Anyone who has or has had a profile on a dating app knows that there is a good chance that at some point you will get ghosting, that is to say, that someone disappears from one day to the next, leaving a message unanswered. According to a study by the Canadian University of Western Ontario, 72% of the people surveyed had suffered it and 64.5% had done it. But perhaps the worst thing is not that this happens. Perhaps the worst thing is that it seems that it has normalized what happens. Dating applications are generally seen as a catalog of people among whom you can navigate and decide, with a simple gesture, if you are interested or not. This quantity and ease, in an age of rapid and varied stimuli, is possibly the basis of its success. And it is also postulated as the cause of phenomena such as ghosting. “It does not give me life to answer all the messages. So I focus on what I can and leave the others”, says Marta, 29 years old.
Given this, it could be argued that what is affectively responsible would be to contact a volume of people that can be managed. But the trend in the use of these applications is not going that way. According to the article It’s not you, it’s Tinder. Gamification, consumption, daily management and performance in “levante” applications, The use of this type of platform is considered as “a playful and competitive experience, similar to that of a video game, which implies the sexual-affective search on-line in the sense of unraveling strategies and deploying skills to obtain higher scores in the form of I like either matches”.
Applications are tools that work in one way or another depending on how we use them. So it could be said that if unhealthy ways of relating arise, it is more the fault of the users than of the application itself. Marta does not entirely agree with this: “The very structure of the application validates that you contact a lot of people and that you do not respond to everyone because it will keep proposing new profiles.”
Javier, 21, and also a user of the best-known dating app, comments that “sometimes there are users who interest me on Tinder and I’ve started to follow them on Instagram. Then I begin to see them in a different way and it would not occur to me to ask them ghosting, For example”. Tinder is conceived as a catalog where the image prevails —although there is a brief text— and where each profile is almost like a consumer object. On Instagram you can share everyday aspects, hobbies, opinions, reels that they like, photos of the pet… Despite all the posturing on this social network, it humanizes and brings people closer.
The almost unlimited catalog offered by Tinder causes another phenomenon: the endless search. “Even though you’re talking to one person, it’s easy to get the feeling that there might be someone better. So you keep looking”, says Javier. This is at the base of phenomena with names in English less known than the ghostingbut just as present in current relationships as the benching, that is, to show small signs of interest that make those who wait never see the expectation disappear; or the breadcrumbingwhich is the definition of leaving crumbs of attention to maintain the interest of the other person, although in general there is no intention of materializing the interaction.
That endless search for matches perfect on a site with a huge catalog can lead to another problematic use of applications: hooking. “There is a virtually limitless possibility of potential dating partner options that can make it more difficult to stop using Tinder,” as specified in the study. Too many swipes for today: The development of the Problematic Tinder Use Scale (PTUS). Being able to see how close users are and anticipate a possible reward in the form of an appointment is another feature of the application that contributes to its use and abuse.
Finding sexual encounters is one of the reasons for use —not the only one and, according to some research, not the main one— for this type of application. The consumption of bodies under that expression of “sex only” seems to forget the emotional part that is included in any relationship (even when it is “sex only”). If we add to this way of thinking the unlimited catalog effect of Tinder, we have a perfect combo to neglect affective responsibility.
Aware of all this, there are other dating apps that aim to humanize the experience. Beyond those that are segmented by interests —for vegans or vegetarians, polyamorous, LGTBI…— or those that seek to generate encounters by valuing something more than image, some seek to correct the vices of the most popular. One of them is Hinge, which is committed to creating less matchesbut of higher quality, and for helping to avoid the ghosting accidental, sending reminder messages when it is your turn to answer, in case you miss it. It is currently only available in the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and India.
And despite everything, why do we still use dating apps?
Of course, there are people who have found great relationships on Tinder. The application must have something good for it to be difficult to find, especially among millennials and generation Z, someone who does not have or has had a profile. Using Tinder can have positive mood effects, especially when receiving matches, which work in a similar way to positive feedback on social media. It’s obvious: having “success”, understood in the form of the number of encounters, makes you feel good. In the study Tinder blue, mental flow? Exploring the associations between Tinder use and well-being They add that although a greater number of matches it can improve the well-being of users, it can also worsen sadness and anxiety, since the most successful users are likely to be compulsive users of the application.
On the other hand, these kinds of apps can reduce the anxiety of those who have a high sensitivity to rejection due to the lack of explicit negative feedback. But that same thing can reduce one’s own well-being when one tends to compare one’s own “failure” with the “success” of others, which also happens even if there is no data from other users’ matches.
Marta is clear about why she uses Tinder: “I go in when I’m bored. I don’t always look for meetings, but to entertain myself.” The ease of connecting with new people every day makes it easy. So, on the one hand, there are apps, which don’t seem to help build healthy relationships, full of profiles. And on the other, articles on the importance of taking care of oneself and taking care of relationships proliferate. The ghosting, while emotional responsibility is claimed. inconsistencies.