Dating apps in the Pandemic indeed pave the way into the real LOVE



Let’s face it, dating apps can be a little weird. Two people behind a screen communicate in order to possibly meet one day. But what happens now, during the Pandemic, as it brings an incredible change in people’s both professional and personal life. How does the app organize us, when it is impossible to meet the person in the outside world? Did they really lose their purpose? The aim of the presentation today is to investigate the increasing use during the covid 19 era and how the user’s behavior changed. To gain insight into this research question we went into the field ourselves as well as developed a questionnaire regarding user motivation.  


First, we decided to set the background and explore the general use of dating apps, regardless of the timing. We discussed that even though they were created mostly for finding a partner or enabling casual dating, some unusual unintended usage occured. For instance it is common to use Tinder as a mere self-confidence boosting tool, or as an easy access to business collaborations. Some people even use it solely for financial gains, such as free drinks. 


Moreover, throughout the week we noticed how significant is the pay-off between risk and potential gains from using the app. On one hand, with the huge “supply” of singles the possibility of finding the love of your life is great. However, the risk of your most  intimate data being misused against your will is  quite frightening. 


When it comes to the background findings from the survey we conducted, we definitely noticed that users feel uncomfortable with the artificiality of the relationships. Lack of real emotions, connection and engagement is often mentioned. Moreover, it seems clear that the indicated advantage of real life dating is that one usually meets the other person within certain context, whether it is the same work, hobby, etc.  Simply the common ground eases the first stages of the relationship. 


Next, we discussed trust. From the visiting lecturer’s work on establishing trust in the online environment (Bialski, 2009) we learned that the trust occurs once the virtual community shares the same goal, hence we were interested to know how is this aspect actually organised among the dating society.  We were surprised to see that in fact the users very often indicate little or no  trust while using Tinder. Although, we hypothesised that this missing element may be due to the lack of  common goal for the community of online dating, which was actually proven by our survey insights. 


Another aspect that we discovered ourselves, as well as we found out from the questionnaire is that the gamified activities such as swiping or unmatching provide users with great empowerment. Even though some users felt uncomfortable – reporting experiences similar to  visiting  “huge supermarket with infinite variety of product” – a majority acknowledged that swiping gives them control and confidence.


In our survey, we also really wanted to answer the main research question that we posed. The results indeed proved our hypothesis, that the intentions to use Tinder actually changed due to the Pandemic. More users claimed to open the app only to seek social interaction, fight boredom or connect with other human beings. Whereas before the primary purpose was the intention to find love or sex.  We argued that people will in general tend to use the dating apps more, for they are more motivated or internally pressured to find partner which can support them during the difficult times. We indeed found out that 88% of people use Tinder more often than  in the usual setting. 


We noticed that some people developed kind of uncertainty about the situation adding up with a need for control and anxiety. 45 % felt anxious about the corona, but  80 % felt that dating apps help them to reduce this tension.  But it helped even more. It clearly helped to reduce one important fact we are all fighting: loneliness. Being all by yourself at home can provoke a desperation for seeking love and even the willingness to put a lot of effort into this search for a partner. Some even seem to give up their rational, critical thinking. 


Concerning the self presentation, people started taking up elements of the crisis to present themselves in a humorous way. Showing some funny photos of corona beers or wrapping it into texts. 

Another outcome of the survey is that using the app now is connected to a completely different context of movement. Once the only way of getting to know the people was to show some guts and go outside to meet them in person. Now you can just sit comfortably on your sofa and let the virtual conversation take over. 


In times before Covid 19 people tried to avoid telling people the truth about how they met. They wouldn’t admit it and some even became very inventive with their stories. But now the people are kind of forced to use the app and to meet people there. So maybe it becomes the new standard after it is all over.  Some people tend to demonize the app and complain about the interchangeability and superficiality, which is paradox because even though they’re using it. So maybe it already became the new standard. 


Obviously, the current crisis has the power to change the entire way dating apps organize the formation of human relationships. The virus slowed things down. Given the necessity to stay inside and to relinquish any social activity, people can’t do the usual small talk, but might talk about more intimate topics, in order to really get to know each other. Additionally, sex and money lose their relevance in the dating context: If we are forced to meet virtually there’s no chance that discussions about who is paying for dinner and drinks arise; status symbols become less salient. We can’t have sex at the first date, but instead are encouraged to talk in the first place; to get back to the essential aspects that really determine love and affection without being influenced by bodily attraction. The virus seems to shift priorities and has the potential to change relationships even in the long term. In the future, it might be the standard to get to know each other virtually first before meeting in real life. This offers potential to diminish the negative stigmatization usually associated with dating apps: people might no more feel ashamed about having found their partner via Tinder, but might face a higher social acceptance of relationships like these. We want to take an optimistic – maybe naive – point of view by claiming that the crisis has the potential to change relationships for the good, to find our way back into real love. To reduce the current superficiality of dating apps to some extent and to focus on more natural elements of getting to know each other again. Are we in a situation where the concept of “slow love” might take over again?

Romantic love can be triggered, whereas feelings of deep attachment take time to develop. We were built for slow love – and this pandemic is continuing to draw out this courtship process.” – New York Times

Created by: Marielle, Muriel & Martyna