If our grandparents had to navigate the modern dating world nowadays, they’d probably be very confused and overwhelmed. Heck, the same might be true if our parents had to navigate the dating world today (and some of them do, actually). The internet has completely change the game in ways both good and bad. The first online dating site, Match.com, was created in the 1990s, followed by eHarmony in 2000 and OkCupid in 2004. Just as people were starting to figure out how to date via computer, smartphones came along and blew everything up again. Nowadays, single people in their twenties, thirties, and even forties are expected to be able to look at a photo of a person and decide in five seconds or less if they might want to date him or her.

Swiping and liking

The biggest player in the app dating game is Tinder. Tinder gave us the famous “swipe left” and “swipe right” mechanism. You put in some information about yourself, then some information about the age range and location you’re looking to date in, and you get shown photos of your preferred gender (or genders). If you think the photo and brief profile information is promising, then you swipe right on your phone to indicate approval. If you’re not interested, you swipe left and never have to see that profile again. If the same two people swipe right on each other, then they both get a pop-up saying, “It’s a match!” Then they have the opportunity to message each other and start a conversation. Sometimes that conversation leads to a serious relationship, but Tinder is also known for being a popular site for casual hook-ups.

About three years ago, Tinder introduced Super Likes. Super Likes don’t require a mutual match. Instead, when you swipe up to Super Like someone, they get a notification of the Super Like and are invited to view your profile and see if they might like you as well. It all sounds kind of complicated, but it’s really not terribly hard to find who Super Liked you on Tinder. Disabling Tinder notifications on your phone makes things more difficult, but it can still be done.

The etiquette problem

The idea of a Super Like is controversial. There’s one side that argues that it’s a great way to go the extra mile and get someone’s attention, kind of like sending a drink to an attractive person in a bar. Other people think it’s a bit much and would rather stick with the mutual like model. They think Super Likes are desperate, creepy, or both.

Tinder isn’t the only dating app game in town, however. Since women are way more likely to receive harassing messages from men than vice versa, there’s an app called Bumble that requires women to make first contact. You’re still working within the swipe model, but once there’s a match, the man cannot say anything to the woman. She has to start talking first, and within 24 hours. If she doesn’t, the match expires. If she does, then the man has another 24 hours to respond. Bumble isn’t as popular as Tinder, but it’s a nice option for women who are sick of getting aggressive or overtly sexual messages from men.


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