Assistant Mosaic Editor
To swipe left or to swipe right?
That is the question that plagues millions of Tinder users each day as they peruse an endless stream of profiles. With 57 million users worldwide, it’s no surprise that Tinder has become one of the top-grossing dating apps since its release in 2012. Even more unsurprising is the primary demographic the app attracts is college-age students.
Among the millions of Tinder users, 35% of them are aged 18 to 24, as of 2018. This age range captures the typical college student audience and for good reason. The dating app was initially tried on college campuses across America, with representatives for the app speaking largely to sororities to engage large swaths of people. Since then, college students have become a primary focus demographic.
Although the app is hugely popular among college students, many students disagree on the purpose of the app. Most commonly referred to as a “hookup app,” many people assume Tinder is simply a quick and easy way to find one-night stands and non-committal, sexual relationships.
However, actual Tinder users report that they often turn to Tinder in hopes of finding long-term relationships, not just hookups. In fact, many of the users who initially downloaded the app for fun found much more.
Gavin Terziu, a junior majoring in psychology, met his boyfriend of more than a year on Tinder. Terziu first downloaded the app out of boredom and as an attempt to get over a recent breakup.
“I was bored, I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship, and I wanted to meet new people,” Terziu says. “I definitely wasn’t going for a long-term relationship.”
Terziu had never met up with someone on Tinder prior to meeting with his now-boyfriend. Despite initial trepidations about getting catfished, the two went out for a dinner and movie date the day after matching. Terziu explained he had a “gut feeling” about his recent match, and that a pre-date FaceTime session helped assuage his fears of being trolled by a “fake person.”
A few weeks after their initial meetup, the two became official. Terziu credits Tinder with forming the relationship, but acknowledges that the app’s role in their meeting had some disadvantages.
“The only more difficult thing [about meeting via a date as opposed to naturally] is that we were building both a friendship and a relationship at the same time,” Terziu says. “It was really hard for the first few months, just learning how to be good friends to each other and also good boyfriends at the same time.”
Luke Chalmers, a senior studying history, met his current girlfriend two years ago on Tinder and believes that the classification of Tinder as a ‘hookup app’ isn’t quite accurate.
“Tinder has a rep of being just a hookup app,” Chalmers says, “When in reality it’s more or less a way to expand your network, you just throw a broader net.”
Chalmers believes that part of the allure of Tinder is the fact that there are so few expectations for where it could go.
“It’s one of those things where it can be anywhere from no strings attached to something more serious,” Chalmers says. “You can find just about anything on there.”
Alyssa Warner, a junior studying media communication, has used the app on-and-off for about two years. Her friends initially created the account to help her get out of her shell and become more confident in herself, a tactic that 45% of users say also motivates their swiping.
Warner contends that Tinder can be more than just a hookup app, primarily based on the fact that many profiles she sees are explicitly searching for something more.
“I see a lot of people on the app who say that they’re looking for friends or say that they’re not looking for hookups,” Warner says. “I think when Tinder first came out it was really meant to be a dating app. I feel like there are people who use it for more than just hookups.”
For those interested in going beyond hookups, Chalmers believes that the key to success is balancing the line between using the app to enhance your life and letting it become all-consuming.
“Don’t take it too seriously,” Chalmers says. “Don’t become so closed off with the app that you miss stuff in front of you. Use it as a guide, not a roadmap. If you take the app too seriously, you’re going to end up missing the things right in front of you.”