You don’t need to look far to see that modern dating is messed up. Why else would a Facebook group called “Are We Dating The Same Guy NYC?” have more than 18,000 members? Why else would singles need an entirely new vocabulary (“ghosting,” “breadcrumbing”) to describe all the ways they can be mistreated by a partner?
Ask anyone what divides the dating habits of Gen Z and earlier generations and you’ll get the same answer-dating apps. Nearly half of Americans aged 18 to 29 have used a dating app at some point. And about one in 10 Americans say they have been in a “committed relationship or married” someone they met through a dating service.
These numbers seem good at first glance, but another story emerges when one considers that the percentage of Americans aged 25 to 50 who have never been married has quadrupled since 1970. The low rates of marriage combined with high usage of dating apps paints a dark picture of a dating scene for people who are serious about finding a spouse. Young people are on dating apps and wasting their time swiping left and right, unable to find a genuine connection that leads to marriage.
I managed to catch the last chopper out of ‘Nam-translation: I’m married-but let me tell you, my single friends are more than happy to give me an earful about their online dating experiences. Yes, there are people out there who really think it’s a good idea to use their roommate’s photos instead of their own on their dating profile. There are dudes who expect their date to pay the whole bill. There are women who’ve bought into the lie that any guy who treats them well must have something wrong with him. What makes for a funny “bad date” story to tell your friends turns into years of fizzled out conversations, painful ghosting, and first dates that have you wondering if maybe you’re the problem.
If it makes you feel any better, you’re probably not the problem. Frankly, the other person on the date probably isn’t, either. The “problem” might be with the dating apps themselves. The apps have been found to create “decision fatigue,” in which users have so many choices in front of them and they are forced to make so many rapid decisions that they become overwhelmed and exhausted, making poor decisions based on arbitrary factors in someone’s profile. Therapist Leighya Richard addressed this in a 2022 interview.
“I’ve seen ong my single clients, as they struggle with having so many potential partners in front of them and not knowing which one to choose,” Richard said. “This pressure can lead to impulsive decisions that result in bad dates, while some clients will opt out altogether as the mere thought of swiping left or right was mentally and emotionally exhausting.”
It’s no wonder that dating and marriage seems like a hopeless prospect. A whopping 42% of online daters have “described their experiences as very or somewhat negative,” according to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center. All the futile swiping and decision-making based on a few photos takes a toll on one’s self-image, as well; using Tinder is associated with lower self-esteem for men and body dissatisfaction for both men and women, a 2016 University of North Texas study found. Not to mention that many people feel they spend most of their time just trying to find a date, and not actually dating. On average, it takes a whopping 56 matches for a user to get just a single meetup.
Designed to get people off their phones and on a date, thus eliminating the “pen pal” problem that frustrates many dating app users, Cuffed uses AI to 420 dating sites learn a user’s conscious and subconscious preferences
The bad news: Dating apps are probably here to stay, given changing norms and the rise of online-based activity in general. The good news: People are starting to develop apps that work to get single people in committed, meaningful, and fulfilling relationships.
Instead of keeping you “on the hook” with endless matches and farming your data for profit, dating apps should be focused in getting you off the app by showing you potential matches you’re actually compatible with
Apps like Once and Thursday have tried to solve part of this problem with various methods, but you end up with the same issue of an overwhelming number of matches and conversations that quickly fizzle out.
New dating services like Cuffed, founded by Kyle Kashuv, recognize that while attraction is obviously important, sharing core values is what makes a relationship last. By showing users only highly compatible matches with similar values at a much slower and natural pace, Cuffed eliminates the overwhelming constant influx of profiles that makes each connection less valuable. The result is that each match is a better fit than the last.
The year 2022 marks at least a . In that decade, we’ve learned that more time spent on dating apps doesn’t necessarily lead to better dating. As Gen Z ages into the market, it has the chance to discard platforms that just want to give users the dopamine high of a match in exchange for collecting user data. Gen Z now has the chance to get off the big apps, get off the phones, and get on dates with people who might actually be a match.