Looking for love on Tinder (the new “gateway drug” of online dating)

Over the past three months I’ve been on Match, OkCupid and most recently, Tinder.

As the founder of a forthcoming online dating site, I have a two-part interest in using these sites.

Obviously I’m in it for the fun of dating, the potential to meet Mr. Right, and yes, I’ll admit, the free dinners can be nice sometimes. But they also serve as a great research tool. (The sites, not the men!)

Rather than talk about my actual dating experiences, it’s time to unleash some curious findings about the dating app that has spread like wildfire this year.

Did you know that Match, OkCupid and Tinder are all owned by the same corporation? Yup, true story. IAC (IACI on Nasdaq), a publicly-held company based in New York City, owns over 20 dating sites including OurTime.com, Chemistry.com and BlackPeopleMeet.com (technically under the parent company Match.com, Inc). Which means IAC can share knowledge and potentially even data between sites, resulting in better membership conversion rates and higher revenues across the board. Pretty smart if you ask me.

Here’s another brilliant move by IAC: Word on the street is that Tinder was created as a “gateway drug” to get younger college-aged kids acquainted with online dating. It makes sense because IAC knows that people who have used dating services in the past are more likely to use (and pay for) services in the future. Plus it totally feels like a game—and who doesn’t like to be entertained?

Tinder’s reputation initially fell into the “hook-up app” category due to nature of the location-based service. Using Tinder’s “recommendations” feature, you are shown an endless slew of profile pictures of nearby singles in your age range. All you can do is look at their photos (4 max.) and see if you have mutual friends/interest (which are pulled from Facebook), then you swipe left for “no” or swipe right for “yes”. There’s no skipping or going back to change your mind. If there’s a mutual match, you get a notification. Then you can start chatting just like you’re texting each other but via the app itself.

It’s a little weird because you have ZERO background on these people. Obviously it’s pretty much solely based on looks. So what do you say to them?

Well…if you’re on it for the hook-up nature, just meet up for a drink and see if there’s chemistry. Easy peasy.

Yup. That happened.

If you’re interested in actually dating someone, then a little getting-to-know-you conversation ensues. I’ve gone down that road with 10-15 guys but each time I got bored with the conversations and since I didn’t know a thing about them (due to the super-sparse profile information) I let things fizzle. The whole experience seems more like an ego boost than anything.

My biggest complaint about Tinder? Even though I set my desired age range to 30-40 year old men, 80% of my “recommendations” are between 18-26. WTF?

Here’s the bottom line: as Tinder’s popularity rises and older age ranges join in on the fun, I’m hearing more and more actual dating success stories (and of course the hook-up usage is still going strong). My guess is it also acts as a “gateway drug” for 30-somethings who wouldn’t normally commit to a typical dating site. I did see some of the same people from OkCupid and Match, but the majority was new, fresh meat 😉

I’d love to hear other people’s Tinder stories—the good, the bad and the ugly!

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