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Have hookup apps killed digital dating stigma?

"We’re all really lazy and don't wanna go out. At the end of the day, I’d rather just sit on my couch and choose my dates.”


Gabriela Barkho


Posted on Sep 17, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 2:07 pm CDT

All it takes is a “like,” a poke, or a swipe to begin the back and forth of getting to know someone, and possibly finding romance in the process. In particular with the matchmaking app of the moment, Tinder, which has been said to encourage so-called “hookup” culture with its geographical location feature and photo-based user accounts. All it takes is a quick flick of your thumb to find your next happy ending, or potential partner.

Bios and pictures soon become a blur as you flip through, quickly judging the crop of potential acquaintances. Soon, it seems your swipes set in on autopilot as first impressions garner either a swipe right (Yes! A match) or left (I’ll pass) response.

Despite the ubiquity of online dating and hookup apps, it’s easy to forget that finding romance on the Internet still carries a social stigma.

“100 percent going to lie about how we met,” read an account bio I recently came across on Tinder.

The profile’s owner, 27-year-old RJ LoCurto, explained his blunt tag line, citing the fear of coming across as shallow for even considering online dating in the first place.

“By using the app, it’s like I’m admitting I’m superficial and only care about someone’s personality once I’ve already deemed them attractive, based solely on appearance,” said LoCurto, who downloaded Tinder after seeing a friend using it at a bar.

Regardless of the shallowness factor, young people are finding love on the Internet daily. Having come across quite a few “Tinder couples” lately, including some of my closest friends, the first concern that comes to mind usually is the judgement they may face in the aftermath.

“It’s not the most romantic ‘how we met’ story. It says something about you; that you’re willing to tell people ‘we both swiped right’ seems superficial,” LoCurto explained of his skepticism. “So it’s like saying ‘I found this person attractive and we only started talking once we’ve both agreed we are.’”

With more people downloading Tinder everyday, we may have forgotten that we’d have to eventually tell our friends and family how and where we met our new partners.

So what happens after you meet that someone, delete the apps in question, and you get ready to start a relationship? Do you tell the truth and laugh it off knowing that technology enhanced (really, created) your romantic life, or do you make up a story to save yourself social media-spawned shame?

For those who have found romantic success online, in particular while swiping through Tinder, the experience is a liberating and an easy-going one.

Keith Glenday, a young professional who recently met his current girlfriend through Tinder, says he didn’t resort to online dating out of frustration but out of curiosity to see what’s out there, as he normally prefers to meet women organically.

“I went on Tinder because a guy I knew met a girl through it who I thought was a total rock star: educated, pretty, good personality – I thought I’d be crazy not to try it. I went on the next day and met Gordyn, my girlfriend, the following week.”

This “Tinder relationship” trend isn’t too rare these day, as 24-year-old Vivienne, who preferred not to disclose her last name, echoed a similar sentiment. She explained that the main reason she gave online dating a chance was to meet men in her new city after moving last year.

“It’s the perfect way to kill time. I’d just moved to Hoboken and I thought it was the perfect way to meet guys shamelessly and casually.”

Despite encountering guys she calls the “typical Tinder assholes” at first, Vivienne decided to keep swiping her luck until she met her current boyfriend, Alex. They even “ceremoniously deleted” their apps from their phones at the same time.

As for the awkwardness she faced when people asked her how she met her boyfriend?

“With people our age it was fine, but with my coworkers, I would always hear them say it’s the ‘hookup app,’” Vivienne said. “It’s what you make of it. I think people misunderstand it. I told my mom off the get-go, and she thought it was hilarious. She understood I just wanted to go on dates.”

For the judgmental types among us, she says it’s no different than going up to talk to someone you find attractive at a bar.

“I think we’re just as superficial as we’ve ever been. Looks are always important no matter how we meet someone. We’re all really lazy and don’t wanna go out. At the end of the day, I’d rather just sit on my couch and choose my dates.”

Vivienne’s boyfriend Alex, who was new to the world of Internet romance when they started dating, said he has no problem telling others how the duo met, and even showed the app to his parents when they asked.

And for those who are hesitant about trying dating on the Internet? Glenday has some words of encouragement for them.

“I do tell people to try to vet matches as much as possible before meeting people, or at least until it feels right. Connecting on Tinder is a non-event, you make what you want of it. It’s up to you if it’s a dating site, or hookup site, or whatever.”


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*First Published: Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 am CDT