Final Major Project

Online Dating- the speedy, disposable environment that’s giving millennials a sense of empowerment

“Casual sex is more of a novelty now, it’s sort of become part of the conversation for millennials, it’s become such a casual thing so you’re not actually thinking that there’s another person on the other line or screen,” 28-year-old Allie Abgarian reveals.

Self-confessed ‘serial dater’ Allie, is a sex and relationships writer for Metro Online in London. Part of Allie’s job is to test out and speak to people about the latest trends in the dating world, but before Allie got the job in January 2018 she had already tested out the highs and lows of the dating world for herself.

With the online dating world in full swing and the first dating website, Match.com, being launched in 1995 under a pay-and-date policy, it wasn’t before Allie turned 23 that she was introduced to the site Plenty Of Fish.

“A friend of mine signed me up and it was more of a ‘you’re single, let’s have a bit of fun with it’, like most people do,” recalls Allie.

By 2015, Allie was introduced to a new dating app, Tinder. She laughs. “When I first signed up to Tinder, I had about 10 dates in the space of two weeks because I wanted to try a load of dates!”

In fact, during a recent survey carried out for this article, 63.6% of people voted the app as their most used, just in front of Bumble, whereas apps such as Match.com, Plenty Of Fish, Happn, e-harmony, Love Struck, Dating Direct and Grindr were all significantly lower.

Dating App statistics from our recent survey

But it wasn’t before long that she met her boyfriend of two years and entered into a serious relationship, as a result giving herself a break from the online dating world.

When Allie broke up from her long-term relationship, she decided to get back in the dating game.

It was then that she began to immerse herself in all things online dating, by going on more and more dates for fun, which she could set up with the click of a button.

Allie admits she finds it hard to put a number on how many dates she has been on since taking the plunge into e-romance.

“I mean it sort of depends on what you qualify as a date as well!” she explains.

To Allie ‘going for a drink’ wouldn’t necessarily qualify as a date, as she finds that a lot more casual than a strict date setup.

According to statistics supplied by dating-focused social networking service, Badoo, from a recent survey, their user’s are spending just under 90 minutes a day using their dating app alone and 7 to 9 minutes per session.

But what is driving this dating app craze?

In our survey, the general consensus was that it was more accessible, broadened the search, gave the user self confidence and was quick to do whilst doing day-to-day tasks.

One person, who would prefer to remain anonymous, commented: “It’s almost an easy out now for lots of people. Instead of building up the courage and talking to someone in person they can just lie in bed and swipe.

“It goes against human biology and is extremely unhealthy.”

However Allie perceives a problem with the ease of such hook-ups that can allow partners to be dishonest about their intentions.

This is something that she’s not only looked into on a professional level, but experienced herself in and out of the online world.

She appears disheartened by her findings that people don’t want to say what they are looking for, whether that be a ‘hook-up’ or a serious relationship.

“Dating apps aside, I went naked speed dating a few weeks ago and there was a guy I met there and we sort of hooked-up.

“When I spoke to him after he was like ‘oh by the way, I’ve just broken up with my girlfriend and I’m not looking for anything’. My thought was why would you go to a speed ‘dating’ event!”

Investing so much time in the online dating world through her work as well as personally, Allie has become dispirited by the culture that dating apps have created.

From her own research she has found that dating through apps is somewhat a waste of time, as the connection you form whilst chatting might not be the reality when you come to meet them.

“I believe it’s about chemistry, so if the chemistry isn’t there then you’ve essentially wasted however many weeks you’ve spent talking to someone.”

However, many young men and women argue that when using dating apps they feel a sense of empowerment, as they can have their pick of suitors.

Allie explains, “It is empowering because it feels good for sure, and in terms of beIng a woman it’s brilliant because traditionally it has always been for men to take the first step and now you can do it.”

Vena Ramphal, 44, a sex and relationship expert, who has given advice to a host of celebrities, as well as recently featuring on Channel 4’s dating show Seven Year Switch, believes that the problem with the online dating world at the moment is the sense of disposability it is creating for millennials.

Dating apps are creating a sense of disposability

“Because people can just swipe and it’s one movement of the finger, what I’ve discovered is that attitude actually then translates into the way that they interact with each other when they meet up in real life.

“That is a problem because it does create the sense of disposability.”

She suggests this can be problematic as this speedy online environment is creating a false sense of empowerment for young men and women.

“It’s not really an empowerment because actually on a hormonal and a chemical level it’s just an adrenaline rush and when something is just that it’s never empowering,” she explains.

According to a family lawyer who spoke to the Daily Mail in January, there had been a ‘50 per cent increase in enquiries triggered by married people who have caught their spouses browsing dating apps such as Tinder’.

Vena agrees with this fact and can see how using dating apps at a young age could result in behavioural problems when forming relationships down the line.

“I think because it’s new territory, it’s almost like the language is changing. It’s almost different to communicating in real life or communicating verbally.

“I think that’s important because I think there’s something built into the changing style of communication that allows people to drop their normal, established sense of boundaries.”

During a recent interview with The Telegraph, Vena discussed how it was important for couples to nurture romance and that she advises her clients to sit down and write an old fashioned love letter rather than use technology, to express their love and emotions.

She reveals, “I get people to get out the pen and paper because I think it helps them go into that mode of thinking and of connecting with their deeper emotions and thinking about what they want to say and really composing it very carefully.”

Taking a moment to reflect, Allie admits that since she began using the apps and sites they aren’t as appealing as they used to be because of the change in culture and as an extravert prefers traditional face-to-face dating.

Now, at nearly 29, Allie is looking for something a bit more serious but despite her busy schedule still tries to meet people in bars, cafés and out and about, rather than through dating apps.

“I don’t really spend a lot of time on them, not anymore anyway. A couple of times a day I would check and see if there were messages, but I got bored.

“Lately because of the increase of hook-ups and because it’s sort of shifted the dating culture as a whole, like ghosting for instance, people don’t talk anymore and say sorry I don’t like you, they just don’t talk to you because there’s no repercussion.

“I think talking to someone in real life is more empowering because it takes balls!”

Allie believes it is ultimately down to the chemistry between two people when they meet that forms a meaningful connection and urges anyone currently involved in the dating world or looking to enter into it to stay honest with what you want from it and keep an open mind.

“I think the most important thing honestly is to enjoy it and if you’re not enjoying it then not to use them.

“Be careful and be honest with yourself and whoever might be on the other side of the screen.”

 

Vena Ramphal’s top tips for online dating

 

NEXT: ‘Sugar Arrangements’- the growing popularity of the modern day transactional relationship

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