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10 Weird Ways Tinder is Changing the World


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Facilitating Hookups
Has Tinder just become the singles bar of the digital age? monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto
Has Tinder just become the singles bar of the digital age? monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto

Tinder has a reputation as a hookup app (i.e. one used for finding casual sex partners). This reputation doesn't make the company happy, as was evidenced by a string of contrary Twitter comments in response to a 2015 Vanity Fair article entitled "Tinder and the Dawn of the 'Dating Apocalypse.'" The article includes tales of "Tinder Kings" who are adept at hooking up with scads of women, dubbed "Tinderellas," and of women saying that they find lots of matches wanting to hook up and few who want meaningful relationships.

The large number of potential matches served up with scant information might lend to that impression. Users have to slog through a lot of matches to find compatible people looking for the same things they are. There are stories of people finding serious partners through the app, and a survey conducted by Tinder suggested that 80 percent of users were looking for something more than a hookup [source: Carr]. But Tinder is a tool that will be used for whatever the individual users want, and they all want different things.

In 2014, researchers in the Netherlands surveyed Tinder users between 18 and 30 years old and identified six main reasons people were using the app: looking for love, looking for casual sex, meeting social communication needs, validating self-worth, seeking the thrill of excitement and following peer trends. The love motivation was reported more than casual sex, but men were more likely to use it for casual sex than women. And both love and casual sex were more often reported as motivations by older users [source: Sumter].

Despite stories of 20-somethings' hookup culture, there is evidence that "these kids today" don't have any more sex than previous generations. Two studies that compared data from the General Social Survey found that Millennials are having slightly less sex and slightly fewer sexual partners than previous generations after the Baby Boomers, although the study data ended the year Tinder began [sources: Dewey, Lehmiller, Singal].

There also may be regional differences. More women are graduating from college than men these days, and author Jon Birger sees a connection between the dating scene and the ratio of female to male college graduates in some areas. He states that people tend to date and marry others around their education level, points to studies showing that populations with more women than men tend to have more sex and fewer relationships, and compares a 33 percent marriage rate for young women in the 22 to 29 demographic in Silicon Valley (where female grads are outnumbered by their male counterparts) to a 13 percent rate in Manhattan (where the opposite is true) [sources: Birger, NCES, Uecker].