Updated: January 27, 2023
- Online dating is becoming more popular as social distancing becomes the norm.
- Match Group, owner of the dating apps Tinder, OkCupid, Handy, and Match.com reported a spike in the number of conversations exchanged among daters since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to MarketWatch.
- But the use of these dating apps widely differs based on gender.
As social distancing becomes the norm during the coronavirus pandemic, more people are turning to dating apps to find love.
Match Group, the owner of dating sites including Tinder, OkCupid, Handy, and Match.com, said people are having much longer conversations on apps during the pandemic, MarketWatch reported. Bumble, a competing dating app, has seen also seen a 21% increase in engagement.
But, if you want to land a virtual date, it’s important to know how your potential mates are using the apps — and it often varies based on gender.
A group of scientists at Queen Mary University of London, Sapienza University of Rome, and Royal Ottawa Health Care Group studied the behavior of Tinder users and found that women generally swipe right only for men they’re seriously interested in, while men are less picky. That ultimately leads to a frustrating experience for everyone.
For the study, the scientists created 14 fake profiles of male and female Tinder users and set them loose in New York and London. The fake users liked everyone — thousands of people — within a 100-mile radius.
The researchers were interested specifically in how many “likes” each profile would rack up (i.e. how many matches they’d make) and how many messages they would receive from users they’d matched with.
Results showed stark differences.
The fake men only matched with others 0.6% of the time. The fake women, on the other hand, matched with others 10.5% of the time.
Interestingly, most of the matches for the fake women and fake men came from men, suggesting that homosexual men are more willing to swipe right than heterosexual women are.
As for messages, just 7% of male matches sent a message, compared to 21% of women.
In other words, men aren’t so choosy about who they swipe right for — but they’re rarely invested enough in the person to send a message. By contrast, women only swipe right when they’re really interested in someone.
The researchers say there could be a “feedback loop” happening here. They write: “Men see that they are matching with few people, and therefore become even less discerning: women, on the other hand, find that they match with most men, and therefore become even more discerning.”
In fact, several Tinder users told the researchers as much in a separate survey. As many as 80% of male users who admitted to “casually” liking most profiles said they swipe right on more than half of all the women they see — and that’s because they so rarely match with anyone.
Other dating apps may do a better job of stopping this vicious cycle before it starts.
Bumble, for example, only allows women to message men they’re interested in and not the other way around.
Research suggests that women may be more choosy simply because of social norms about men having to initiate contact. In one speed-dating study, women rotated around men — instead of men rotating around women, as per usual — and gender differences in selectivity disappeared.
Meanwhile, on OKCupid, where men and women can message each other, women gain an advantage when they send a note to men instead of waiting to receive one.
Another interesting finding from the new Tinder study: The researchers say most Tinder activity happens around 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., or regular commuting times. So perhaps, for some people, Tinder is more like a game than anything serious — just a way to pass the time and maybe get something out of it.
If that sounds like you, and you’re not especially frustrated by your online dating experience, then more power to you. But if you’re investing time and energy into finding love on Tinder to no avail, at this point it might be worth looking into other options.