10 years of Tinder: how the app transformed love, sex and relationships

I married the love of my life thank you Tinder!” wrote Alexis Gutierrez, 24, who lives in Tacoma, USA His mobile cupid was the app that created the iconic swipe right if you’re interested or swipe left if you’re not, and believe it or not, turns 10 years old.

A decade after its inception, Tinder leads a thriving online dating app market with more than 1,500 similar apps and Revenue is expected to reach $2.85 billion in 2022according to German data site Statista.

But how has this app affected love, sex and relationships? What’s next? Let’s take a look at the evolution of internet dating.

It is believed to be one of the first published dating ads appeared in 1727. supposed to have appeared in Manchester Weekly and was written by an English woman who was looking for someone “to share her life with”. But this is far from a love story.

The Literary Magazine Lapham Quarterly reported that Helen Morrison was punished for her ad and the mayor sent her to a mental hospital for four weeks. It is believed that almost three centuries later over 300 million people worldwide use personal ads, dating apps, and technology in general in search of casual and romantic relationships.

Before dating apps existed, some people posted classified ads in what was known as the lonely hearts column. today, the stigma of using dating apps is gone like it was a decade ago and there has been a long evolution since the time of Helen.

Alexis Gutierrez says she didn’t expect to find love on TinderALEXIS GUTIERREZ

Not that Alexis Gutierrez was feeling particularly optimistic when she “swiped right” on Tinder four years ago after seeing an interesting man. After “a week or two” of virtual conversations, They decided to meet in person.

“He picked me up and I could tell he was very nervous. Luckily I didn’t,” she recalls now, nine days after she said yes to the same man, wearing a long white lace dress. “I did not expect to find love or marriage because it is true that most men, especially young adults, they’re just looking for casual dates,” says the groom of BBC.

But not everyone is convinced. “I’m not sure I have anything positive to say about Tinder,” says Amy Marie, a 30-year-old accountant in Texas, USA. He adds that “countless men” have sent him vulgar or violent messages through the app.

She shows me a screenshot of one of those messages a man sent her right after she said “hello.” “It’s definitely a love/hate relationship. [con la aplicación]. With more emphasis on hate, yes.” Chelsea Stirling, a 35-year-old woman from Nottingham, UK, had too disappointing experience with Tinder.

“People care more about how I look than what I think or say,” he claims. “I do it matches and they start talking. And then they read my profile and make me discrepancy“, He says. Or they just do discrepancy without even starting to speak.

Chelsea Sterling says people care more about how you look than what you say or think
Chelsea Sterling says people care more about how you look than what you say or thinkchelsea sterling

Amy Marie’s hatred of the app is not an isolated case. If you’re a woman, the chances of having a bad experience with dating apps are higher. A 2020 study by the Pew Research Center showed how women are disproportionately harassed.

Among women between the ages of 18 and 34. 34.57% said they received explicit messages or images they did not request. A high frequency of physical threats was also reported: 19% (compared to 9% for men). Sociologist and researcher at the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED) in Paris, Marie Bergström, studies the so-called “the privatization of dating” through apps like Tinder.

“These applications are very isolated in the sense that they are completely excluded from your social life. It is different from traditional settings where people meet, such as through friends, family, work or school, in which you really share something with others, be it friends, colleagues or places’says Bergstrom.

“Showing your genitalia in a bar is showing your genitalia to the whole world.” But that’s not the case with the screen, as you can simply disappear with the push of a button. This “extremely private and hidden” setting becomes a dangerous environment for violent behavior and that is unlikely to change in the future, the expert says.

Tinder says protecting women is “at the heart” of the world’s largest dating app.

In July 2022, the tech company announced a partnership with the group No More, which seeks to end domestic violence, but Renate Nyborg, the company’s first female CEO, acknowledged the difficulties involved. those they face when it comes to protecting women in the application. At that time he said to BBC: “Our security work is never done“.

Amy Marie says she's in a relationship
Amy Marie says she has a “love/hate” relationship with TinderAMY MARIE

However, Bergstrom admits that “weaker social control” can also have a positive effect. “Women are judged a lot more for their sexual behavior and there’s still this social stigma about being too sexually active,” he says.

“What we’re really seeing is that digital dating platforms are making it easier for women to have flings and casual relationships because you can do all of that without being judged and the whole world talking about you. “So not only is this disconnect negative, it’s, largely and the reason that explains why these apps are so popular“.

But What does this future of virtual dating look like?

You’ve probably heard that in the future, your work meetings will take place in the metaverse: a virtual reality environment where your character can sit at the table and interact with your colleagues as if they were all together in person. ok this also applies to the future of dating apps.

“With virtual reality, you can simulate kissing. You can simulate touching a body.” says Douglas Zitko, associate professor of human-computer interactions at Oakland University in the US. “Online dating values ​​this kind of experience as part of compatibility,” he explains.

But this it’s also risky. “There is a strong possibility that the negative experience that some people are having right now will be reinforced with virtual reality because of the immersion it achieves,” says Zitko. Imagine rejecting a romantic or sexual proposal from someone on a dating app.

“In virtual reality, the perpetrator would not only have the opportunity to make a very negative comment. Might as well use his character to do it. What does this mean in practice?

Research shows that women are more affected by harassment on dating apps
Research shows that women are more affected by harassment on dating appsShutterstock

Zhitko answers: “They can affect another person’s character in a negative way. Or draw phallic images in the virtual environment. And what a lot of this early research shows is that these types of experiences of unwanted caresses through virtual reality can have psychological effects very similar to what would happen if the event happened in the real world”.

Of the parts of the metauniverse that currently exist, only some – such as the Horizon Worlds – belong to the Meta. However, the company has introduced new safety measures. An example is Border staff (“personal boundary”), which prevents characters from approaching within a certain distance, making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions.

The company says it also offers a number of ways to block and report other users. “We saw how on trends come and go over the years– says Zitko. “So I think it’s too early to tell if the metaverse’s hold will hold.”

One of the most attractive features of dating apps is the chance to meet someone sitting in the other corner of the restaurantfrom the street or from your neighborhood.

Some apps are already exploring this. Single city (“single town”), for example, is a dating app consisting of a town in the metaverse where real human characters “roam, they choose where they want to go and who they want to talk to.

If you tap on one of the characters, you can see the real photos of that user, start a conversation and interact in a virtual world. “These types of apps introduce virtual meetings between the meeting and the physical date’.

“These apps don’t suggest you won’t want to see each other face-to-face, the goal seems to remain to maintain a face-to-face meeting or personal connection.”

And Zitko thinks it might even reduce bullying in real life. “By adding virtual reality to the mix, you could experience that first encounter online before you even venture out into the real world where all these potential risks and harms exist.”

Sociologist Bergstrom says a positive aspect of apps is that they contribute to sexual freedom
Sociologist Bergstrom says a positive aspect of apps is that they contribute to sexual freedomShutterstock

As virtual reality opens up new opportunities for developers and the number of users grows, dating apps tend to establish themselves as the “trusted place” to find sex and love. “My hypothesis is that dating platforms will become more and more important when dating couplessays Bergstrom, who wrote the book The New Laws of Love: Online Dating and the Privatization of Privacy.

“There was never a specific place to meet a partner. It now exists and is becoming less and less acceptable to approach sexually and romantically in other types of contexts. This is the case in workplaces. It used to be a major dating site, but now it’s less and less acceptable to be sexually intimate with co-workers.” He says.

For the expert, this can be extended to other contexts: “It would be less acceptable to approach someone in a bar and start flirting, or less acceptable to start flirting at a friend’s party, with the idea that there is a platform for it.

“As I said, it’s a hypothesis: We’d like to separate things more and more, and less and less things match. So there is a place to work, there is a place to go for sports, there is a place to meet friends and a place for dating. “Separation of social lifehe claims.

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