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- | February 15, 2021, 6:54 CST

An Introduction to Dating Apps
Dating apps are more common and convenient than ever. Here’s a guide to help you jump in.

Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship, a hookup, a friend with benefits or anything in between, a dating app can connect you with like-minded individuals interested in the same goals. Instead of waiting on fate to bring you the perfect match, simply browse through a catalog of candidates at your leisure, without the in-person awkwardness or fear of public rejection.

Setting up a profile on a dating app is easy. Most apps, when downloaded, give you the option to pull general information about yourself and photos from your other social media accounts. From there, you choose what to share with potential matches. Put your best foot forward, but be careful not to stray too far from the real you. Be authentic, because you will likely meet this person in real life if all goes well.

Pros of dating apps

A first interaction online may sound like an ideal setting to some people, but online dating might be daunting to others. The reality is, just like meeting a romantic partner in real life, dating apps come with their own set of perks, quirks and downsides.

Great for introverts

Introverts can have a difficult time putting themselves out there and making in-person connections. Dating apps remove this high-pressure social interaction and allow introverts to comfortably meet new people in a detached environment.

Great for busy schedules

Some people don’t have time to scout potential matches at the bar, gym or coffee shop. Dating apps can be used as frequently or infrequently as desired. No time commitment is required.

Wider pool of matches

Simply put, apps give you access to nearby people that you may have never run into without them.

There’s an app for everyone

Do you want to meet people based on music taste (Taste Buds), food choices (Dine) or religious beliefs (Christian Mingle, JSwipe, Muzmatch)? There’s an app for that. Actually, more than 1,500 dating apps appeal to all preferences, even those as specific as having a partner with a beard (Bristlr).

Cons of dating apps

While the list of positive attributes for dating apps is significant, the apps do have their downsides, which will be more important to some users than others.

Short-lived relationships

Short-term relationships definitely aren’t always the case, but without an equal interest to meet on both sides, connections made on an app generally fizzle out after a short time. That’s especially true if one person continues browsing for matches.

Largely based on physical attributes

Without extensive quizzes to test compatibility, some apps focus only on the pictures of a potential match, leaving users to make a split-second decision on interest based on photos. That’s not the best method of choosing a mate if you plan to actually have conversations and go on dates.

Increased chance of sexual harassment

Although many apps have made changes aimed at preventing sexual harassment—limiting exchanges to matches, in-depth reporting functionality, restricting the ability to send pictures in the app—significant percentages of both women and men still report instances of online harassment.

Too many choices

All the choices at your fingertips may have you spiraling into Goldilocks syndrome, leaving you looking for the option that’s just right. The all-powerful ability to swipe left or right as many times as you want may have you skipping over individuals who actually check most of your boxes and could have turned out to be a wonderful companion.

Is a dating app right for you?

Whether or not you create an account is completely up to you, but about six in 10 daters report an overall positive experience on these various platforms.

You have more than a thousand apps to choose from that can connect you with an ideal mate, regardless of whether you’re searching for a night or a lifetime. If you’re curious about the apps, most are free to download. And if it doesn’t work out, apps are easily muted, deleted or hidden. More than any other dating option, you’re truly in charge of your entire experience.

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