The use of social networking apps for example Tinder have been on the rise since they first became mainstream in around 2012 (Ciocca et al., 2020).
While there are advantages to online dating like opening up a new dating audience through ‘broader access, for example a larger geographical area, as new list of potential matches and having the advantage of being able to use in the comfort of your home, it also presents new challenges to the dating world.
Dating apps and lack of Connection
‘Liquid love’ is the term coined by Zygmunt Bauman used to describe the change in dating and relationships from more secure and strong connections to the new age technological dating that is best described as a ‘commodified game’ (Bauman, 2003 as cited in Hobbs, Owen & Gerber, 2016).
We are seeing more and more Tinder and other social dating apps like Grindr being used purely as a ‘hook up’ tool and as a result many are left feeling a lack of connection and have difficulty finding a potential partner for a relationship (Newett, Churchill & Robards, 2017). There is a throw away mentality, where a Tinder user is ‘‘secure in the knowledge they can always return to the marketplace for another bout of shopping” (Bauman, 2003, 2012 as cited Hobbs, Owen & Gerber, 2016, p. 272).
It is arguable that lifelong relationships are being broken down by the availability of choice that is presented through these apps, which can challenge a more traditional ideal of love, monogamy and long-term meaningful relationships? According to Bauman “Dating is being transformed into a recreational activity, where people are seen as largely disposable as one can always ‘press delete’’’ (Bauman, 2003 as cited in Hobbs, Owen & Gerber, 2016, p. 274).
Dating apps and ghosting
Ghosting is different from other relationship dissolution strategies insofar as it takes place without the ghosted mate immediately knowing what has happened, who is left to manage and understand what the partner’s lack of communication means and is unable to close the relationship. (Navarro, Larrañaga, Yubero & Víllora, 2020, p. 2)
This often leaves the ‘ghosted’ questioning their self-worth and their role in the relationship break up without any reasonable answers and a sense of loneliness. “Poor quality intimate relationships and breakups are often associated with less well-being, such as anger, sadness, psychological distress, and depression’ (Belu, Lee & O'Sullivan, 2016)
One online cross-sectional study completed in Spain in 2019 (Belu, Lee & O'Sullivan, 2016) reports that there was no significant emotional correlation or difference in psychological distress of those that were ghosted and other participants that were not. The study also indicated that the ghosted did suffer some emotional distress but indicated that they recovered more quickly from this ‘ghosting’ experience, as opposed to those who had been ‘breadcrumbed’.
Whilst Tinder has its advantages and is used widely by more than 50 million users (Strubel & Petrie, 2017) the challenges when using dating apps need to be considered. If one is looking for an intimate relationship – the question to be addressed is how are these apps fostering intimacy and connection. There is a general overall feeling of a lack of connection when using Tinder, as well as a level of emotional distress after experiencing ghosting from a relationship that was initiated on dating apps such as Tinder.
Belu, C., Lee, B., & O'Sullivan, L. (2016). It Hurts to Let You Go: Characteristics of Romantic Relationships, Breakups and the Aftermath Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Relationships Research, 7. doi: http://doi.org /10.1017/jrr.2016.11
Ciocca, G., Robilotta, A., Fontanesi, L., Sansone, A., D'Antuono, L., Limoncin, E., Nimbi, F., Simonelli, C., Di Lorenzo, G., Siracusano, A. and Jannini, E., 2020. Sexological Aspects Related to Tinder Use: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature. Sexual Medicine Reviews, 8(3), pp.367-378.
Couch, D., Liamputtong, P., & Pitts, M. (2012). What are the real and perceived risks and dangers of online dating? Perspectives from online daters. Health, Risk & Society, 14(7-8), 697-714. doi: http://doi.org/10.1080/13698575.2012.720964
Finkel, E., Eastwick, P., Karney, B., Reis, H., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online Dating. Psychological Science In The Public Interest, 13(1), 3-66. doi: http://doi.org/10.1177/1529100612436522
Hobbs, M., Owen, S., & Gerber, L. (2016). Liquid love? Dating apps, sex, relationships and the digital transformation of intimacy. Journal Of Sociology, 53(2), 271-284. doi: http://doi.org/10.1177/1440783316662718
Newett, L., Churchill, B., & Robards, B. (2017). Forming connections in the digital era: Tinder, a new tool in young Australian intimate life. Journal Of Sociology, 54(3), 346-361. doi: 10.1177/1440783317728584
Navarro, R., Larrañaga, E., Yubero, S., & Víllora, B. (2020). Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Breadcrumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among Adults. International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health, 17(3), 1116. doi: http://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031116
Strubel, J., & Petrie, T. (2017). Love me Tinder: Body image and psychosocial functioning among men and women. Body Image, 21, 34-38. doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.02.006