And here’s the kicker – if you want good results, not only do you need to excel at all this stuff, you also need to put a ton of time into it. The average user spends about 12 hours per week on dating sites, according to academic research. When you’re already working 60+ hours at your day job, that means kissing a significant chunk of your free time goodbye.
The OkCupid app is much more like a traditional dating site than most apps, because that's what it used to be, and still is, with the added convenience that you can now use it on your phone. You set up a profile which includes questions about things like your interests, lifestyle and what you're looking for in a relationship. You then get to browse profiles which will display a match percentage based on how much you have in common. People who use OkCupid find this a helpful way to filter through potential dates and find someone with whom they're going to have lots in common.
Nerve’s profile form encouraged its users to refer to objects, through prompts such as “In my bedroom you will find,” “In my refrigerator you will find,” and “The last great book I read.” A good example was that of M2-34, who listed as “Five items I can’t live without”: “My Mac / The next bottle of wine / Business cards / My passport / A dinner companion (hate eating alone!).” Within a single line, he makes references that indicate an affiliation with and reliance on particular forms of technology (a trendy laptop—others referred to their iPods); an appreciation for wine (as opposed to beer, which may be viewed as less “classy” and also more “male”); the importance of work and international travel; and a “place” for a partner within a particular vision of urban living. Compare this with the items listed by F10-36, who in the same category included “Crockpot / Guitar / Microphone / A Man (unfortunate but true …) / Spices.” This demonstrates a concurrence with traditional gender norms for women—not only is “a man” listed as an object among others; he is also indispensable (Paasonen, 2007).
Profiles were chosen from the first and second pages of search results, rather than through any kind of in-site “recommendations” or by deliberate selection of exemplary profiles. Throughout my analysis and discussion, profiles are referred to not by their actual user names but by codes reflecting male/female identification, sample number, and age (e.g., F10-36).
Until at least 2011, Nerve allowed users to search for appropriate matches using delimiting criteria such as location, age, sex, and sex of desired partner. I restricted the search criteria so that all the profiles I chose were from individuals living in a single Canadian province, all were either men seeking women or women seeking men, and all were aged 25 to 35 years. Profiles were selected according to 1) whether they showed up in this search, 2) whether users were seeking “opposite-sex” matches only, and 3) how much text users provided (500 words minimum). The purpose of this was to delimit the scope of the data, to target the groups most likely to try to tap in to normative gender presentations, and also to make sure the profiles had enough text for an analysis.
In 2013, a former employee sued adultery website Ashley Madison claiming repetitive strain injuries as creating 1000 fake profiles in one three week span "required an enormous amount of keyboarding" which caused the worker to develop severe pain in her wrists and forearms. AshleyMadison's parent company, Avid Life Media, countersued in 2014, alleging the worker kept confidential documents, including copies of her "work product and training materials." The firm claimed the fake profiles were for "quality assurance testing" to test a new Brazilian version of the site for "consistency and reliability."
Tinder is essentially the modern dating app. You've probably heard of this one already. Every time you load up the app, it shows you some profiles. You swipe one way if you like them, or swipe the other way if you don't. If a match is made, you can converse in a private chat to arrange a meet up. This app can be used for doing anything from finding friends to one night stands and everything between. It has bugs, some spam accounts, and some other issues. However, it's a good place to get started in the dating apps scene. In addition, the popularity helps ensure that people in most areas get profiles to look at that are also real people, and popularity actually does matter with dating apps.
When Samantha Karjala started using apps to meet more people in her small Northeastern town, she was annoyed at what they implied. “When you say you went on a Tinder date, most people expect you had sex with the person,” she says. “It’s a bummer, because I used it to meet cool people to expand my dating pool, which was helpful with the radius feature on Tinder.” She says that, despite some annoying responses from dudes, she was just out of a relationship and wanted to stick with using the app. “I think I most enjoyed the bios, because it really shows what people think is important enough to say in a few words.” Her bio was a Nicki Minaj lyric that she says, “sparked a lot of conversations”—including one with the guy who would later become her husband.
If you’re tired of the back and forth of trying to schedule a date that works with your busy schedule, check out Now, an app built specifically to make that easier. Available in the Apple App Store and Google Play, it matches you with people based on your schedules. This probably isn't the best app for finding a meaningful connection, as it's based solely on you having free time simultaneously with another user, but it's a good way to schedule a lot of dates and have a lot of fun.
The results of this study are subject to limitations, most notably the small sample size, with profiles chosen from only one website, age group, and geographic area, at one specific time. The study also focuses only on those seeking heterosexual or “opposite-sex” relationships, excluding those seeking same-sex partners (usually identifying as bisexual or homosexual). This approach does not provide generalizable conclusions.
When it comes down to actually putting yourself out there and creating a profile, all apps ask for the basics: name, age, location, a photo, a short blurb about yourself, and (usually) if you can stand a person who smokes. Beyond that, it can be a bit of a crapshoot. Some apps, like Tinder, value photos over personality. Others, like eharmony, make you fill out an endless questionnaire before you can even think about browsing for your match. Still others, like Zoosk, ask so little that you're left to wonder what's being used to actually match you with like-minded singles.
This app wants to find you more than just a one-night stand or a cool-for-the-summer situation. That said, you're going to have to work for it. To join, you have to fill out an extensive survey, and you can't see photos of your potential matches unless you pay to subscribe. If you're out to spend more time finding your mate, eharmony is a good (if more costly) option. That is, as long as you're not looking for a same-sex mate: That's not an option here.