When you hear the word Tinder, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
If you said “hooking up” you’re certainly not alone, but of course there are plenty of people who’ve swiped their way to a soulmate and lived happily ever after, too. So which is it? And why does it even matter?
Well, new data out Wednesday from Tinder shows that kind of true love story may indeed be what the app’s users are really after. The dating powerhouse compiled the report, which it shared with the New York Times, based on two surveys it did comparing the app’s user base with a pool of people who aren’t dating online currently.
The first survey was done in the app and looked at more than 7,000 of Tinder’s millennial users. The second was done by an outside consulting firm and examined some 2,500 “offline daters,” which includes people who had never logged on to a dating app and those who had but weren’t using one anymore.
According to Jessica Carbino, Tinder’s in-house sociologist, the results reveal that Tinder’s pool of users were more interested in committed relationships than their offline counterparts. They were also better at conveying an “investment in prospective daters,” which basically means asking questions during the initial chat.
As far as those who are only dating offline, 30 percent of the men they surveyed said it was “challenging to commit.” But just nine percent of the men on Tinder, meanwhile, said they had a hard timing staying in a committed relationship. They ended up with similar numbers for women.
It’s easy enough, at first glance, to think this indicates that Tinder is the place to be for real relationships. And it’s reasonable to conclude that if you’ve taken the step of joining a dating app, Tinder or otherwise, you’re at least somewhat invested in meeting someone.
But the fact is this data — keeping in mind that no one outside of Tinder has actually seen all this data — is probably more revealing about the people who either stop dating online or have never started. What made them opt out of what is now one of the most efficient ways of finding dates?
There’s also the issue that this research was conducted by Tinder, which has a demonstrated history of wanting to move beyond the market for youthful hookups and appeal to a wider audience — including older daters who are looking for love. This could be another step in their battle to crush the idea that they’re turning us all into swipe-addicted sex fiends and to fend off apps like Bumble that tend to have a more wholesome reputation.
But the fact is that there’s all kinds of data that shows different people use Tinder for different things. College kids use it for entertainment more than finding people to date. Another study found it really wasn’t the best app to use if all you wanted was to get laid. Tinder is big enough now, with somewhere north of 50 million users, that it can kind of be all things to all people.
No matter what sort of narrative Tinder pushes, it is neither the singular spot to find your life partner nor is it destroying the souls of millennials and making them incapable of love. So, if you’re looking to settle down, feel free to swipe. And if you’re just looking for a night of fun, that’s fine too.