It’s a Saturday night, and Kaitlin Moore is hanging out in her bedroom with some girlfriends. They all pull out their phones and launch Tinder, but instead of searching for a hot date, Kaitlin and her friends are here to play games.
“I honestly think it’s just a fun game when you’re bored,” said Moore, a junior film production major. “My friends and I just swipe through to find friends or to have funny conversations with guys who message us.”
Moore and her friends spend hours swiping through a pool of single men with no intention of meeting or getting to know them, undermining the intended purpose of the app, which is to find dates and hookups. The app was created to spark communication between mutually interested users, but nothing about Moore’s game is mutual – and there are many users just like her.
There are approximately 26 million matches made on Tinder every day, but more than 70 percent of millennials using the app have never met with a match in-person, according to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center. 9,000 millennials aged 18-24, were asked why they use Tinder, and 45 percent admitted it was to boost their confidence, according to the study. Only 4 percent said they were actually looking for a relationship. And while Tinder is used by all genders, the group that participates the most notably in this trend is women.
Janira Jacoubs-Beye, a relationship psychologist located in Anaheim, said the need for instant gratification is a slippery slope.
“This is where the problem lies for people who need acceptance through artificial means, such as excessive Facebook likes, pokes, shared, or dating matches, using Tinder will yield artificial happiness,” she said.
Having their attractiveness affirmed will not bring about genuine satisfaction and fulfillment, she said.
“When I’m bored, I go on Tinder and just swipe on hot guys, and it honestly just feels good to be swiped back on,” said Tia Ruszkowska, a senior Public Relations and Advertising major.“I never even message them back. It’s just nice to know that option is open.”
Even non-Tinder user, Christina Yannello, a sophomore public relations and advertising major, said that she would “getting constant compliments and swipes from guys” would boost her confidence.
“I do think it makes women and men feel better about themselves and to me, that’s pretty much the purpose of this casual app,” Moore said. “If a guy asked me out through Tinder messages, I probably wouldn’t even respond to the first message, especially if I don’t know him.”
Some women are often worried for their safety, especially if they only have a short bio and a few pictures of their potential date.
“Literally anyone can create a Tinder profile, and you can never tell what’s real and what’s not real,” Ruszkowska said “I would never meet up with a match in person because they could be completely different than what I might expect.”.
Fear of dishonesty on dating apps is common among student users. A global research agency, OpinionMatters, conducted a study of over 1,000 online daters and found that 53 percent of US participants admitted to having lied when creating their online dating profile. If women do not feel safe meeting up with a match, then they are less likely to carry on a conversation with them.
“It’s pretty scary to meet up with a random guy who you’ve never met. I would only go on a date with a match if I already know him so we have an established connection,” Moore said.
Some Chapman men are noticing how the one sided conversations are changing app’s purpose. Christian Hyatt, junior creative producing major beliefs Tinder has become an app where people just affirm each other’s attractiveness.
“When I messaged girls, I tried to be witty by using something in their name or bio in my message but most of the time they didn’t respond, which is lame,” he said. “Either that or they’d just say ‘haha’ and nothing more.”
Junior TV writing and production major Zach Gelman said interest from women quickly fell flat.
“The girls I messaged would respond, but the conversations we’re never as fun and flirty compared to doing it in person,” Gelman said. “If they didn’t respond, I really didn’t feel bad at all because the stakes are so low on Tinder.
While these Chapman men do not take Tinder rejection or awkwardness too seriously, there are other male Tinder users who are vocally upset with this lopsided interest. It is common enough to have inspired a plaintive post on Girls ask Guys, a popular website for college students, from a frustrated male Tinder user.
“Girls, do you use Tinder to actually communicate or do you just like the attention from guys?” the post read, “Why would you want to lead someone on for personal gain? I think it’s immature and kind of insulting.”
Women on the site offered a variety of explanations. Some admitted they used it for occasional ego boosts, some use it to mess with guys who are only looking for a hookup, and others are too afraid to meet matches for safety and uncertainty reasons.
Jacoubs-Beye suggested that there may be more to the story than women wanting real-world communication.
“Girls may just be substituting another void in their life through trivial matches and views on dating sites. The ones who are using it with no intention of dating are often times lacking in intimacy or connection. The feeling, which they may not even know is absent from their life, is different for everyone. It is not just about feeling hot, there is normally a deeper meaning for this desire for self-validation,” she said.
Another relationship psychologist and Chapman alimna Cindy Fazendin said she has also observed this behavior in her profession.
“In my practice, I see women swiping right because they are in need of a self-esteem boost. They don’t feel pretty or special. I asked one particular 25-year-old client if she didn’t feel rejected when she swiped on someone and they didn’t swipe back. Her response was that she swipes on so many guys she doesn’t even remember them and thus can’t feel rejected,” Fazendin said.
In line with the attitudes of Chapman women, usage of the app is often just aimless swiping, which experts said diminishes the user’s fear of rejection.
“There’s a condition in babies called Failure to Thrive; when they are neglected or emotionally deprived from a connection to a nurturing caretaker they literally fail to grow. As adults we need to have the same acceptance and connection for our psychological and physical well-being,” Fazendin said.