Tinder and The Future of Relationships

I believed I would reach the end of my days never having experienced the phenomenon known as online dating.

Instead, the end of a seven-year relationship (which included calling off a wedding) has thrust me headlong into a fascinating new world.

This post is not about the perils of online dating…trust me there are many.

Instead I want to share something that has occurred to me that is far more complex and interesting.

When I was a younger man (back in the days of wagon wheels and dirt as I tell my children) meeting new people was a hassle. Save for a brave few who placed personal ads in the local newspaper, it was necessary to leave your house in order to seek out the company of other humans.

I suspect one of the effects of this environment was a tendency towards some degree of relationship inertia.

Of course men and women have been challenged with fidelity since, well… always. Still, think about how much time and energy was required to find your next. And if you think dating was challenging, imagine trying to ‘level up’ without your actions being discovered by the current placeholder.

Fast forward to our present day.

Imagine you are out enjoying a nice dinner with a new love interest. Returning from the restroom you approach the table from behind and notice your date using their phone. As you get closer you clearly see her effecting the distinct swipe-left/swipe-right gestures associated with Tinder.

Now imagine yourself a month into this ‘relationship.’

The two of you are enjoying a lazy Sunday on the couch watching movies and drinking mimosas. Getting up to refill your glasses, you glance down at her phone resting on the side table. Several notifications are visible on the screen. One from Tinder reads: ‘You have a new match!’

In this age of near-frictionless top of the funnel activity, do we ever stop looking?

The answer is of course we have always continued to look… either to find something better or to validate what we already have.

For some, the thought of their beloved window-shopping shows up as ‘one foot at the door’ syndrome.

Yet that is only one interpretation of an otherwise innocuous action. This interpretation decries: ‘If you loved me you wouldn’t need to see what else is out there.’

Lately, I have been considering the notion that relationships in the age of Tinder may be more significant and substantial than anytime else in history.

Think about the statement:

In this moment, I have access to an almost endless selection of potential alternatives and in this moment, I choose you.

Does this represent a veiled threat or a powerful expression of fidelity and love?

I wish I knew the answer…

What I do know is that more than lowering the barrier to alternatives, Tinder has forever exposed the truth this is what we have wanted all along.

Contrary to popular belief, progress in general and technology specifically don’t change human behavior; they merely enable it.

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