The need for love is one of the most basic human needs, asis searching for the right partner. But how exactly do people find their partners? Online dating, as a form of social media, has become an increasingly popular tool in recent years to search for a suitable mate or a sexual partner. This happened first via dating websites primarily used on a computer, but since 2008 also via dating apps that can be used with a smart phone (Finkel, Eastwick, Karney, Reis, & Sprecher, 2012). In 2018, about 41% of single internet users worldwide were using dating services, dating websites or dating apps (the term used interchangeably for the purposes of this study), and the number of dating platforms increased globally by 17% within 2 years (Internet security systems, 2016; Paisley, 2018).
One of the most famous dating apps used is an app called Tinder
One of the most famous dating apps used is an app called Tinder. On Tinder, profile pictures are shown to users and they can decide if they want to “swipe right”,indicating that they like the profile,or “swipe left”,indicating that they do not like the profile. If two users like each other’s profiles, it will be indicated as a “match” and a conversation can begin (Newall, 2015; Smith, 2015). One of Tinder’s biggest competitors is Bumble. Bumble’s design is similar to Tinder and other dating apps in terms of indicating interest by swiping to the right and rejecting it by swiping to the left. If two users show an interest in each other’s profile, a “match” isachieved. Unlike other dating apps, Bumble focuses on being feministic by giving control to women.
After a match is achieved, the femalepartnerhas 24 hours to start a conversation with the male partner. If this does not happen, the match disappears (Bivens & Hoque, 2018). Other popular dating apps that have a similardesign to Tinder or Bumble are, for example, “Lovoo” and “Badoo”. “OkCupid” additionally includesa matching algorithm that matches users based on their answers to some questions and demographic information, such as age, gender, sexual orientation or location, and “Grindr”was created for gay, and bisexual men (Kelly, 2017). Aretz, Gansen-Ammann, Mierke, and Musiol (2017) divided online dating apps intofive categories:
(1) Online personal advertisement, where user profiles are published in an online catalogue, in which a potential partner can search;
(2) Online dating agency, where users are suggested based on similarities in personality tests;
(3) Adult-dating/ casual-dating, where users are suggested based on their sexual preferences and orientation;
(4)Niche providers, which are specialised on specific target groups;and the most common form,
(5) Social dating, which is used primarily via smart phones and often includes GPS-based dating services, where users can make contacts in their immediate surroundings. The last category includes apps such as Tinder
It is hardly surprising that online dating websites are becoming more and more popular. The unprecedented level of access to potential partners offers people an easier and faster way to find a potential new partner than in real-life. This is especially true for people with special needs, a non-heterosexual sexual orientation, or an atypical lifestyle (Döring, 2009; Finkel et al., 2012). The instantaneous communication via computer allows the users to get to know the potential date without being in the same location,and without much risk or time investment (Finkel et al., 2012).The communication is always between two people, with the exchanged messages not viewable by any other user.
This enables users to have alevel ofprivacy thats eldom exists in real-life interactions, where outsiders such as friends, family or strangers are always somewhat involved (Masden& Edwards, 2015). Another advantage of online dating isthe possibility to present oneself in the best possible light, and change personal information to one’s advantage to increase the chances of finding apotential partner (Jacobson, Atkinson, Mohamed, & Dorr, 2016). This can include giving in correct information about oneself in the description or in direct chat conversations, for example regarding their hobby or income level, or enhancing the photos used in the profile because an attractive photo usually receives more attention (Lo, Hsieh,& Chiu, 2013).