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However, as dating apps come to facilitate not just one-night stands and mindless conversations but increasingly relationships and would-be relationships, a strange ecosystem has arisen.One where an increasing number of young people are relying on dating apps, which are designed like games and which exist to make money, to help them form serious relationships. “Nobody joins Tinder because they’re looking for something,” Rad told Time in 2014. It doesn’t even matter if you match because swiping is so fun.” It’s 2019, and people are having a lot of fun.The percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds (single or otherwise) dating online nearly tripled between 20, rising from 10 per cent to 27 per cent And for many, dating apps are becoming more than just a game.“I feel like I do have some weird sense of obligation to meet someone,” he says.“Even though this is the longest I’ve ever been single and it’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been.” Tiffany, a 22-year-old who works for a travel startup, agrees that dating apps make it more difficult to be content in single life.“It’s funny,” she says, “because being single is your natural state but being in a relationship is an add-on to you, so it’s quite odd that the reverse is considered more unusual.” While dating apps enable us to bypass the serendipity of “true love” and instead to actively seek the perfect relationship, what keeps many of us engaged, once drawn in, is a phenomenon that breeds inefficiency in the search.The psychologist Michael Zeiler found in 1971 that pigeons peck at a button nearly twice as much when it produces food pellets at an unpredictable frequency than when the rewards are foreseeable.
“The pressure to be in relationships,” Swami says, “and the perception that there is something ‘wrong’ with remaining single, can create a drive or need to be on dating apps.” But far from easing the discontent of being single, many young people feel that dating apps have amplified it.
Alex Durrant, who runs the dating app Jig Talk, believes dating apps shift their priority when they move from a growth mindset to a focus on revenue.
“In the early stages, when there are high growth periods,” Durrant says, “dating apps need to work; they need a real positive impact in the early stage.
It is true that many very unhappy people are single: more than 41 per cent of UK adults who report the lowest levels of well-being.
, in which he describes love and marriage as “narrative traps”.