For those of us who have never swiped right before, Tinder’s reputation might make it sound like dating app culture is just one big sex party that you’re not invited to. But if you pressed your nose up to the glass, you’d soon realise that it’s nothing more than a few people eating party rings and checking their phones for more matches.
See, a new study suggests that people on Tinder aren’t having more sex than the average single person. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology were keen to find out how picture-based dating apps like Tinder and Bumble are really used by the public. Using questionnaires to survey the sexual habits and app use of 641 university students between the ages of 18 and 29, they determined that users are interested in short-term, casual, sex-based relationships – but no one is actually having them.
According to the study, participants who used dating apps were likely to have higher levels of ‘sociosexual orientation’ – basically, a greater interest in casual sex – than their non-app using counterparts. However, they didn’t actually have more sexual partners. So, despite the ease of using a dating app, they might not make your changes of securing a hook-up any easier than trying your luck IRL at a bar.
And, despite wanting a one-night-stand, both men and women said the main reason they use dating apps is purely for entertainment when they have nothing else to do. How sexy…
Boredom aside (what else are you going to do when the bus is late?), it seems men and women differ when it comes to why they spend their time swiping. Men said they use Tinder or similar apps to find casual sex and short-term relationships (although they do look for long-term partners on Tinder too, but to a lesser extent). Women, on the other hand, are more likely to use dating apps for confirmation that they’re attractive, using matches to feel good about themselves.
The study also found that women who do go online to meet people don’t necessarily use dating apps to find dates either. In many cases, they’re looking for companionship, whether in the form of friendship or a long-term partner – often signified by the words ‘No hook-ups’ in their Tinder profiles. It’s likely for this season that women are more discerning, and will take time to consider each potential date, whereas men are more swipe-right happy, talking to far more matches in the same amount of time and making quicker decisions on whether they’re interested.
But if you imagined that joining a dating app as a heterosexual woman would be like drowning in a sea of dick pics without a lifeboat, that’s not always the case. As former-Debrief Deputy Editor Vicky Spratt once said of her first foray into online dating: “What I found was surprising. Far from being propositioned repeatedly or meeting guys who were trying to lure me into bed so they could have their way and never call me again, I found myself having multiple wholesome WhatsApp conversations with guys who told me about their jobs, book, film and music preferences and asked, at length, about mine. This would go on for days on end before any of them even asked me if I was up for meeting them in person.”
And this can’t come as a massive shock – recent research has already suggested that young people are having less sex than generations before them, with one in eight millennials still virgins at 26-years-old. So whether it’s a confidence boost, a boyfriend or a quick hook-up – if you can’t find what you’re swiping for, there’s some comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your struggle. And if you’ve so far abstained from the digital dating scene, but still not having as much sex as you’d like, it’s strangely gratifying to discover that the grass isn’t greener on the other side.
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