Despite predictions that dating apps would reduce relationships to casual commodities, researchers from the University of Geneva discovered that these digital matchmaking tools actually facilitate the formation of more diverse couples compared to individuals who meet through offline networks.
Love triumphs over the challenges of the dating apps scene
According to the lead author, Gina Potarca, a researcher at the Institute of Demography and Socioeconomics at the University of Geneva, the internet is undergoing a profound transformation in the way people meet. In a statement accompanying the study, Potarca explained that it offers an unprecedented abundance of meeting opportunities with minimal effort and without the need for third-party intervention.
Potarca also addressed the prevalent claims, based on anecdotes, that dating apps would lead to a ‘dating apocalypse’ and reduce singles to being mere ‘sexual freelancers’. She emphasized that a large portion of the media asserts that these apps have a negative impact on relationship quality by preventing individuals from investing in exclusive or long-term commitments. However, as of now, there is no evidence to substantiate these claims.
The findings, which were published in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, focused on a specific group of participants selected from Switzerland’s 2018 Family and Generations Survey of Individuals. Out of the 3,245 respondents examined, 104 individuals met their partner through a dating app, 264 used dating websites, and 125 utilized other online services for meeting potential partners.
Despite Switzerland being known for its traditional family ideology and the prevalent dominance of marriage as the preferred family model, the country has consistently reported an annual divorce rate of 40% over the past two decades.
Although a majority of the couples included in the survey met through mutual friends, there has been a notable increase in the number of people who met their partners online. Based on data from Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office, online meetings constituted a quarter of the survey participants in 2018, making it the second most prevalent method of meeting a partner. Among the various online platforms, dating apps emerged as the most popular way for singles to connect.
It is important to note that the study specifically focused on heterosexual couples due to legal restrictions on same-sex marriage in Switzerland, resulting in a narrower scope of analysis concerning the marital market dynamics within the country.
The difference between using dating websites and dating apps
In addition to differentiating between offline and online meetings, the study also categorizes couples based on whether they met through dating apps such as Tinder or Grindr, or through dating websites like Match or OKCupid. Dating websites employ extensive questionnaires and personality quizzes to form matches based on compatibility. On the other hand, dating apps are designed to provide users with a quick browsing experience, allowing them to swiftly explore their options, making them suitable for individuals with limited free time.
According to the study authors, users of dating apps are significantly more likely than singles who do not use the internet for partner search to express feelings of exhaustion after work, hindering them from engaging in activities they desire.
The survey yielded interesting findings regarding the characteristics of couples based on how they met. Couples who met through educational institutions, workplaces, or mutual friends were more prone to sharing similar educational backgrounds and social backgrounds in comparison to couples who met online.
Among the online meeting methods, couples who connected through dating apps exhibited the highest likelihood of having disparate education levels, with women in particular choosing partners with lower educational attainment. Furthermore, these couples were also more inclined to engage in long-distance relationships, often involving a significant geographical distance of about an hour between them.
Moreover, the study revealed that women who utilized dating apps were more driven by a desire to start a family compared to women who met their partners through offline means.
The satisfaction of the couples who met online
Couples who connected through dating websites expressed higher relationship satisfaction compared to couples who met through offline means, and dating websites appeared to foster slightly more contented couples than dating apps.
However, the study emphasizes that in the long run, how couples initially met holds little significance. Overall, there were no notable differences in relationship satisfaction and overall life satisfaction between couples who initiated their relationships through dating apps and those who met through other means.
Dating apps don’t destroy love conclusion
The findings of this study have the potential to alleviate some of the societal stigma associated with the use of online dating platforms.
Considering the increased popularity of dating apps, particularly during periods of lockdown and social distancing, it is comforting to debunk apprehensions regarding the potential negative impacts of utilizing these tools for love in the long run, as noted by Potarca.