The adoption of technology has changed the way we connect and converse with others in our society and dating is no exception. The prevalence of smart phones mean we are always contactable, social media allows others to get to know us before we have even met, and dating apps give us an abundance of choice in a suitable partner or partners.
This article focuses on how technology has changed dating.
The Dating Game
How did your parents meet? Mine met on a double blind date in which my mother and father had mutual friends who introduced them. With the invention of social media it is difficult to imagine anyone going on a blind date again—why would they need to? We not only have a wealth of information on pretty much everyone only a click away but how and where we meet future partners is changing. Before the influx of online dating, meeting partners was pretty much resigned to work, through friends or out on a Saturday night. As a youth, I would look forward to the weekend just so I could meet a new batch of ladies to attempt to woo.
With the arrival of dating apps there has been a change in how many of us are finding our partners and indeed what we are looking for. Let’s for example take the app Tinder. Tinder lets you search for single people in your area looking to meet for dating or any other activity you could care to mention. I was watching this video in which a cross section of people, were asked to use Tinder to find people they would go on a date with. What they found is that people’s response to their love life was much more optimistic once they had used Tinder. They cited the reason being similar to game mechanics. If you like someone and they don’t like you, well then on to the next one. There is no fear of failure because for every one or two rejections you get one or two matches. This is a game that you can keep playing until you win. However, this can lead you to feel as if potential partners are expendable. As you know that there are more people out there who you might be a match with. Why limit yourself to one match when you can have 10? Or why settle for one partner when you have access to plenty?
Looking at my article How Technology is changing your love life excessive choice can have ramifications further down the line in terms of our attitudes towards not only our partners (expendability of our relationships) but also in terms the scale we seek validation, (the expectation and normalization of praise from many rather than just a few). Dr. Letamendi says in Time magazine, “Now that we can interact with hundreds – no thousands – of people simultaneously, we’ve strengthened the impact that others have on our self-value.”
The Dating GAME
Not only is there a lack of vulnerability but the nature of ‘the game’ is similar to other games or indeed social media. Every time we get a notification we get a little buzz of excitement. Studies have shown that the randomness of the notification, Random Reward causes a little spike of dopamine (the brain’s feel good drug) to be secreted. Just think how integral these random notifications are when online dating, a new message, another match, someone you want to talk to coming online. And remember it is not just one person we are talking to now but we can speak to 100s of potential partners.
So, I would argue, we are not only getting validation from the attention from potential partners, but the game aspect can actually make us addicted to this type of dating through the random notifications, which spike our dopamine.
Let’s not forget the convince and time saved when looking for a potential partner online.
In an interview by Franklin Bradley, CEO & Founder, TryCupid.com was asked Are they better off[for relying on online dating]? His response was:
“Probably not, but perhaps. Many of us feel the process of elimination should be done face to face…for others, however, it’s all about saving time and money. With those criteria, the Internet is a clear winner. Until someone mentions the old adage…you get what you pay for.”
Meeting someone used to be a unique experience in itself. The story of meeting to be regaled throughout one’s relationship, the look, the spark, the connection which defined the early stages of the relationship. It seems now that has been lost in favour of choice, time and convenience. Technology has made our world faster passed and people want to spend as little time as possible looking for someone. They want dating to work around their lives in a time efficient way. Taking a way the organic human nature of meeting someone in favour of ticking the ‘relationship’ box.
It seems then that internet dating gives the whole notion of dating and love a dehumanising state. The game and time-saving efficient nature of online dating has become more important than actually finding a partner. As Carole Lieberman’s book says in her book Bad Boys. Dating has changed from a “romantic serendipitous meeting to a virtual shopping spree”.
With all this being said what are the consequences for us later in our relationship?