Why dating apps are so appealing

Dating apps are popular for a good reason — they can be easy, straightforward and have many uses

To swipe right, or not to swipe right: that is the question. ASU students do not shy away from the opportunity to find a potential lover with just a tap of one’s finger. Dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Grindr are a few popular apps commonly found on the phone of a typical ASU student. 

As of today, Tinder is the 77th app on the top free apps chart, right behind Yelp. It may rank behind a lot of popular apps, but on the top-grossing chart, Tinder is ranked relatively high, proudly taking the number three spot. While dating apps such as Bumble, Match, Zoosk and POF Dating may not appear on the top-200 free chart, they rank in the top-50 grossing apps at the moment. 

People are downloading and using these apps, and college students, ASU students included, make up a sizable amount of the app's user base. 

“I started using Tinder as a joke, but now it’s just fun to talk to people on it,” undergraduate biological sciences freshman Ally Schulken said. "It’s nice to talk to people and find people to hang out with. I’ve met up with a few of the guys I have talked to on Tinder, but the first two guys weren’t great. The most recent guy I went out with is actually pretty cool and it went really well. We hangout together pretty often now.”

Jennifer Valli is a member of the Americans Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists and is a certified sex therapist. She's also a doctoral student in the behavioral health program at ASU. 

Valli said she believes that people love to feel desired, and when individuals get multiple “swipes right” or something equal to that, it has the ability to give someone the feeling of being wanted and justifies their self-worth. This may play an important factor in why people use these apps, she said.

“The feeling of being desired is very powerful, so people use these apps and they want the end result with potentially hooking up or meeting and going on a date because of that feeling. It trickles out throughout the whole process and is exciting to see who swiped right on you,” Valli said. 

Dating apps are a fun, easy way to find single people nearby but it could have some detrimental affects towards a person who feels anxiety towards approaching a potential significant other in person.

“In terms of social anxiety, people might turn towards the app because it can get away from the ‘walking up to them at a bar’ approach," Valli said. "But in some circumstances with mental health, if you have something you’re nervous about, people can continue to avoid that and reinforce the anxiety around it."

Valli also said that while dating apps seem like they would take away social anxiety, they actually reinforce anxious feelings. People with self-image issues may not feel comfortable having people decide if they want to talk to them simply by producing photos of themselves and adding a short bio.

“Some people are afraid that they won’t get any swipes right. Some people think that if they are in a room with a person, they can get the person to like them, but they think if people just see a photo of them, they won’t like them,” Valli said. 

While the idea of being judged solely based on a few pictures may be intimidating to some, to others it can be a major turn-on to using these apps.

Jakob Salazar, a sociology junior, said dating apps can give users more control than real life situations. 

“Dating apps like Tinder allow you control over who you see and who sees you," Salazar said. "The ability to remain anonymous while searching through potential matches, and to speak to your matches online before meeting with them, is less awkward and potentially distressing than meeting such people in person before you know them."

Specific apps can cater to individuals' specific interests and provide a community of interested singles with similar tastes and preferences. 

Astrophysics freshman Mal Carter identifies as bisexual and said dating apps make it easier to find other LGBTQ+ girls. 

“I mostly use dating apps like Tinder and HER to find other LGBT girls to date because people in the LGBT community use it as an actual dating app sometimes because it’s hard to find other gay people to date," Carter said. "I have also gone on a couple dates with guys since getting here. Whenever I’m bored, hungry and broke, I’ll find a random guy I match with and get him to take me out to lunch or dinner, and then I usually just unmatch afterwards. I’m beating the system.”

With lots of young singles in such close proximity to each other, dating apps work well near college campuses. 

“Tinder, Grindr and Bumble can be suited to any kind of relationship or rendezvous, but Tinder and Grindr especially are famous for facilitating hook-ups, especially among young people," Salazar said. "As college campuses host large numbers of young people, many of them far from marriage or yet uninterested in long-term relationships – it makes sense that hookup apps would be especially commonplace there."


Reach the reporter at jlmyer10@asu.edu or follow @jessiemy94 on Twitter. 

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