In the game of dating, Tinder is losing the love match


Our relationship with Tinder appears to be on the rocks. After a decade of helping out the lonely and the lusty, the love machine that fits into the palm of your hand is proving less popular. Its parent company Match Group (for those with a thing for redheads?) has reportedly taken a hit, plunging in value by almost 70 per cent as “investors fretted that the app was losing its mojo”.

Having just surpassed its 10th birthday last September, how has it taken this long? Tinder completely gamified dating. Swiping was fun – a constant stream of dopamine as you got matches, like playing Angry Birds with the added possibility of marriage and babies at the end. But as Allison P. Davis wrote, for many people, Tinder itself ended up being their longest relationship.

Right or left?Credit:iStock

When I first downloaded it, I was fascinated. Guys posing with snakes or holding fish or dogs. To me, this translated to “I am man. Man tame nature”. Apparently, in America, it’s all dead stags and wild boars, which probably says “I vote Republican”.

There were always available dates, all seemingly competent in water sports or skydiving. It was a social experiment with loads of data: what qualities does the entire male species feel are important to convey to the female (or male) species? (animal-taming, flexing in the bathroom mirror, photo in front of the Colosseum, likes a whisky).

Yes, no, no, yes, no, maybe … no, yes, no, no, NO!

You’d get ripper opening lines like “sup”, or, “what u doin?” making you wonder if romance wasn’t quite dead but maybe terminally ill. I got to the point where a guy wouldn’t get past “hello” if his texting was lazy. Sometimes I’d tell people to call straight up, which, for a Millennial, is on par with the kind of terrifying thrill you get from opening your MyGov inbox.

But it wasn’t just messages, sometimes the weirdness spilt over into dates. I once went out with a guy who was lamenting the fact that he couldn’t get a girlfriend. Over a series of G&Ts I turned into his dating coach: “You’ll meet someone, you’re a great guy!” I said giving him a punch on the arm, before fully registering how weird the whole scenario was.

There’s so much that can get lost in translation in online dating. There are the passive-aggressive profiles from people who had obviously been burnt: “NO TIME WASTERS”, the dry humour that doesn’t translate, and the assumptions based on someone’s profile. It makes it feel all the more miraculous if you do meet and connect with someone after overcoming the hurdles of online communication.

Traditional methods of meeting a mate, such as living in the same town where families know each other, have been disrupted by online dating. It’s lovely when you hear elderly couples talking about how they met at the local dance. I don’t imagine there was much scope to send pictures of body parts to each other in the good ol’ days (maybe sketches?).

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