The Dating App Problem That No One Talks About


Even though dating apps are most popular among millennials, according to a recent Bustle survey with dating app Happn of over 1,000 dating app users, 78 percent of women and 85 percent of men still want to meet people IRL. That's why for the second year in a row, Bustle is deeming April, "App-less April" and encouraging our staff and readers to delete their dating apps for 30 days and meet people the old-fashioned way: offline. With participants tracking their progress and tricks and tips from dating experts, we'll be helping you feel empowered to meet people IRL all month long. Today's topic: Francesca Hogi, dating and life coach, reveals what nobody talks about when they talk about dating apps.

You're doing everything you're supposed to. You've picked the perfect array of photos, showing how fun, attractive, well-traveled and quirky you are. After a few rewrites, you've settled on the perfect bio — funny, but not trying too hard to be funny. Plus, you’ve causally included enough basic info about yourself that the reader gets a glimpse into your personality.

And of course, you've swiped. Endlessly, it might seem. You've made countless matches and some of them have even resulted in real life dates. A few of those dates weren't terrible! But with all of that, you're still stuck in a cycle of swipe-match-swipe.

If you’re like most online daters, you alternate between the high of matching with a great profile and the low of feeling like you’re totally wasting your time. Maybe you even blame yourself for your lack of dating app success. But here's the thing no one tells you — the frustrating dating app cycle is not your fault.

No one talks about how the apps are actually designed to work. Dating apps can be a great resource to meet new people, but their only consistent benefit is the dopamine hit you feel when you make a new match. The truth is, while there are strategies you can use to make dating app success more likely (and of course there's good old-fashioned luck), your frustration is not accidental. It's by design. That's right — dating apps are not designed to help everyone find love.

What no one tells you is that if you and everyone else found their perfect match and deleted their dating apps tomorrow, that would be very, very bad news for the apps.

In order to make money, dating apps need users — lots of them. It's a lot cheaper for them to keep you in your endless swipe cycle than for you to meet the love of your life tomorrow. It sounds cynical, but it’s true. Your success would require the apps to find a new hopeful single to replace you. It isn’t that the apps are run by sadists. It’s an inherent conflict in any online dating business — of course they need some people to be successful at finding love in order for them to remain credible. But at the same time, they need to dangle the possibility — only the possibility — of love in front of many more.

But don’t worry — all hope is not lost. Dating apps present themselves as the best way to meet someone special, but that’s simply not the case. The vast majority of people — 88 percent — still meet their partners offline. If you’re serious about finding love, your best strategy is to use apps as a supplement to your dating efforts and not to use them as your only avenue to meeting potential matches.

One of my favorite things about online dating is that it demonstrates how many single people are all around you — those folks in your local area on Tinder are actually in your local area. It’s a good reminder that every time you leave your house you have the possibility of meeting your someone special. You can go out and find them in the wild! It might take some extra effort to switch up your approach so that you’re meeting more people IRL, but it’s well worth it.

Happy dating!

Francesca Hogi is a dating and life coach based in Brooklyn. Learn more at

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