According to an article in The Economist, dating apps are one way to make the dating market more efficient. Though the idea isn’t very sexy, efficiency in any market, including shopping for partners, is a very good thing. Here are the advantages (and a disadvantage):
Apps expand the dating pool.
By attracting millions of users, apps grow the pond singles can fish in, allowing people to meet who otherwise might not have the chance. This is a very good thing because, at its core, dating really is just a numbers game – the more people you meet, the better your chance of finding a good fit.
But they don’t expand it too much.
At a certain point, dating pools that are too large actually make it less convenient to find a match when it becomes too time- or effort-intensive to sift through the options. App developers know this.
Tinder initially rose to success because the information displayed was so simple, making it quick and easy to browse: just name, age, location, and photos. As it has grown, Tinder has added features to help users cut through the noise, like revealing job and education information, as well as the “super like” feature, which allows a particularly keen user to express extra interest in someone once a day.
Apps reduce the relative cost of rejection.
Many dating sites only reveal a match if both parties express interest; no need to worry about a creepy or vindictive guy following you home from the bar. Getting rejected online also doesn’t feel as personal as getting turned down face to face, partially because expressing interest online only requires the amount of courage it takes to click a button.
However, this comes at a cost (mostly to women): the same way that getting rejected online doesn’t sting as much, online dating also makes it easier to dehumanize or objectify others, which leads some users to behave in ways they might not otherwise.
Apps can help you use the criteria that matter most to you.
Some research has shown that matches are most successful when both sides are ultra-transparent about what they’re looking for, and how dating markets can play a role in that. For people looking to tap into a very narrow pool, dating sites can help you find like-minded prospective partners.
Whole sites can be geared around a single criterion, like JDate for Jewish singles and Bumble for feminists. Even cat lovers, bikers, and people with food allergies have options to connect. Amazing!