LOS ANGELES — In recent years, millions of Americans have flocked to sophisticated dating web sites like e-Harmony that promise to create lasting romantic matches based on common interests and underlying emotional compatibility.
But a recent survey conducted by Tinder, the world’s largest dating site, suggests that you’re more likely to find love — and a potential marriage partner — by casually dating someone you find physically attractive than by holding out for the “perfect” mate.
The 5-year old web site surveyed over 9,000 millennials who currently date online, including Tinder subscribers, and compared them with users of other web sites as well as those who only date offline. The survey, entitled “Modern Dating Myths,” examined a range of dating-related issues, including fidelity, communication, perception, and mindfulness.
Tinder found that busy young professionals are in a hurry to connect with prospective partners and don’t always have the time or energy for the Sturm-und-Drang of offline dating. And a growing number feel confident sizing up potential mates based on their physical appearance and demeanor alone rather than on an extended profile of their habits and interests.
“When you are dating online, you actually have a very clear idea of what the marketplace is like,” Jessica Carbino, Tinder’s in-house sociologist argues in a New York Times interview. “You are able to have a visual idea of the pool in front of you, whereas the people who aren’t dating online are simply speculating as to what the pool may be like.”
The Tinder match system is neat and simple. Eager daters receive a cache of photos from would-be tryst partners on their Tinder App. If they like the lead photo, they swipe the image right; if they don’t, they swipe it left. Once the preference is confirmed by both parties, they make a date for a rendezvous.
What happens next is a matter of some debate. Many anecdotal accounts suggest that Tinder is largely a “hook up” site — perfect for arranging sexual liaisons, a claim that Tinder denies. In fact, some female Tinder subscribers – as many as 60%, according to one report — post a “no hook-ups” warning to men seeking one-night stands.
If the new Tinder survey is accurate, the site may be less discouraging of serious relationships than its sometimes tawdry reputation would suggest.
For example, in the survey 30 percent of men who were dating offline said it was “challenging to commit,” but only 9 percent of male Tinder users agreed. The split between female respondents in each survey group was roughly the same.
Another indicator: Tinder users (35 percent) are more likely to say “I love you” within the first three months of dating than offline daters are (30 percent), the survey found.
Offline daters seem to be more bashful, too. In fact, the survey shows that 1 in 5 offline daters wait up to two months before asking a love interest out on a date. And while 52 percent of offline daters say they go on up to two dates a week, the number jumps to 63 percent for the online segment.
John and Casey Napolitano of Sherman Oaks, CA exemplify the mix of charged sexuality and old-fashioned romance that the Tinder experience seems to engender.
In an interview with The New York Times, Casey said she “swiped right” on a photo of her future hubbie in a tuxedo giving a speech at a wedding, and was love-struck. “It just really turned me on,” she said. The happy couple has been married for two years, have bought a house together and are raising a family.
Tinder, of course, has a vested interest in promoting its new survey results. The site has come under fire in the past for being little more than a sexual slot machine.
But some academic surveys are beginning to support Tinder’s findings. For example, American sociologist Michael Rosenfeld has found that online daters, including Tinder subscribers, were just as likely to form lasting bonds as those who had met offline He’s currently designing a study focused specifically on Tinder users.
Undoubtedly, there’s more to love than physical attraction alone, as dating traditionalists insist. But the latest Tinder survey may confirm an old romantic adage: “The eyes are the scout of the heart.”