October 1, 2023

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Dating apps: boon or curse?

Dating apps: boon or curse?

How can a user get the most out of a dating app?

People have always tried to be lucky in love. But the internet and especially cell phones have revolutionized the way we look for partners.

According to Berlin-based psychologist and dating expert Pia Kampetz, online dating has become a necessity in many countries today, especially for the younger generation. A 2023 survey found that 77% of people ages 16-29 and 66% of people ages 30-49 have dated someone they met online. In addition, most couples today meet primarily through the Internet.

One such case is that of 31-year-old Brazilian Giovanna Zanvorlin and her partner, Juliana. As Giovanna says, “Online dating is often superficial but also practical. You don’t have to go somewhere to meet someone. You’ll immediately know what their sexual orientation is.”

The algorithm is crucial

Dating through popular apps like Tinder, Bumble, or Grindr usually works like this: Users create a profile with photos and some personal information and write down what they’re looking for. The algorithm then works to put them in touch with other users based on their location, preferences, and interests.

Tinder offers one of these types of online dating. Users can swipe suggested profiles on the screen left to reject them or right when they like the suggested user. Thus, interested parties decide within seconds which profile they prefer.

When it became known a few years ago that Tinder’s algorithm applied a so-called ‘elo score’, to promote more ‘attractive’ users, there was a huge backlash.

“You’re selling yourself as an off the shelf product.”

Spaniard Alfonso Rosales García, who has been living in Berlin for two years and uses dating app Hinge, is also critical of how shallow dating apps are: “It’s funny, sometimes you feel like you have to sell yourself as a product on the shelves.” The 29-year-old also points out another paradox of dating apps: the better the app works, the faster it loses customers. “Service providers want to profit from the lives of the people they meet through the app. That’s why they show more paying users.”

Like Alfonso, many are frustrated with certain aspects of online dating. Pia Kampetz agrees, but thinks it’s a mistake to only look for flaws in apps: “How users use apps and what they do with their new acquaintances is up to them. And this is where the reasons for disappointment often lie: users accept dozens of profiles, although For example, then they complain that their acquaintance is superficial and non-committal.

However, dating apps have other drawbacks. Like other social media, it carries the risk of addiction. Some people just can’t stop looking through the different profiles suggested. Just the prospect of a new companion brings a powerful dose of dopamine to the brain.

Mental health risks?

Unlimited choices can also become very tiring for the user, who becomes “overloaded” and loses his attention and patience more and more from knowledge to knowledge.

Numerous studies also show that dating apps can cause stress, dissatisfaction, or exacerbate mental health issues. Elias Abujaoundi, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, studied 1,300 Tinder users and their satisfaction with the app.

He stated in his research findings that “online dating appears to be an ineffective solution for people facing issues related to their mental health”. And as someone who has dealt with problematic internet use for 15 years, she parallels Tinder with other social media, which can exacerbate depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Correct use of the application is key

Users themselves can avoid unhealthy use of the application. Kambitz stresses that one must be aware of exactly what they are looking for. Users should also take the time to review suggested profiles and remember that behind every profile is a human being with feelings. If they themselves are ‘rejected’ or get a few likes, it is important to remember that ‘it is not the person who is ‘rejected’ as a person, but only a small part of themselves that they reveal online.

The many doors that online dating opens can be overwhelming, in both positive and negative ways. Ultimately, the conscious use of apps can be the deciding factor in whether a person will truly find a suitable partner or just a waste of time.

Edited by: Giorgos Basas

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