As a matchmaker, I spend my days talking to single folks on behalf of my clients, located all over the United States. Often in those conversations, I encounter people who rely on Tinder to meet other singles, but find their dating life unfulfilling or even depressing.
“Everyone on here is only interested in texting!” “No one actually ever wants to meet up!” One man told me he broke up with the last woman he dated because she didn’t want to stop swiping and keeping her “options open.”
Tinder works well for meeting a bunch of different people. Every time you open the app you see a new crop of fresh faces on an interface that encourages you to swipe. And yet, growing research indicates that repeated “swiping” over time increases anxiety and depression, damages self-esteem, and lowers confidence. These are the very same qualities that can prohibit people from finding the healthy and supportive relationship they deserve.
The rapid response nature of Tinder and other dating apps make people feel like they are succeeding in their dating life when they match with someone, but split-second gratification doesn’t actually serve a relationship long-term.
“Dating apps make users impatient, because they feel like they don’t connect with anyone,” says matchmaker Cora Boyd, who works with me at the dating start up Tawkify. “But they also aren’t taking the time or putting in the investment to actually connect.”
Tinder gets its users to keep coming back by replicating the same neurobiological mechanisms as a slot machine. When you swipe right on someone and its a match, the onscreen notification provides a small rush of dopamine that fades as quickly as it came, leaving you wanting more.
“Love is about taking that ‘feel good’ and making it a long term high that lasts even when you’re boring stuff together,” says former Tinder user Lori. “That’s what makes love so special.”
To develop that long term happy high in a relationship takes time and mutual investment. It requires people to be invested in learning their needs and the needs of the person they are seeing. It also requires a certain degree of bravery to overcome obstacles that arise when you’re becoming intimately entwined with another person. These human nuances could never be accommodated by an algorithm or an app — and in fact, Tinder takes away much of their beauty.
“A digital system based on instant gratification has dissolved the virtue of patience — a critical element of seduction and successful courtship,” says my matchmaking colleague Alyssa Bunn.
Working with a matchmaker encourages patience by providing clients with emotional support while they seek a long-term partnership.
“Not only do we give you human connection, we are your human connection,” says Alyssa. “We’re your personal coach, helping you navigate the uncharted waters of modern dating, and, perhaps, your next best friend.”
Matchmaker Cora adds that going through a matchmaker also filters out people who aren’t going to have the capacity to nurture a real life human connection.
“Dating with a matchmaker actually requires you to invest time, energy, excitement, and curiosity in a connection,” says Cora. “Which gives the connection a better chance of actually developing into something long term.”
The neurobiological mechanisms that Tinder uses to keep you swiping feeds primal competitive instincts. The app works well at leading users to believe they are maximizing their desirability and dating potential the more matches they get.
28-year-old Tinder user Sam says that they have felt as though the app“hijacks” their brain’s reward cycles, rerouting them to a dead end.
“I think Tinder gamifies the experience of crushing and desire in a way that is pervasive and finds its way into non-Tinder interactions, placing these dates onto a template where you compare one connection to another,” they say, adding that they have found the app more useful for finding and prioritizing friendships than dating.
Tawkify matchmaker Remy Boyd says that when it comes down to it, dating is a numbers game — but Tinder isn’t helping users win at it.
“The more dates people go on that are curated towards their wants and desires in a mate, the closer they are to reaching their ultimate goal of finding a long term relationship,” says Remy.
Clients have told me that when using the Tinder app for themselves, they find they are their own worst enemy. They report feeling drawn to people who replicate old relationship patterns that have kept them unhappy and unsatisfied in their love life.
“[On Tinder] the likelihood of being treated and treating others as one-use or no-use experiences is through the roof,” says Tinder user Katie, 28.
As matchmakers, we work with clients and hold them accountable to what they are seeking, filtering out matches who would repeat old, outgrown patterns of heartbreak and rejection. This empowers our clients.
“The matchmaking process helps love seekers be decisive and in control daters who actively go after what they want and get results!” says matchmaker Remy.
Dating creates anxiety. Everyone experiences fear of rejection and social anxiety from time to time, but these fears also bring out the worst in us. Dating through a phone screen makes it easy to hide from these fears by “ghosting” rather than facing them head on.
“All the anxieties associated with traditional dating like meeting a stranger, claiming your interest, and facing rejection are curtailed with Tinder,” says matchmaker Alyssa.
She says that the one-dimensional experience sucks the life out of dating because it’s strictly visual. But knowing whether you are actually attracted to someone requires you to tap into all of your senses.
“If you want to window shop, go to Tinder. It’s strictly visual. If you want to play with your other senses — to see, feel, touch, and have a human experience — go to a Matchmaker,” says Alyssa.
Interested in working with a matchmaker? I’m always looking for quality folks to set up on complimentary dates with my clients. Fill out a free profile to work with me here.