top of page
Gabor Papp_edited.jpg
Edition #4
Fates and Choices
Gábor A. Papp
Edited by Andrei Andronic

Summer Romances in the Age of Dating Apps:

How sweet desires are tarnished by the masses

If there is one sort of marathon we have all tried to run, it is the marathon for a summer romance  which is not surprising. The notion of it became part of our collective, and in some sense even a part of our yearly goals. So we all recognise it as a staple of our lives, but I wonder, who is to blame for that? Not that it is a bad thing-- after all, we are creatures with certain social, physical and above all, emotional needs. The answer is rather complex. Our social norms went through an incredible change due to technology and the normalisation of capitalistic/materialistic values.  But coming back to this pertinent question, the mainstream film industry could be a good place to start.

Hollywood, and lately, the streaming giants like Netflix, have been pouring out cheesy and quite unrealistic teen dramas for decades. Selling this idea that finding Mr. or Mrs. Right during a holiday vacation, in a summer school or wherever, is going to be the turning point in your life from where it can only get better. This is not revolutionary, as summer has always been the season of love and adventure, where you get lost in the night, which, especially in summer, has its own rules. So now that there is an increased demand for partners, where is the supply?

As humans, we have limited senses, intelligence and abilities. That is why we created machines to travel faster, see better, or to navigate in a foreign land. Why would it be any different with finding relationships? Dating apps sell you exactly this, the illusion of infinite possibilities, potential partners who sometimes - to be frank - are way out of your league, especially if you buy that gold or diamond (or whatever new precious metal they discover) subscription package. The problem is that in most cases they seem to have the opposite results.

Hearts on a discount

Loads of abruptly made matches with complete strangers you saw two pictures of and read a 2-line bio. Dozens of conversations without depth or actual consequence. All those cancelled dates because “there are another 100 matches anyway”. Does it sound familiar?

Dating apps are the perfect example of capitalism expanding into our social norms by the commercialization of love, and turning relationships into another product of mass consumption - use it, abuse it and lose it. Rather than experiencing appreciation and attention we are becoming products on this new market and people who scroll too much - increasingly all of us - have to face dire consequences, or at least disappointment.  Indeed, we have never been able to select partners from such a gigantic pool of options. On Tinder for instance, a user is presented with 140 partner options a day on average (Smith, 2018). Instead of establishing more relationships, the demand for online dating brought an increased number of singles in our society. As it turns out, according to the study A Rejection Mind-Set: Choice Overload in Online Dating (Pronk, 2019) the abundance of choice we have in online dating-- which is also the source of its popularity-- is one of the main factors behind the feeling of loneliness and eventually, burnout. Drowning in matches without a single breath of fresh air, going through the same conversations to get to “know” each other, such a repetitiveness eventually leads to the point where you say: “I don’t care anymore”. In return, this indifference of the vast majority eventually hinders the willingness of the originally enthusiastic minority. Not to mention the fact that most users are strangers to one another, which also creates a less civil dating environment, resulting even in slurs and sexual harassment (Anderson, Vogels & Turner, 2020). After a while, the bar gets so low that if you find someone who is actually capable of holding a conversation or has the basic manners of dating, you have the sudden urge to build them a monument while fantasising about your future relationship already.

As pointed out by Peterson (2021), these dating apps predominantly reward a very small fraction of users. While women tend to be much pickier about their mating partner, men date with all sorts of women, regardless of their social standing, generally seeking short-term sexual gratification. This choosiness is not only understandable but even necessary. After all, women invest nine months into a pregnancy while a man’s initial contribution to it is only a few minutes. So generally speaking, men value beauty, and women place more importance on social status and access to financial resources. That said, these preferences can vary in different circumstances. For instance, when women are looking for a life partner or for a sperm donor (Bokek-Cohen, 2022), or when they are higher on the Dark Triad traits (Burtaverde, 2021). And also when it comes to LGBTQ+ people (Kostic and Scofield, 2022). As I like to say: “Love is an adventure wrapped up in mystery”.

What we know for sure is that while women tend to swipe right on only five to ten percent of profiles they come across, men do this with sixty to seventy five percent of them. Unfortunately, these matches rarely progress anywhere. As a study in Norway showed, fifty percent of Tinder users have only ever been on one face-to-face date (Grøntvedt et al., 2020).

Despite all these tools to help us find a partner or a hook-up, researchers are alarmed by the declines in all forms of partnered sexual activity around the world. A recent study found that

between 2009 and 2018, the proportion of adolescents and young adults reporting no sexual activity, either alone or with partners, rose from 28.8 percent to 44.2 percent among young men and from 49.5 percent in 2009 to 74 percent among young women (Herbenick, Debby, et al, 2022).

Although the study did not probe the reasons for that – there isn’t one single answer, rather a myriad of factors that contribute to this trend – the researchers highlighted the increased social media and videogame usage among young people, the surge in “rough sex”, which includes choking and strangling for those between 18 and 29 years, less alcohol consumption, the environmental influence on people’s hormones, and last but not least, overall changes in human intimacy.


As for the problem deriving from the abundance of choices on dating apps, there are two solutions. Firstly, the system should be altered to act like a pyramid, by gradually decreasing the number of people you can chat with - matches / open chats (limit to 5) / active open chats (limit to 3) / (system should delete those chats with whom you did not manage to get a date after 3 days of talking) / once you had a date - both parties could rate it anonymously and say if they want to meet again or not. After 3 dates the match is deleted automatically. Although one might argue that, especially if the root of the problem is that we are relying on a machine or a company, turning to more automation might not be the solution we need. Unfortunately reestablishing the dominant human factor in the equation won’t be easy. As a recent book pointed out, one of the most significant outcomes of online dating has been the “privatisation of intimacy”. Which means that the practices of seeking out and forming a relationship, whether it is romantic or just sexual, now occurs wholly seperated from our everyday social contexts like school, work, neighbourhood or friends, through the internet (Bergström, 2021).

For better or worse, it seems that online dating won’t go away. All we can do is to adapt, and understand these new norms of intimacy while trying to stay humane with one another as much as possible.


Smith C. (2018). 45 Interesting Tinder statistics. Digital Stat Articles. Retrieved from

Pronk, Tila M., and Jaap JA Denissen. "A rejection mind-set: Choice overload in online dating." Social Psychological and Personality Science 11.3 (2020): 388-396.

Anderson, Monica, A. Vogels Emily and Turner, Erica. “The Virtues and Downsides of Online Dating.” Pew Research (2020).

Peterson, Jordan, Henderson, Rob. “Sex and Dating Apps” The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast - S4: E47 (2021)

Grøntvedt et al. “Hook, Line and Sinker: Do Tinder Matches and Meet Ups Leadto One-Night Stands?” Evolutionary Psychological Science (2020) 6:109–118.

Herbenick, Debby, et al. "Changes in penile-vaginal intercourse frequency and sexual repertoire from 2009 to 2018: Findings from the national survey of sexual health and behavior." Archives of sexual behavior 51.3 (2022): 1419-1433.

Bergström, M., 2021. The New Laws of Love: Online Dating and the Privatization of Intimacy. John Wiley & Sons.

Kostic, B. and Scofield, J.E., 2022. Sex and Sexual Orientation Differences in Sexuality and Mate Choice Criteria. Archives of Sexual Behavior, pp.1-11.

Bokek-Cohen, Y.A., 2022. Sperm donors versus long-term mates: a comparison of preferences of heterosexual and lesbian women. Human Fertility, pp.1-13.

Burtaverde, V., 2021. Women high on the Dark Triad traits are more attracted to narcissistic males if they are oriented to long term mating and had fewer experiences with unfaithful men. Personality and Individual Differences, 173, p.110627.

Read more
Zsofi Lazar_edited.jpg

Zsófi Lazar

The Masters of our Fate: Does the Male Gaze choose for us?

Second ED - Hannah Kloft_edited.jpg

Hannah Kloft

The Fault in our Charts

Second ED - Ysabel Cacho_edited.jpg

Ysabel Cacho

Are You Still Afraid of the Dark?

Emma Gabor_edited.jpg

Emma Gabor

Hope, you Wicked, Nasty Siren: After The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the Inevitable Waves of Change

Liliana Alloueche_edited.jpg

Liliana Alloueche

Me too on trial?
Depp v. Heard and the limitations of the movement.

Georgij Melkinov _ Sunset Gunther option 1.jpg

Sunset Gunther

Where do we go from here? Never go back, where you came from!

bottom of page