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Swipe Left: Dating Apps Have Killed Romance

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Every day millions of people turn to dating apps to find love. To date, more than 49 million Americans have given digital dating a try and the companies facilitating these matches are raking in billions. But are dating apps really designed to promote long-lasting romance? Apps like Tinder and Bumble make finding a date as easy as swiping right, while digital platforms like and OkCupid use specialized algorithms to help users find the perfect partner, regardless of age or personal preferences. Further, a range of niche sites connect people with highly specific interests, whether it’s single parenthood, a gluten-free lifestyle, or a devotion to Ayn Rand. But some argue that online dating is rife with sexism, racism, and misogyny, and that dating apps ultimately create a culture that prioritizes sex over committed and lasting love. After all, why settle on one match when there may be someone better just a swipe away? 

Q&A with Daniel Jones

“The [Modern Love] submissions are a time capsule of what’s happening in relationships and how they’re changing.” 

Friday, January 17, 2014
Kat Stoeffel

“It’s hard; I mean love has always been hard, but we have so many tools now to put up walls and it’s ironic because while the tools are about being able to communicate, they can also serve as this sort of shield between you and your true self.”

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Ioana Casapu

“Preconceived notions about romantic compatibility can box you in.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

“It has been remarkable to watch the evolution in stories I have received from gay and lesbian writers.” 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Daniel Jones lets us know the four things he’s learned about love from editing the “Modern Love” column.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Adriana Delgado

Jones discusses the “Modern Love” column and his book, Love Illuminated: Exploring Life's Most Mystifying Subject (With the Help of 50,000 Strangers).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jones discusses “Modern Love” in the digital era.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column, edited by Daniel Jones

Thursday, January 25, 2018

“One thing is certain: the tenacity with which human beings will seek each other out with any tool available is inspiring.”

Sunday, February 14, 2016
Susie Lee

“It was, of course, inevitable that the activities involved in online dating would migrate from desktop and laptop computers to mobile devices.”

Friday, February 14, 2014
Jeff Bercovici

The pros and cons of several dating apps – including, Tinder, eHarmony, PlentyofFish, Happn, Bumble and OkCupid – are highlighted.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Dan Hackett

“In the 18 months [Andrew] Conru ran the site, he said there were 120,000 sign ups.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Nadja Sayej

An important glossary for those swiping left and right in 2018.

Sunday, January 7, 2018
Laura Roman, Ashley Brown & Alyssa Edes
For The Motion

“There’s another reason Web-enabled singles are rendering traditional dates obsolete. If the purpose of the first date was to learn about someone’s background, education, politics and cultural tastes, Google and Facebook have taken care of that.”

Friday, January 11, 2013
Alex Williams

“Dating apps do not seem like an efficient way to produce relationships. They are an efficient way to move through your options.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Julie Beck

"Online dating creates a shopping mentality, and that is probably not a particularly good way to go about choosing a mate."

Monday, February 6, 2012
Amanda Gardner

“The problem with a lot of online dating applications is that they don’t really work. Many are just ‘fad’ applications that squeeze money from punters with no intention of matching you with a suitable partner.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Ryan Anderson

“There's a scientific reason that modern dating can feel so exasperating. We have so many choices that we can't feel satisfied about our choices — or choose at all.”

Friday, January 23, 2015
Ellie Krupnick

The rise in STDs is linked to the rise in dating apps, and “many of the major dating networks don’t want to be involved in STD prevention, nor have they acknowledged the impact they’re having on public health.”

Monday, November 13, 2017
Julia Belluz
Against The Motion

“If you look at the couples who stay together, about half of the couples who meet through online dating have transitioned to marriage by year four of the relationship. If you look at people who didn’t meet through online dating, the time frame is much longer — half of those couples transition to marriage by year 10 of the relationship.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Roberto A. Ferdman

“Before online dating, meeting someone outside your social circle or local community was a challenge. The majority of couples had met in their young years either at school or at a local event for their communities.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

“Our model predicts that, on average, marriages created when online dating becomes available last longer than those created in societies without this technology.”

Saturday, October 21, 2017
Kari Paul

“In the digital age, technology isn't killing courtship. But for many young couples, it's redefining what romance looks like.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Breeanna Hare
The Business of Love

“Online dating is a big market. Here in the U.S., the industry generates approximately $2 billion in revenue each year and expanded at an annual rate of 5% between 2010 and 2015.”

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Mary-Lynn Cesar

“In terms of revenue, the online-dating industry has matured, but there are too many players and not a lot are generating sufficient revenue for these sites.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Georgia Wells

“But now everyone wants a piece of the matchmaking pie, with over 1500 online dating sites competing in the USA alone.”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Siofra M
Polls & Stats

“5% of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship say they met their significant other online.”

Monday, February 29, 2016
Aaron Smith & Monica Anderson

“Usage by 18- to 24-year-olds has increased nearly threefold since 2013, while usage by 55- to 64-year-olds has doubled.”

Thursday, February 11, 2016
Aaron Smith

“Tinder says 80% of its users ‘are seeking a meaningful relationship,’ which results in 1.5 million dates each week.”

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Jennifer Calfas

Match CEO Sam Yagan argues, “I would say the larger the pool you have to select from, the more likely you are to find the most compatible person for you, if you have the right algorithms working on your behalf.”

Monday, June 15, 2015
Lisa Mullins & Sam Yagan

“The research suggests that so-called ‘matching algorithms’ are only negligibly better at matching people than random chance.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Caitlin Dewey
Race, Gender & Dating Apps

“Offenders have adapted to the parameters and conventions of online dating: The NCA report notes that online dating has ‘produced a new type of sexual offender’ who is less likely to have prior criminal convictions. Instead, these offenders ‘exploit the ease of access and arm-chair approach to dating websites.’"

Monday, February 8, 2016
Lauren Oyler

“The fact is, though, that while it’s convenient to blame technology we don’t fully understand for misogynistic and predatory behaviour, these apps are quite simply new platforms for very old attitudes.”

Friday, April 8, 2016
Eve Livingston

“While some dating apps have developed something of a negative reputation for their emphasis on no strings attached sexual encounters, it’s not quite so black and white.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Eliel Cruz

OK Cupid co-founder Christian Rudder argues, “Black users, especially, there's a bias against them. Every kind of way you can measure their success on a site — how people rate them, how often they reply to their messages, how many messages they get — that's all reduced.”

Sunday, September 27, 2015
Carrie Weisman

“According to data from the dating site OkCupid, 82 percent of non-black men on the site have some bias against black women, and of the men on the site, Asian men receive the fewest messages.”

Saturday, July 16, 2016
Priya Rao

"While investigating sexual racism, Jessica Williams and Ronny Chieng learn about discrimination against black women and Asian men."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
User Experience

“So where is this all going to go? What happens after you’ve come of age in the age of Tinder? Will people ever be satisfied with a sexual or even emotional commitment to one person? And does that matter? Can men and women ever find true intimacy in a world where communication is mediated by screens; or trust, when they know their partner has an array of other, easily accessible options?”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Nancy Jo Sales

“I despise swiping, mostly because of that subtle feeling in the pit of my stomach I get every time I make a ‘decision’ about compatibility.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Erica Berger

“Today, online dating is the second most common way for heterosexual couples to meet. For homosexual couples, it is far and away the most popular.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Emerging Technology from the arXiv
Niche Dating Sites

Don’t worry, there are dating sites for clowns, farmers, goths and golfers. 

Monday, February 4, 2013
Sean Curry

“All these niche dating sites are taking their toll on Match’s portfolio, which includes Tinder, Plenty of Fish, How About We and OkCupid.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Megan Brame

"There is, of course, nothing wrong with dating someone who checks the same boxes as you do. But by drastically reducing the pool of potential matches, you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re ruining online dating for those of us who want to keep our options open."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Elise Craig
International Perspective

“In rapidly developing India, the process of finding love is in the midst of a revolution. Spurred by apps such as Tinder, Woo and TrulyMadly, the old tradition of arranged marriage is giving way to a new, westernised style of dating, where growing numbers of people are choosing to date for fun, without the end goal of marriage.”

Sunday, July 10, 2016
Vidhi Doshi

“Jiayuan and Baihe, China’s most popular dating sites, had around 126 million and 85 million registered users in 2015 respectively (Tinder had about 50 million active users in 2014). In contrast to a slew of popular dating apps in the West that are commonly associated with a casual ‘hook-up’ dating culture, Chinese online dating services are typically used by those in search of lasting connections and relationships — although this gradually may be changing.”

Monday, July 17, 2017
The Future of Online Dating

Sean Rad stated that daters “could use augmented reality to send out virtual coloured signals to strangers walking past them on the street. This would allow you to know their relationship status without so much as talking to them.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Daisy Dunne

“When someone swabs their cheek with a Pheramor kit, the lab Mirza and Barreto work with isolates and scans 11 genes, which scientists have linked to factors for attraction.”

Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Maggie Gordon

“Whatever you think about online dating, one thing’s for sure, as the older generation embraces it, the business will only get bigger!”

Thursday, June 1, 2017
Megan Brame