Atlantic Feature Considers Dating from 2013-19

A new column from Ashley Fetters in The Atlantic considers how the dating landscape has changed over the past five years.

It is titled “The 5 Years That Changed Dating”, and captioned “When Tinder became available to all smartphone users in 2013, it ushered in a new era in the history of romance.”

The article opens by outlining some of the positives and negatives associated with online dating. Apps have expanded social circles and introduced couples who might never have met otherwise, but this disconnectedness can create a “context vacuum” for a first date.

Having complete strangers communicate may also cause more rude behaviour, as there is less of an incentive to act courteously if there is no reputational cost to behaving badly.

Academic work on dating apps is considered, namely a sociology dissertation from Harvard alumnus Holly Wood. Wood found that many male interview respondents were using dating apps to replace in-person courtship.

The article then takes a nuanced approach to many of the tropes that surround online dating, such as the ‘paradox of choice’ supposedly making it more difficult to find a partner.

Psychology Professor Eli Finkel challenges the notion, arguing that once someone finds a date they really like there is strong evidence to suggest they lose interest in browsing. He quotes a line from a 1997 study: “Even if the grass is greener elsewhere, happy gardeners may not notice.”

The piece also considers how online dating has impacted LGBTQ communities, and the extent to which meeting someone online has been normalised.

Find the article here.