Are dating apps hurting or helping us find love in the Big Apple?

by Katie Fustich
August 9, 2018
Dating Apps
image via shutterstock

New York City is home to 8.5 million people — many of them single. By those odds, your soulmate could be right around the corner (or, at the very least, off somewhere in Queens). Of course, it doesn’t always feel that way, and wading through the New York dating scene is no task for the faint of heart.

“People who live in New York City expect that it should be easy to find someone to date, but these expectations can crush your spirit,” said Manhattan-based psychologist, Gregory Kushnick, Psy.D. “In truth, it is harder to find someone to date because people [in New York] are too busy.”

Yet, in the last decade, the city’s dating scene has undergone a technological transformation. The onset of dating-focused websites and mobile apps has given rise to an entirely new dating culture — one that has received a mixed response. Tinder, Match, PlentyofFish, OkCupid and Bumble represent some of the top choices for NYCers looking for love. What’s more, all of these sites and apps have distinctly different target age ranges, levels of detail and interactivity, making it clear that the digital dating craze is unrestricted to a certain demographic.

Swiping has changed dating behavior by accelerating decision making.”

“Swiping has changed dating behavior by accelerating decision making,” Dr. Kushnick said. For some, this means an exciting, never-ending stream of new names and faces. For others, it means disappointment upon disappointment. While stats show that certain dating apps may have better results for specific groups (i.e. Grindr is known for more casual encounters, while eHarmony has a higher marriage rate), the fact remains that the success of any app lies with the user.

If popular culture is any indication, the masses are doing their best to cope with the new reality of online dating through humor. TV shows like “Master of None” and “Girls”, among others, prominently feature online dating, largely as a gag reflecting the insanity of our tech-heavy historical moment, and the awkwardness, ghosting and flaking that goes along with it. Indeed if an alien were to land on this planet and have only Netflix and Twitter to understand what digital dating was all about, they would probably think dating sites were nothing but a watering hole for creeps with questionable facial hair.

Success for New Yorkers on dating apps comes down to [...] creating an overall app dating strategy.”

While there may be a kernel of truth nestled within these stereotypes, statistics indicate the realities of online dating are (shockingly) positive. Results of a 2017 survey conducted by wedding-savvy website The Knot indicate that 19 percent of brides report meeting their spouses online, making it the most common source for finding a partner. A similar survey indicated that 42 percent of people using dating sites or apps have the goal of finding a long-term partner or future spouse.

This bevy of statistics point to the fact that dating technology can and does work. Yet, as with so many other things, a bad apple or two is capable of spoiling the bunch. Still, with roughly 40 percent of the U.S. population on some form of digital dating platform, hope springs eternal for those looking for love.

As Dr. Kushnick summed it up, “Success for New Yorkers on dating apps comes down to three things: managing expectations, limiting time investment and creating an overall app dating strategy.” Translation: live your life, play your cards right and next spring you might just be one of the 19 percent saying “I do” after swiping right.

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