Finding love on Tinder? Students experiment with dating apps; dangers of online dating; how services use algorithms to match couples?
We all secretly crave the kind of love that lasts forever, but some are quicker to the draw than others. Thanks to the prevalence of online dating, we no longer need to meet coffee-shop style to find true love.
Online dating services have captivated the masses, but it’s unlikely that many people truly understand their inner mechanisms. How does CoffeeMeetsBagel know that Basma, 21 and in optometry school, is a good match for Alex, 23 and a self-proclaimed “artistic genius”?
The truth is, while no dating algorithms are alike, they all share one thing: chance. Within the choosable restrictions (for example, Tinder allows users to customize age, sex and location of potential matches), the algorithm is a crapshoot. Any more advanced matching, which can be dependent on answers to questions about various interests, likes and dislikes, can further narrow down matches.
Many dating sites entice people with their match-making prowess and intrigue shy, anxious people who feel uncomfortable in a traditional dating scenario; the personalized yet intimate experience from behind a screen allows users to stay in their comfort zone while simultaneously meeting new people.
Senior Christine Tran, who frequents dating sites, began using Tinder in her junior year and recalls her experiences as a timid person dating from behind a screen.
“I am pretty shy,” Tran said. “It takes me awhile to get comfortable with someone, so I found it easier to talk to someone through an app. I was able to talk to a diverse range of guys I would never have gotten the chance to talk to in real life because of different social groups or because of distance.”
With Valentine’s Day passed and students hopeful for love, hopeless romantics should be caution when looking on Tinder, Grindr or Match.com to find true love — for many, dating sites are notoriously used for hookups or casual dates, but not long-term relationships.
Senior Juliana Pham, who first began using Tinder during the summer of 2018, said she uses dating apps for fun rather than to find a committed relationship.
“I downloaded it because my friend did,” Pham said. “Me and my friend would ask each other if we thought [a] guy was cute or if we should smash. I think most students probably use them for hookups with guys or girls who are more experienced or mature.”
“I have only had one serious relationship and the rest [were] hookups, but it depends on who you talk to,” Tran said. “I made some good, unexpected friends off Tinder and had some good times but also bad times.”
Just how users hide innocent yet unflattering attributes from their profile, such as recent weight gain or a lazy eye, so do those with poor intentions. For example, a study by Marketdata Enterprise reported that one in 10 accounts on free online dating websites are scammers. Losing a few dollars may not seem that bad, but it gets worse — according to InternetPredatorStatistics.com, internet predators who lure victims through dating sites commit more than 16,000 abductions, 100 murders and thousands of rapes annually.
Despite the dangers, many students remain unfazed.
“There was this one cute gang-member looking guy who was really aggressive and really wanted me to give him my number,” Pham said. “I told him I would text him tomorrow, and then I deleted him.”
“I am pretty cautious about who I meet and disclose my personal information to — I even used a fake name on one of my accounts once,” Tran said. “I try to get to know them, their personality and what they are like on their social media before I meet them. I haven’t run into any bad problems, just guys trying to ask for money, but usually if I ever talk to someone I don’t like or [who] seems dangerous, I just block them and move on.”
For those willing to gamble but fearful of a bad outcome, don’t worry: according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, around 17 percent of marriages begin on dating sites. Not everyone dating online has malicious intent — some are looking for love, just like you.