Get ready to have your mind blown with some seriously sexy (and thought provoking) insights into the world of modern dating apps. From racial bias and gender inequality to the rise of instant gratification, there’s no escaping that these apps are exposing the way we view not just sex and relationships, but society at large.
Dating apps may seem like harmless fun at first, but their mainstream popularity has brought big societal topics into the spotlight, whether it’s sex and attraction, sexual identity, gender roles, race, social status, social media or tech (not to mention the rise of f*ckboy culture, Catfishing, and Sugar Babies). Modern dating peels back layers of niceness and reveals our sometimes ugly societal norms, aspirations, and deep desires. The data inside these dating apps could tell us a lot about where we are as a society.
Racial bias and cultural preferences
Data suggests that people prefer same-race or white partners, with black women having the fewest matches overall, even within their own race.
@thisisahnle, TikTok’s ‘data bae’, does a pretty good job of breaking down how racial bias manifests itself when it comes to our choices for partners.
It's expected that same-race matches prove popular, likely because of some familiarity and cultural understanding in their lived experiences and intimate relationships. However, when it comes to interracial matches, data suggests that Asian women prefer white men, whereas black women have significantly fewer matches even within their own race. In most cases, people prefer white counterparts or same-race counterparts, apart from black men with black women receiving the least amount of matches regardless of race - You can see this trend playing out below as we look as response rates for men and women across various races.
Swipe Right for Analysis Paralysis
Modern dating has become a wild west of swiping and scrolling, with dating apps now mirroring the features and functions of social media platforms. Despite a whopping 366 million people looking for love online, the search for the perfect match has become more complicated than ever. Our monkey brains are struggling to cope with the paradox of choice, where having too many options can cause more stress than satisfaction. And let's face it, it's hard enough deciding what to have for dinner from the sad contents of my fridge, let alone choosing a partner from a selection of 366 million faces online.
Pay to play: splitting the rent is a love language
Research suggests 40% of singles report that they aren’t able to date as frequently as they used to because of the financial burden of mingling, and 13% of daters relying on voice notes and virtual dates to judge their compatibility before the physical date stage. That’s because the average date in the UK is said to cost a huge £233.90, with the cost of a date-ready outfit and dining out being the largest costs. With all this to think about, 28% of people say that they tactically arrange their dates around payday to make sure they will have enough money for it.
“I don’t have the wallet – or patience – for ambiguous dating situations anymore”
“The cost of living crisis means that dating has started to feel like an expensive hobby” - Gal Dem
The desire for a financially stable partner is front of mind for many during the current cost of living crisis, with couples more open than ever to moving in together at early stages of a relationship, because it’s cheaper than living alone in the current economy.
Totally hetrifying: a new age of fluidity
The times they are a-changin', and so are the dating norms. Gen Z is proving that the future is indeed fluid. Younger generations are embracing more fluid relationship styles, including same-sex attraction and celibacy. According to Stonewall, 40% of 18-25s identify as same-sex attracted, and Tinder reports that "members aged 18-25 that identify as LGBTQIA+ have more than doubled in the last 2 years".
And fluidity shows up in their attitudes to sex too. While celibacy may seem like an outdated concept, it's making a comeback among younger generations who prioritise meaningful connections and boundaries when it comes to sex and physical intimacy. Despite the popularity of sex-positive shows like Sex Education, Euphoria and Normal people, many say that Gen Z are at the helm of a new ‘sex recession’ as 18-23 year olds are found to be having 14% less casual sex than adults of the same age 10 years ago. The hashtag #celibacy has garnered over 180 million views on TikTok, with one select celibacy practitioner claiming that it helped him ‘get his bag, get his money up and do better for his life… and it feels great’, and another stating ‘by going celebate and raising my standards, I found a man who meets them all and treats me like a queen’
On the opposite end of the spectrum, dating apps like Feeld are keeping up with the times by embracing more fluid, sex-positive relationship styles. Want to explore threesomes, kink, or non-monogamous relationships? No problem! Simply head to the "desires" section on your profile and let a like-minded community know what you're into.
In conclusion, the data surrounding dating apps might seem disheartening, but with younger generations embracing more fluid relationship styles and desires, dating apps are evolving to keep up with our changing societal values. Keep swiping, and who knows, maybe you'll find that special someone who meets all of your deepest and darkest desires.