ever been!

If the validation is positive, it can boost our confidence and move us to choose high-quality matches. This leads to romantic success. But if it’s overwhelmingly negative, it can severely hurt us. So the jury’s out over whether this is an excellent societal development or not. But as with the other cultural changes, we’ll get used to this and adapt over time. The effects won’t have as much of an influence on our senses of ourselves as they do now. 

Takeaways

Online dating app culture has influenced relationships and communication. Our relationships are more robust and healthier than ever because of more initial evaluation, higher expectations, and more possibilities.

But we’re still learning how to incorporate physical cues and connections, break away from our go-to form of online dating communication method, and take perfect pictures. And finding those strong relationships involves leaving behind the instant gratification, validation, and addictive dopamine hits we get from staying in the online dating game. 

The adverse effects of online dating culture will mitigate themselves over time as we learn to adapt as a society. We’ll weed out the bad while holding onto the massive influx of good online dating has given us.

So even though we’re still going through some growing pains with these relatively new developments, our culture, relationships, and communication will all benefit at the end of the day!

confused woman looking at phone with question mark background and a heart-shaped speech bubble with a surprised face emoji inside of it

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