- My husband and I met on the popular dating app Tinder.
- Many people have misconceptions about online dating, from it being only for the socially inept to there being an extreme stigma around it.
- Despite the challenges it can present, online dating can be a really rewarding experience that can end in long-term commitment.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Six months ago, I woke up hungover in a queen-sized room at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City.
My eyes were swollen. My stomach felt sour. But, overall, I felt OK. I got more than eight hours of sleep, which isn’t something most people can say the night before they get married.
I sat on the bed watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” with an eye mask on, in hopes my dark circles would cease to exist. It was the Christmas card episode. Realising it was almost noon, I hopped in the shower, shaved my legs, and had my future sister-in-law glue fake eyelashes on me. My best friend, Eva, helped me mangle the boob tape into submission for about 30 minutes so I could shimmy into my pale pink, silk Reformation dress. Then, my husband-to-be Julian walked in, freshly barbered, cowboy-boot clad.
We called a Lyft at 2:15 pm. And as the driver looked back to say goodbye to us at our destination, his gaze turned perplexed. We understood why.
“We are getting married,” I said.
People don’t tell you that a courthouse wedding doesn’t take long. I think ours clocked in at about seven minutes.
People also don’t tell you that a date on Tinder could possibly turn into a marriage. Mine did. Though at first, it did seem improbable.
Trust me, I wasn’t a fan of dating apps when I was on them – the flakiness and phoniness, the vulnerability and unpredictability. And despite slogans like “Designed to be deleted,” it’s more likely you will delete the app out of utter frustration than actually find someone with it.
Outside of the hookup-culture fog, I can understand why some people are sceptical. I once was, too.
But I am here to tell you this: You may be looking at it all wrong. Online dating is not some fringe concept like it was in the late ’90s and early aughts. It’s not just for young people. And it is not just for the romantically helpless and “desperate.”
But it is also not a means to an end.
With that in mind, here are the four biggest things people get wrong about online dating.
The stigma around meeting people online is basically ancient history — even for Tinder.
There’s an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” where Ted, one of the main characters, meets a girl online. She’s embarrassed by it, and instead tells a fake story about how their “hands touched” in a cooking class, even though Ted assures her “there’s no stigma anymore.”
Things don’t work out with Blahblah (the name future-Ted gives her since he can’t remember her name), and she tells Ted never to chat with her on World of Warcraft again.
The episode aired in 2007 and is an attempt to say that even in the technology age, there are still embarrassing ways to meet online (i.e. through role-playing games).
Fast-forward 12 years, and the stigma surrounding online dating is nearly extinct. According to an Axios poll this year, over 50% of Americans who have used apps or sites for dating have a positive view of it.
But just because people are using dating apps more than ever now, doesn’t mean you won’t feel a tinge of shame because of it. For example, telling my parents how Julian and I met – on an app largely attributed to hooking up – was not something I wanted to freely admit at first.
And naysayers still remain. According to the same Axios poll, 65% of people who have never used a dating app have a negative view about it.
But tides are changing. Another study from 2015 found that nearly 60% of Americans think online dating is a good way to meet people – up from 44% a decade earlier. This means the stigma associated with online dating is one trend unlikely to re-emerge – unlike scrunchies and acid-washed jeans.
Not everyone on a dating app is looking to hook up — and not everyone is desperate.
When I first met Julian on Tinder, I was freshly out of a four-year relationship and wasn’t looking for something long-term. We went on three dates within one week before I left for a month of travelling abroad. I didn’t think I’d see him again. I understood that it is hard to keep someone interested while away for so long.
But during my trip, we FaceTimed and texted nearly every day. We made plans to go ice-skating the day I got back to San Francisco. So I deleted Tinder and said sayonara to the rest of the matches in my inbox. I figured I could give this guy a shot.
Tinder has gained a reputation since its launch in 2012 as the dating app designed for quick hook-ups and a simple way to meet people with one swipe. But according to researchers in 2018, casual sex ranked No. 11 out of 13 when it came to people’s motivations for using Tinder. Love ranked significantly higher in the No. 4 spot. Women on Tinder are more likely to look for a match than men.
When people began online dating in the 1990s, the pop culture consensus was that it was for the “desperate” and the “socially inept” – I mean who would possibly turn to the internet for refuge from the typical saw-you-from-across-the-room dating scene? And the opinion of online dating largely stayed that way until movies like “You’ve Got Mail” gained popularity.
Today, you can’t escape movies, TV shows, podcasts, and books about online dating. It’s ever prevalent. And the more dating apps become crucial components of the romantic lives of the characters we love on-screen, the less we as a culture think of them as a prescription for the romantically challenged. For instance, one in 10 Americans are signed up with an online dating service. We all can’t be “desperate,” right?
To drive the point home further, a Stanford study published this year found that nearly 40% of heterosexual couples in the US first met online. And for those who identify as LGBTQ, the percentage is higher.
The idea that only young people meet online is far from true.
Though it is true that online dating is closely tied to younger generations, the number of older users is steadily growing. According to a Pew Research study, online dating users aged 55 to 64 doubled in the last few years – a spike attributed to this decade’s tech boom.
To accommodate the surge in older people seeking love online, apps like SilverSingles, OurTime, and Lumen were born. Sites like eHarmony and Match.com, too, have long been known to host an older user base.
But whether or not 50-plus users have had more success than younger generations on dating apps is still murky.
Earlier this year I spoke with three older women, including my mum, about their experiences on dating apps. I learned that most found them to be exciting, but disappointing in the long run when they weren’t able to find the connection they anticipated. My mum told me as you age, the options for dating get slimmer, but at least an app gives you options.
But don’t be dismayed. There are still success stories, as dating apps allow people the chance to connect across miles – something that wasn’t remotely possible when baby boomers were younger.
Dating app relationships have the ability to go the distance. And maybe down the aisle.
The first time I saw Julian, it was a picture and a profile with no bio. Luckily he was cute. In his photo, he was holding a cup of black coffee and the style of his hair had me thinking he must have just woken up. I swiped right, and the connection was instant. Later that day he messaged me and asked me out without much texting back and forth (which I liked). Our first date we drank margaritas and ate ceviche.
Six months ago, I laughed when Julian’s eyes teared up as he read his vows in that tiny courtroom in Salt Lake City. It feels silly, and cliche, to thank a dating app, let alone Tinder, for my husband – we both lived in the same city for years, and our paths never crossed until they did virtually. But there are days when I do.
And I am not alone. Many couples who meet online are making marriages work, sometimes with greater success than those who met in more conventional ways. That isn’t to say your next saw-you-from-across-the-room moment isn’t around the corner. But maybe a dating app can help get you into that room.
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