Valentine’s Day happened just this week, and just like every year, single people are reminded to look for love by the large quantity of red roses, hearts, and chocolate in the shops. In the past 5 years, on average, online dating apps tend to have an uptick in downloads and messaging on Valentine’s Day.
Match Group, the parent company of Tinder and other dating apps, reported earnings on January 31. The stock was down after the announcement of lower-than-expected financial results and amid uncertainties surrounding the future growth of dating apps.
In the ten plus years since the launch of Tinder, the dating app scene has evolved considerably. Online dating has become normalized and couples who met through dating apps no longer feel the need to lie about it. There is also more choice, many apps catering to different needs, for instance Bumble, where women have to be the first ones to reach out to a match. These improvements have not been enough, however, and users, in particular young women, report negative experiences: horror stories about online dating are all over social media.
User growth of online dating has been slowing and an increasing number of users mention “dating app fatigue.” It is supposed to be easy to find love through these apps, but in practice the search can be long and tiring. You need to be prepared to be ghosted or benched. To respond to some of these challenges, Tinder introduced the Relationship Goals function, where members can see what potential matches are looking for, in order to make better connections. It has also introduced several features to enhance the safety of users, such as the possibility of blocking profiles, a simplified way of reporting messages, and an AI powered feature that detects harmful and harassing messages and prevents them from being sent. To prevent catfishing, an ever-present issue online, most of these apps have also features that verify users, either through specific selfies, or through videos with a timestamp.
To help combat dating app fatigue, Thursday, a dating app that only works one day a week, was introduced. Users are live only on Thursday, and have 24 hours to match, chat, and set up a meeting. The app is for the time being only available in New York and London, and it organizes also member-only events (on Thursdays) where participants can meet someone the old-fashioned way.
This also helps to counter another trend that has been more present in the last year: after two years of the pandemic, where dating apps were the only option available to singles, users are now looking for more in-real-life meeting opportunities.
Looking ahead, the online dating scene needs to keep changing and adapting, and sometimes this also means incorporating more offline options.
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