Dating apps foster long-term, satisfying relationships, study finds

Dating apps and web sites, including Tinder, don't negatively impact the quality of relationships they initiate, a new study has found. Photo by solenfeyissa/Pixabay
Dating apps and web sites, including Tinder, don't negatively impact the quality of relationships they initiate, a new study has found. Photo by solenfeyissa/Pixabay

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Dating app users are more likely to find lasting love than fleeting relationships, according to a study published Wednesday by the journal PLOS ONE.

Based on data from a 2018 survey of dating app users in Switzerland, app-formed couples have stronger cohabitation intentions than couples who meet offline, the researchers said.


In addition, partners who met via dating apps express the same level of satisfaction about their relationship as other couples, and are more diverse in terms of educational and geographic background, according to the researchers.

"The Internet is profoundly transforming the dynamics of how people meet," study co-author Gina Potarca said in a statement.

However, although "large parts of the media claim [apps] have a negative impact on the quality of relationships ... there has been no evidence to prove this is the case," said Potarca, a researcher at the University of Geneva's Institute of Demography and Socioeconomics in Switzerland.


More than 30 million people in the United States have used a dating site or app, with more than one-third preferring the app approach, according to estimates from Pew Research.

Many data sites and apps have reported increased traffic in recent months, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen stay-at-home orders issued and bars and restaurants, traditional meeting places for fledgling couples, closed, an analysis by the Brookings Institution revealed.

For this study, Potarca and her colleagues analyzed data from a 2018 family survey by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, focusing on a sample of 3,235 people 18 years old and older who were in a relationship and who had met their partner in the past 10 years.

Among survey respondents, dating websites primarily attract people over age 40 and divorcees looking for romance, according to the researchers.

However, younger adults appear to be turned off by the lengthy questionnaires, bios and personality tests required by these sites, preferring the photo- and general personality trait-based approach of mobile apps, the researchers said.

In addition, although they were less interested in committing time to online dating, couples that formed after meeting on an app were more motivated by the idea of cohabiting than others, the data showed.


Women in couples that formed through dating apps mentioned wanting and planning to have a child in the near future, more so than with any other way of meeting, the researchers said.

Couples in the survey were equally satisfied with their lives and the quality of their relationships, regardless of whether they met through an app or not, according to the researchers.

Partners who met via apps have more diversified socio-educational profiles, which "may have to do with selection methods that focus mainly on the visual," Potarca said.

Because app users can easily connect with partners both in their immediate region and elsewhere, apps make it easier to meet people more than 30 minutes away, leading to an increase in long-distance relationships, she said.

"Knowing that dating apps have likely become even more popular during this year's periods of lockdown and social distancing, it is reassuring to dismiss alarming concerns about the long-term effects of using these tools," Potarca said.

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