Online dating keyboard

Tinder users still swiping yes to long-term relationships

27 September 2016

New research from the Department of Media and Communications has found people who use dating apps are just as likely to seek long-term love.

“The social stigma that was once associated with online forms of dating is also breaking down, as more people embrace the technology.”
Dr Mitchell Hobbs, Department of Media and Communications

It seems the death of the monogamous long-term relationship, thanks to Tinder and other dating applications, has been greatly exaggerated, new research from the University of Sydney has found.

Contrary to reports online dating apps, such as Tinder, OKCupid and Grindr, are creating a “hook-up” culture of short-term relationships, the study instead found the apps were simply facilitating people’s search for long-term love.

The research, published in the Journal of Sociologylooked at the online dating habits of 365 people, mostly aged below 30, and found more than half used the apps to find dates, while only a quarter of respondents reported using the apps for purely sexual encounters.

Furthermore, the study found almost three quarters of users were just as inclined to seek a monogamous relationship since taking their search for love online, with a further 14 percent saying they were more inclined to seek monogamy since using the technology. 

Tinder was by far the most popular application with 84 percent of respondents having used it, followed by OKCupid at 30 percent.

Lead author of the study, Dr Mitchell Hobbs from the University’s Department of Media and Communications, said his research showed the negative hype surrounding dating apps bringing about the end of romance was wrong.

“Most people are not using the technology merely for increased sexual promiscuity, but are in fact seeking to find a potential longer-term partner,” he said.

“Dating apps are also making it easier for people to meet like-minded individuals. This is especially important for individuals who don’t have the time, or the inclination, to meet people in sites of traditional matchmaking, such as bars and clubs.”

Man using a dating app

Two-thirds of the survey respondants say they'd prefer to meet potential partners face-to-face. Image: iStock/PJPhoto69

The study also explored why people used the apps, with users saying they enjoyed the convenience of connecting with a large group of people at once and the efficiency of the technology, as people were less likely to waste others’ time.

Others reported they enjoyed the sense of control they had over their dating lives, and the ability to get to know someone prior to meeting them.

However, the study also found the apps encouraged a small number to look outside their relationships.

“Of those survey respondents who indicated that they were in a relationship, 10 percent said that they had used the technology to engage in a sexual affair, with a subsequent question revealing that most felt that they would not have ‘cheated’ on their partners had the apps not made it so easy to do so,” Dr Hobbs said.

Ultimately, while almost two thirds of the survey respondents said they would prefer to find love via a traditional face-to-face encounter, many believed that technology was increasingly being seen as a “legitimate” means of meeting a partner, something Dr Hobbs agreed with. 

“The social stigma that was once associated with online forms of dating is also breaking down, as more people embrace the technology,” he said.

“The technology thrives because it is useful, and will die when it no longer offers pathways to connect and communicate that are advantageous to users. Remembering this is important as dating apps provide merely the potential to facilitate real-life sexual and romantic encounters.” 

Annika Dean

Assistant Media and PR Adviser (Humanities and Social Sciences)