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Last week, the most popular man on Tinder was all over the news for finally finding love. Stefan Pierre-Tomlin was named “Mr. Tinder” back in 2017, after accumulating 14,600 right-swipes in a mere two years, an all-time record according to the app. An untold number of likes later, Pierre-Tomlin says he’s found the love of his life, but, in one large, delicious dollop of irony, not on the app that earned him his moniker. Pierre-Tomlin met his girlfriend in person, through a friend—or as tabloid headlines are declaring “the old-fashioned way,” which is a fairly damning critique of modern society if non-digital meetings are indeed now considered passé.
Pierre-Tomlin’s story alone is, of course, purely anecdotal evidence, but when viewed with available statistics on apps and modern dating culture, it paints a rather nasty picture. Out of all his matches, for example, Pierre-Tomlin only found two women with whom he had relationships. Which shouldn’t really be surprising: according to one survey, only 44 percent of women and 38.4 percent of men on dating apps are looking for a serious relationship.
(A slightly unrelated but still interesting aside: 0.8 percent of women on these apps are in it for free food and drinks, while 2.9 percent of men are. I’m not sure what to do with that information, but there you go.)
That a majority of Tinder users use the app for casual dating or hook-ups is both very much in line with human nature and very much opposed to it. The desire for sex is deeply human; the need to reproduce is, quite literally, hardwired in our DNA. But lurking around there somewhere in the wiring, in our souls, our genes, whatever you want to ascribe it to, is the urge to have that sex with a person one actually loves and cares for.
Seventy percent of Americans have had (or at least claim to have had) a one-night stand, but 78.2 percent of young college-educated Millennials, the age group generally thought to be the most promiscuous, are having sex with a spouse or significant other. Another survey found that 70 percent of Gen Zers and 63 percent of Millennials say they’re at a point in their lives where they want to go steady. The takeaway from these numbers is clear: people like sex, and while most don’t mind taking it where they can get it, they like it best in the context of a committed relationship.
This isn’t to say that nobody out there likes one-night stands or finds relationships through dating apps. On average, however, people still prefer a committed relationship, something that is, on average, more difficult to find on dating apps due to issues inherent to the medium.
Pierre-Tomlin is far from alone in having difficulty finding a relationship through Tinder. Only 13.6 percent of couples who meet on Tinder wind up getting married and only 15 percent wind up dating long term. Part of this is because most people who meet through dating apps don’t know each other very well before they decide to go out. Dating apps are a visual experience, with users making snap judgments based largely on the pictures in each other’s profiles. There are brief bios too, and they may exchange messages, but, as research shows, digital interactions aren’t as engaging and fail to facilitate bonds as well.
In other words, Tinder widens your dating pool, but does so by orchestrating dates between ill-suited couples, making it no surprise that research from Michigan State University found couples that meet digitally are 28 percent more likely to break up within a year than those who meet face-to-face. The author of the study suggested that the vast number of potential mates and the awareness that there are so many other options out there could contribute to that statistic. The wider dating pool works against relationships again, with the sheer volume of matches lowering their own value.
Pierre-Tomlin is just the highest-profile person to become disillusioned with dating apps. His story serves as a helpful reminder that they are simply a bad idea, a notion that Pierre-Tomlin has been evangelizing to others in his own life too. Since giving up his Tinder ways, Pierre-Tomlin has played matchmaker with more than ten couples and says that they’re all either married or in long-term relationships now.
It seems high time we gave Mr. Tinder a new nickname.