Swipe-based dating apps 'a lot like gambling'

Swipe-based dating apps 'a lot like gambling'
PHOTO: Mashable

Meeting the right guy has changed with dating apps, although some say the addictive nature of swiping left in search of someone “better” leaves no-one happy. But never settle for second best, says Sharon Lim.

One of the downsides of a swipe-based dating app is that it’s a lot like gambling—we, the punters, are always looking for the next big win, but everyone knows the house wins every single time.

Singapore is really, really small, a fact I once again confirmed one evening, as I idly swiped through Tinder while getting ready for a dinner party. A familiar-looking guy popped up and Tinder was telling me he was "0 km" from me-what?! And then it hit me: OMFG, it was my neighbour from two doors down! I quickly swiped left. Needless to say, it got a little #awkward for a while whenever we ran into each other outside our flats.

So yes, Singapore is small. But Tinder has made the world that much smaller since it launched in 2012. It was the first of

the location-based "swiping" dating apps that now includes

Bumble, Happn and Coffee Meets Bagel, and changed the way "traditional" dating websites work on mobiles. OkCupid's "Browse Matches" function, for example, is based on that by-now-familiar swiping algorithm.

Read also: The hottest people on Tinder are using a secret version of the app

But has the dating pool correspondingly expanded? I'd say a qualified yes. I've swiped right on and matched with guys in Singapore, across the Causeway and all over the world, some of whom I would totally date if we were in the same city. But since we're several time zones apart, they've been inevitably friendzoned, if either party hasn't ghosted first.

That said, J., a guy I matched with on Tinder, has set himself a daily chat challenge that he has managed to keep going since we matched in September last year.We met, sparks flew, but he's not based here.

He has plans to relocate here in the next few months, but in the meantime we're managing the time difference by making an effort to stay connected daily. It's cute when I'm caught up with work and I get a message from him at 1pm his time: "???? Have you forgotten about me?"

How long can we keep this up? I honestly don't know. I'm not usually one for long-distance relationships: I've got a full, busy life as it is and while I would love to be with someone, it's essential that he is physically present. Of course, we know or know of women who have met guys living overseas on a dating app and-long story short-are now happily coupled and/or married. That takes a lot of work, patience and a willingness to meet halfway.

That's the wonderful thing about dating apps and meeting people in the virtual realm. There are that many more potential matches who could be your significant other. And distance isn't an issue, at least not initially. But Tinder, with its seemingly endless options, has changed the dating game-some say for the worse.


We're in the middle of "Tinder and the Dawn of the 'Dating Apocalypse'," according to a viral article on the impact of the dating app. It's been said that we don't date anymore, we app instead. The thinking is that while apps like Tinder are meant to defuse the blow of rejection by matching people who have expressed a mutual like for each other, the trouble comes because of how the sexes approach #tindering. Men swipe right on everyone, see what matches come up and pursue multiple possibilities. Women tend to be more selective and swipe right only on guys they think have potential.

Read also: Grab finds a match in Tinder

Surprise! Isn't this the age-old difference between the sexes, anyway? Men are programmed to sow their seed as far and as wide as possible, while women are hardwired to keep one mate. When men are swipe-happy, women can get overwhelmed with attention, making them choosier. This makes men even more desperate, and even less discerning. Women, on the other hand, tend to swipe right when they are serious about connecting.

Few of us have the energy and focus to do what my girlfriend, C., a serial Tinderella, does. She is the Michael Phelps of Tindering: She has been known to go on three dates in one evening-pre-dinner drinks, dinner and post-dinner drinks. I believe her when she tells me she's been on 300 Tinder first dates in a year.

Decluttering her smartphone recently, she discovered she had over 400 guys with the surname Tinder in her Contacts list. It's amazing she can remember anyone. She tells me she refers to notes that she keeps on each of the guys. "Eats his own boogers" was a memorable dud.

But what happens when you match with someone but neither of you is bothered to do anything about it? I believe women are as guilty as men. I've a bunch of Tinder matches that I have never contacted and don't intend to, because I've already moved on. And I'm pretty sure they already have, too.

One of the downsides of a swipe-based dating app is that it's a lot like gambling-we, the punters, are always looking for the next big win, but everyone knows the house wins every single time. Tinder has been likened to a fantasy game, a smartphone version of the icebreaker game "F*ck, chuck, marry."

So it's not surprising that Tinder is one of the leading hookup apps in the world, and not just for men. It has replaced the bar scene as a hunting ground for those in search of instant gratification-and that is perfectly fine with me. We're all adults and be it in real life at, say, Zouk Wine Bar back in the day or on your smartphone right now, these possibilities exist all the same. The choice is yours. Choose responsibly or irresponsibly: It's up to you and what you're after.


Tinder has changed my dating life. As a journalist and ex-editor, most of the men I meet aren't what I would consider boyfriend material. Who am I after? Someone who is my partner in crime and my equal, someone I can grow old with. It's not much different from what most of us want.

And so I view dating apps like Tinder as tools to meet people I will never normally meet (normal being relative here, of course). I think with dating apps, both sexes are now more blase about asking someone out and it's not a bad thing: Has human nature been changed by an app? Men and women have been behaving this way before dating apps happened. We will make mistakes; continue to meet and date the wrong people. We will have issues with monogamy. But we will still want relationships. Just swipe to decide-and if that guy from your morning run looks vaguely familiar, remember to swipe left.You can always ask for his number in the lift if he looks cute up-close.

Taken from Harper's BAZAAR Singapore, full story inside the March 2017 issue. Bold, Opulent and Provocative, Harper's BAZAAR Singapore is now available in both print and digital formats.

Visit www.harpersbazaar.com.sg for more.

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