Last updated on September 1, 2015 | by Aet Suvari0
What’s the point of Match and eHarmony in the Tinder era?
I recently read this Vanity Fair article about how Tinder and other ‘hook-up’ apps are potentially destroying dating culture. If you haven’t read it, let me warn you: it’s a long article and if you don’t want to read a horror story that destroys your belief in mankind and the possibility of love, I can give you a short and censored summary: Basically what is going on around us with Tinder, Happn, Hinge, OKCupid and other similar dating apps, is the Dating Apocalypse – millions of people using their phones as handheld singles clubs, only looking to gorge more and more sex partners, not caring about commitment, connection or sometimes even just polite manners.
Sure, the article referred to deals only with high-powered successful 20 and 30-somethings in fabulous places like Manhattan and Malibu. But come to think of it, why should it be any different in London or Edinburgh? Aren’t we all facing the same cultural trends?
The end of traditional dating?
And then it got me thinking some more. If everything described in the article is really true – or at least illustrating a growing trend – then what’s the point of good old-fashioned online dating? Compared to Tinder it’s clumsy, time-consuming and expensive – why should you keep using it? What has Match with its eternally long profiles and eHarmony with its controlled communication got on Tinder? And if you’re one of the members who has signed up and paid up in hope of finding a date, a partner, a husband/wife or your true love – is there in fact any hope of that happening?
Perhaps unsurprisingly – seeing we’re called Online Dating Help, we say there’s help to be found. Dating is not dead yet and even if the trends are shifting, five years of hook-up apps cannot sweep thousands of years of cultural tradition (because that’s what a marriage essentially is) under the carpet just like that. Not to speak of love! It would be a very sad world indeed where a hook-up app could erode something so inherently human as love.
There are many reasons why you should consider Match, eHarmony or some other traditional dating site as opposed to the ‘free and easy’ Tinder. First of all – and even the main characters in the abovementioned article acknowledge this – things that are free (or cheap) aren’t necessarily always good. The less amount of effort, energy, dedication and money you have to invest, the less you’re bound to get back. Nobody is living under the illusion that the sheer abundance of choice in Tinder necessarily leads to better relationships – or even better sex if it comes to that! Making a little bit of effort in achieving your goal can be so much more rewarding and exhilarating.
The long game
Secondly – and this really is a no-brainer – but if you actually belong to that category of people who still DO want to date instead of just hooking up, you might find all these apps frustrating and time-consuming. Much more so than dating sites. Collecting dates (or more like one-night stands) and drowning in the over-abundance of choice might sound fun and glamorous but even if it really was that, it’s certainly not for everyone. Dating site statistics don’t show a significant drop in their user numbers – people are still looking for real love, real friendships, real sex. Fast food restaurants didn’t kill off home-cooking, gastropubs or gourmet restaurants!
Third, while certainly alluring, hook-up culture isn’t very sustainable. The characters speaking in the above mentioned article admit the same: after a while it becomes boring, it’s no longer exciting or even worth their while. That won’t necessarily mean the end of it but it almost certainly means that the user base is ever-changing – people do it for a while, then move on to something that is ultimately more rewarding and as they do, new young and eager users will take their places.
Sure, the question remains whether people who have spent a good few years hooking up with a different partner every week or even every night are able or even willing to form monogamous long-lasting partnerships in their lives (and as the recent Ashley Madison case shows these problems might be already more deep-rooted than we think) but perhaps the society will evolve at some point so as to accommodate their lifestyles as well as those with more traditional values.
Lessons from the Ashley Madison hack
Fourth, more about Ashley Madison. Without wanting to take a lofty moral high ground, the leakage and its repercussions show one thing clearly: people are very vulnerable when it comes to relationships, love and sex. They always will be. This type of sensitive information could not only ruin their personal lives but can – and in many cases will – leave a stain on their careers as well. Which is another reason why traditional online dating sites will always be more reputable and respectable. Even if there are leakages, there will be nothing shameful about having a profile on an online dating site (unless set up secretly while in a relationship). Can we say the same about – the very public – Tinder profiles? Of course, they can be completely and utterly innocent (as most of them, no doubt, ARE) but there will still be a certain amount of prejudice about them. Is it fair? Probably not. But as long as mainstream media portrays Tinder and other similar apps as ‘hook-up’ apps, this is not likely to change.
Last but not least – online dating sites and apps cater for a very wide audience. Almost every wish and need is covered, there are several large general sites and thousands of smaller niche-sites. Free apps like Tinder might actually help ‘clean’ the paid sites as they draw away customers who’re not really that interested in forging long-lasting exclusive relationships, so the chances are better that people on Match or eHarmony will actually get like-minded matches on these sites. A large variety and plethora of choice almost always makes the market better – not worse – so there’s really no need for too much concern over dating apps.