Millennials swipe left to traditional dating

An alternative way to meet Mr. and Miss “Right” is taking over the dating scene with “swipe” apps like Tinder and Grindr

Gabriela Morales

With the swipe of a finger, Millennials are re-defining the dating culture with the help of dating apps on their phone.

Aaron Didier, psychology freshman, said he uses Grindr, a social networking app for gay and bisexual men, as his preferred dating app.

“Meeting someone in person isn’t easier. It’s just easier to find someone to meet on an app,” Didier said.

However, while dating apps can be helpful in meeting new people, Sara Feldman, A’15, who previously used apps such as Tinder and OKCupid, said they were best used for a causal fling or short-term relationships.

“My last relationship came off of Tinder, but other than that, I’ve never had any long-term relationships. It’s mostly been just like one or two dates,” Feldman said.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2015, 22 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds admitted to using mobile dating apps compared to the 5 percent that reported using the apps
in 2013.

While these apps are ingrained into the hook-up culture of the Millennial generation, Chuck Genre, licensed relationship counselor, said there are emotional and societal risks that can come with
using them.

“I think that one of the things that is at stake with exploring relationship possibilities electronically is our sense of empathy for others,” Genre said. “It’s so easy to lose empathy for the person on the other end of the electronic exchange. So much nuance and context is lost through electronic comunication because, when you think about it, most communication between humans is nonverbal.”

In a 2015 study done by GlobalWebIndex, it was discovered that 42 percent of Tinder users were either married or in a relationship. Genre said that dating apps create a blurred line between commitment and casual connection.

“What I often find with young people who are exploring potential relationships through online means is that they find themselves in this very ambiguous state. Often, they are in an ambiguous state of having a relationship online, maybe multiple ones, that gives them the luxury of not feeling alone, but they also  don’t benefit from the richness of building an intimate relationship,” Genre said. “It’s easier to live in that in-between state when we can objectify the person on the other end, so swipe left, swipe right, right? You don’t have to really feel. You don’t have to really be invested.”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study about Millennials and adulthood, approximately 26 percent of 18 to 33 year-olds are married. This compares to the 36 percent of Generation X, 48 percent of Baby Boomers and 65 percent of the Silent Generation who were married at that age range. While there are many factors that go into the decline of marriage, Genre said that dating apps are helping to change the meaning of marriage
and relationships.

“I think it affects the willingness of people to take emotional risks. I see this commonly with clients. To build an intimate relationship with someone whether it’s marriage or not– it takes focus; it takes commitment. It takes discipline; it takes risk,” Genre said. “And what’s happening more and more is that people are being less willing to do those things when they have several new possibilities on the side. They can scroll through their electronic devices and check out somebody else, checking out the prospects
and possibilities.

Genre said because dating apps make it easier to connect with other people and Millennials are dependent on their technology, it allows this generation to deal with unwanted feelings with objects and other people instead of managing it with self-care.

“One thing about electronic media is that we have constant access to people and relationships. It’s so easy to distract yourself from discomfort, anxiety, sadness, from difficult emotions by going to text somebody. I think it’s a basic skill of self-care in managing anxiety that Millennials really struggle with,” Genre said. “They don’t know how to be by themselves. And as such, they become more dependent on a relationship, on somebody else to make them feel better. I mean, it’s not wrong, but it cheapens the depth of human engagement when we have to go through something electronic to meet the other person.”