The Effects of Dating and Hookup Apps on the Formation and Commitment to Relationships

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As of 2016, at least 15% of adults have used dating apps and 70% of same-sex couples met their partner online in the United States, which suggests that online dating is a becoming a predominant factor in relationship culture. This is due in large part to location-based mobile dating services, more commonly known as dating and hookup apps, which serve the purpose of connecting users to potential romantic or sexual partners. These apps, which became popularized within the last ten years, vastly changed the landscape of relationships and dating in a post-modern western society by acting as a matchmaker. Over the past several years, these apps became a sort of “social intermediary” by eliminating the necessity for human matchmakers such as friends and relatives.

The increased popularity of such platforms also led to the development of “hookup culture,” which promotes commitment-free, and sometimes even anonymous, sexual activity between partners who connect through these applications. Because of the influences of dating apps, such as the loss of matchmakers and the rise of hookup culture, the way that people, especially younger individuals, develop interpersonal relationships is change. Several concepts such as ghosting and being “friends with benefits” are rising in the popularity, symbolizing an evolution in how romantic and sexual relationships operate.

Emergence of Dating and Hookup Applications

To recognize the influence of dating applications on relationships, it is critical to understand how they fundamentally operate. Some examples of the most popular applications include Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, OkCupid and HUD. Tinder, the most well-known and used dating application, made its debut in 2012. The app features both a free version as well as a paid subscription; according to a recent Bloomberg News article, as of 2018, Tinder possesses over 3.7 million paid users.

The app, which consumers typically use to find partners for both dating and hookups, popularized the “swipe culture.” The swipe feature, now popular across multiple platforms, allows users to swipe left on a person they do not have interest in, and swipe right on someone they do. Tinder, like most dating apps, allows its subscribers to include pictures of themselves as well as a short bio.

Another leading dating application, Bumble, shares the same swipe features as Tinder but places an emphasis on female users by only allowing women to initiate conversation in heterosexual matches. Bumble also markets itself as a platform for business, networking and friendships, in addition to dating.

Released in 2009, Grindr became the first hookup and dating application geared toward gay and bisexual men. Like Tinder and other apps, it also offers a paid premium subscription service for its users.

An app marketed entirely for hookups, HUD’s offers free services to all users while promising a “swipe-free, commitment-free” opportunity. HUD also describes itself as female friendly, claiming that “Online dating can be intimidating, especially for women. That’s why we have implemented a bunch of features to improve the female user experience.” Out of the five apps mentioned,

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