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Love in the Time of Dating Apps

Elissa Sanci

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At one point in time, online dating was seen as a last ditch effort only utilized by the lonely and desperate. Now, as we sit on the cusp of 2016, we can get anything essential online—clothes, food, and, most notably, a date.

Internet dating has been gaining popularity since the first dating site, Match.com, was launched in 1995. At the time of its creation, online dating was regarded warily, a service that only those who were desperate for companionship used. However, after garnering public acceptance with the Tom Hanks film You’ve Got Mail in 1998, online dating sites began to get heavier foot traffic, and now, more than one third of U.S. marriages begin with online dating, according to a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted in 2013.

It’s become more and more common to meet a significant other, or even a hookup, through dating websites and, more recently, dating apps. Most popular among the millennial crowd is Tinder, an app created in 2011, which gained half a million users in 2013 after marketing to the college crowd. According to Dating Site Reviews, 1.5 million in-person dates stem from Tinder each week; more than half of those make it to a second date.

Given this information, it’d be interesting to see why anyone wouldn’t be in full support of this new wave of dating, especially on college campuses. Dating apps give those who suffer from social anxiety the same chance as those social butterflies to find love—or at least a decent hookup. Using an app to find a potential date on campus is a good way to figure out who’s eligible; if nothing else, it’s a good way to meet new people and make new friends.

Dating apps force you to go outside of your comfort zone while simultaneously allowing you to keep your guard up for as long as you want.  Approaching someone you find attractive can, arguably, be the most nerve-wracking aspect of dating. Through a dating app, this part can be done with a swipe to the right and a simple message. You don’t have to worry if the person you’re messaging is interested in you—the fact that you matched up in the first place is the first indicator that, barring any personality conflicts, the two of you are at least mildly interested in each other in a non-platonic way.

The best part about these dating apps is that, if after a few days spent talking through text, you decide you don’t feel particularly comfortable meeting in person, you don’t have to. You always have the choice to say no, and no is always a complete sentence; you don’t have to offer an explanation to why you chose not to meet up for coffee.

Most importantly, dating apps feed into how lazy we are. We want love—or sex—and we want it now! So rather than heading to the bar where you’ll have to down four shots before working up the nerve to talk to guy in the white shirt, you can do so from the comfort of your own bed as you eat pizza and watch Netflix.

Of course, using dating apps on campus does have the potential to put you in a possibly awkward position; at any given moment, you can bump into a person you’ve swiped right on but haven’t yet spoken to. If he catches your eye, prepare for a few moments of timidly smiling and playing with your hair as you hope he thinks you look even prettier in person that you do in the pictures you painstakingly made a pro and con list to choose.  Even worse, there’s the possibility of bumping into the guy or girl you did start talking to, but promptly blocked after he or she started spewing sexually suggestive comments that you were less than comfortable with. Expect a few shuffling moments where eye contacted is averted as you reach around him to grab a packet of Splenda—because god forbid you ask him to pass it to you.

Safety is always a factor to consider when meeting someone for the first time, especially a person you met through an app. Meeting someone from a dating app who goes to your university has its perks: it allows you to ask around about this person, find out some more information about him or her, and see if some of the identifying information she or he listed on the app lines up. Of course, if you are planning to meet someone you met on a dating app, be smart about it. Meet him in a public place, and make sure your friends know where you’re going. The chances of anything happen are slim, and meeting someone new for the first time is exciting, especially when you’re not exactly sure how things will turn out. One date could lead to another, which can lead to another—but through the excitement, always make your well being a priority. Never let the prospect of something great overshadow the importance of keeping yourself safe.

Despite the awkward encounters that dating apps pose, and those few and far between dangers, they prove to be more helpful than they do harmful. They are perfect for the shy and the socially awkward, and they allow their users to move at a pace that he or she is comfortable with.

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
Love in the Time of Dating Apps