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Each person felt like a real possibility, rather than an abstraction.The first Tinder date I ever went on, in 2014, became a six-month relationship. In late 2014 and early 2015, I went on a handful of decent dates, some that led to more dates, some that didn’t—which is about what I feel it’s reasonable to expect from dating services.In 2016, dating apps are old news, just an increasingly normal way to look for love and sex. Of course, results can vary depending on what it is people want—to hook up or have casual sex, to date casually, or to date as a way of actively looking for a relationship.“I have had lots of luck hooking up, so if that’s the criteria I would say it’s certainly served its purpose,” says Brian, a 44-year-old gay man who works in fashion retail in New York City.The question is not if they work, because they obviously can, but how well do they work? “I have not had luck with dating or finding relationships.”“I think the way I’ve used it has made it a pretty good experience for the most part,” says Will Owen, a 24-year-old gay man who works at a marketing agency in New York City.When the apps were new, people were excited, and actively using them.Swiping “yes” on someone didn’t inspire the same excited queasiness that asking someone out in person does, but there was a fraction of that feeling when a match or a message popped up.The whole endeavor seems tired.“I’m going to project a really bleak theory on you,” Fetters says.“What if everyone who was going to find a happy relationship on a dating app already did?
And while no one is denying the existence of fuckboys, I hear far more complaints from people who are trying to find relationships, or looking to casually date, who just find that it’s not working, or that it’s much harder than they expected.“I think the whole selling point with dating apps is ‘Oh, it’s so easy to find someone,’ and now that I’ve tried it, I’ve realized that’s actually not the case at all,” says my friend Ashley Fetters, a 26-year-old straight woman who is an editor at The easiest way to meet people turns out to be a really labor-intensive and uncertain way of getting relationships.
I don’t believe hookup culture has infected our brains and turned us into soulless sex-hungry swipe monsters. It doesn’t do to pretend that dating in the app era hasn’t changed. Tinder arrived in 2012, and nipping at its heels came other imitators and twists on the format, like Hinge (connects you with friends of friends), Bumble (women have to message first), and others.
Older online dating sites like OKCupid now have apps as well.
I can feel myself half-assing it sometimes, for just this reason.
Larry Lawal, a 27-year-old straight male software developer in Atlanta, says he used to meet up with women from the apps for dinner or drinks several times a month, but now, “I don’t know, something happened [since] the earlier days,” he says.