New research from University of Sydney, published in the Journal of Sociology this week, shows that the sleazy, ‘fast love’ reputation of popular online applications like Tinder and Grindr is greatly exaggerated.
The study examined the online dating habits of 365 people, mostly aged below 30, and found almost three quarters of users were just as inclined to seek a monogamous relationship after taking their search for love online.
More than half of the study’s participants claimed they used the apps to find dates but only a quarter of respondents reported using the apps for purely sexual encounters.
“These are significant findings that undermine the ‘Tinder is tearing society apart’ thesis…, as many individuals are using the technology with the intention of finding a long-term partner,” the study reads.
Fourteen per cent of the study’s participants said they were more inclined to seek out monogamy, once using the technologies, while another 14 per cent said they were less inclined to stay with one partner after discovering the dating apps.
“These are significant findings that undermine the ‘Tinder is tearing society apart’ thesis…, as many individuals are using the technology with the intention of finding a long-term partner.”
The study’s lead author, Dr Mitchell Hobbs from the University’s Department of Media and Communications, says the research showed the negative hype surrounding dating apps bringing about the end of romance was wrong.
“Most people are not using the technology merely for increased sexual promiscuity, but are in fact seeking to find a potential longer-term partner,” says Dr Hobbs.
“Dating apps are also making it easier for people to meet like-minded individuals. This is especially important for individuals who don’t have the time, or the inclination, to meet people in sites of traditional matchmaking, such as bars and clubs.”
The research showed Tinder was by far the most popular application with 84 per cent of respondents having used it, followed by OKCupid at 30 per cent.
It also explored why people used the apps, with users saying they enjoyed the convenience of connecting with a large group of people at once and the efficiency of the technology, as people were less likely to waste others’ time.
Others reported they enjoyed the sense of control they had over their dating lives, and the ability to get to know someone prior to meeting them.
“The technology thrives because it is useful, and will die when it no longer offers pathways to connect and communicate that are advantageous to users."
However, the study also found the apps encouraged a small number to look outside their relationships.
“Of those survey respondents who indicated that they were in a relationship, 10 per cent said that they had used the technology to engage in a sexual affair, with a subsequent question revealing that most felt that they would not have ‘cheated’ on their partners had the apps not made it so easy to do so,” Dr Hobbs says.
Ultimately, while almost two thirds of the survey respondents said they would prefer to find love via a traditional face-to-face encounter.
Many believed that technology was increasingly being seen as a “legitimate” means of meeting a partner, a point Dr Hobbs agrees with.
“The social stigma that was once associated with online forms of dating is also breaking down, as more people embrace the technology.
“The technology thrives because it is useful, and will die when it no longer offers pathways to connect and communicate that are advantageous to users.
“Remembering this is important as dating apps provide merely the potential to facilitate real-life sexual and romantic encounters.”