What students dare to admit they’re on Tinder?
“Back in the day, in the fourth year of high school, everyone had Tinder,” freshman student of Biomedical Sciences Tristan reminisces. “We were joking around with it a lot. No one was actually seriously dating.” Right after the release of the popular dating app, this was the general feeling about Tinder five years ago. It’s different now – Tinder, Happn, and Grindr are almost completely accepted, and only a few are still embarrassed about using the apps. Statistics from 2014 from Statistics Netherlands state that 13 percent of couples met online, of whom half met on a dating site. Apps that aim to start friendships do exist, but are rarely used – although, of course, internet dates can result in friendships.
It’s a little cheap
At the risk of being redundant, let’s explain for those who have never secretly checked out anyone on Tinder. You download the app, fill in a profile, fill it with photos, a short bio (optional), and if you want, info on education and work. Then you’re ready to swipe through bikini pics and group photos of half-drunk groups of friends. If you both swipe right (like!), you have a match, and you can start chatting.
Sociologist Beate Volker has also noticed dating apps are now completely normal. “It’s a general trend to do a lot of things online. For everything you do or buy – whether it’s a house, a job, or a partner – and for all the things that were once done through informal networks or newspapers, there’s a way to do it online now and it’s being done on a massive scale.”
Still, dating apps do come with a certain image, according to personal experience and answers from students we met walking around campus. “It’s a little cheap,” Hanna, freshman Biology student, says. “For me, it’s not necessary to meet people that way. In this time in my life, I’m meeting so many new people.” Fellow biology student Zeger concurs. “It’s not a normal way to meet new people, I’d say. It’s weird. I’m not against it, but I meet people through my studies and associations. I met my girlfriend through a study friend, as well.”
It’s not weird or anything
For those logging on to Tinder with serious goals, Volker has one important tip: “If you’re looking for a relationship, try to meet up as soon as you can. It’s a heavy step to take, but we’re seeing more people taking the risk, which makes it easier for others, too.” Astrid, freshman Biology student, took the step, too. She bursts out laughing when she tells the story of how she met her ‘semi-relationship’ on Tinder. “It’s not weird or anything, but it’s not like either of us to meet people that way, and yet that’s what happened. Neither of us is really good at getting to know people quickly, and it takes some time for us to open up to others. So it’s a little weird to meet each other this way. But perhaps we were both just a little desperate,” she laughs.
It’s nice that introverts like Astrid have an easy way to get to know people this way, but is dating in this way really healthy? “On one hand, it’s just people using the technology that we have,” Volker says, “which is a normal, healthy development. But what concerns me, is how easy it is to swipe left and dismiss someone. We’re so quick to say ‘it’s not a perfect fit, never mind then’. You become very selective, which takes away the chance of discovering something you perhaps wouldn’t have anticipated.” In other words: people who don’t fit your ideal might be just as great as others, but with internet dating, might not get a chance to prove it.
I don’t want those pretty-boy-selfies
Merel, freshman Biology student, says she looks at the type of photos. “I don’t want to see those pretty-boy-selfies, and I do look at education.” Her friend Astrid agrees. “I’m an athletic, adventurous outdoorsy person, and if that’s something I see in someone, I’ll swipe right because that person looks interesting. I’m not a heavy drinker, so photos taken at parties don’t interest me much.”
It might be innovative, but app users are still rather conservative, Volker says. “Research shows that people on the internet are rather strict in their selections, and reasonably conservative at that. In matches, men are generally a little older and higher educated than women, and there isn’t too much of a gap between the levels of education of the partners. Ethnical background tends to be similar,” the professor explains. “It’s a stricter selection than we make in real life. It can be explained by the fact that you simply have less information to go on. You can’t see someone’s gestures when they talk, you can’t hear their tone of voice, and you can’t see someone’s amazing sense of humor. You can only see a few pointers: looks, education, and maybe where someone works. So it’s a very limited picture.”
Practice your Dutch with this video in which DUB asks students if they have an account on Tinder.
Translation: Indra Spronk