Are Dating Apps Worth It?

Dating apps have forever changed how we meet people. Almost everyone is on Tinder, Bumble, or Hinge these days.

But are dating apps worth it?

We now have access to a “buffet” of romantic options. But at the same time, happiness levels seem to have gone down.

Learn about the pros and cons of dating apps, what alternatives exist, and how to flirt with strangers in person.


Here are the pros of using dating apps.

Less Anxiety

Dating apps take the anxiety out of dating.

Instead of having to walk up to someone at a bar and risk getting rejected, you simply send someone a message. If they don’t respond — no harm done.

Also, there is “probable cause.” You feel justified reaching out to this person, as they already matched you.

The fact that dating apps reduce anxiety primarily appeals to men. In most instances, it is still men who are expected to make the first move. They are the ones at risk of getting rebuffed.

But is that really a positive?

I would argue it’s a good thing for men to take a risk. It builds character. And it is an even better thing to learn how to deal with rejection. Life is full of it.

When you take the easy way (online dating), you rob yourself of the chance to develop that edge. You become dependent on some weird app on your phone.

Less Risk

Dating apps provide a safe environment.

With an anonymous dating profile, there is no chance of someone stalking you or physically harming you.

It also allows you to pre-filter. If a suitor is acting weird, you can just sort them out right away, without having to meet them.

The fact that dating apps reduce risk primarily appeals to women. As they are not as physically strong as men, they are the ones at risk of being overpowered.

So, that’s a pro, right?

Again, I am not so sure.

You can’t hide behind your screen forever. There are sexual predators out there, and sooner or later, you will come in contact with them.

Who do you think will be better equipped to deal with them? The overprotected child-woman? Or the shrewd adult who has encountered this kind of situation before?


A major pro of dating apps is convenience.

In the past, you would first have to take a shower and get ready, then drive somewhere, and then spend hours at a loud bar surrounded by drunks.

Now, you can flirt away while sitting on your couch in your pajamas.

Saving Time

Dating apps make it easier for people with hectic lives to meet someone.

You can just take out your phone between meetings and swipe left or right for five minutes. Stuck in line at the supermarket? Drop that hottie on Bumble a message.

Also, you can filter for no-nos. If you know that you would never date a smoker, the app won’t show you these people. This will spare you a lot of pointless interactions.

Less Awkwardness

Dating apps reduce awkwardness.

If you are on a date with somebody and realize they are doing nothing for you, it can be tricky to let them down. They are right there in your face.

With a dating app, because of the physical distance, that’s much easier. You just send them a quick text — done. If necessary, you can also block them. You don’t need to deal with their reproaches.

Many people don’t even bother with that. They will just ghost the other person. It might not be the nice thing to do, but it certainly is convenient.

Also, people are less likely to take it personally. With the high competition on dating apps, they will expect some setbacks.

Location Independence

Dating apps give you access to a much larger geographical dating pool.

Where before you were restricted to the people in your city, you can now flirt with people from all over the world.

However, it is a bit of a theoretical advantage.

Unless you are in a position to travel, most people won’t be interested. Why would they waste their time on somebody they are never going to meet?

You can do “pipelining,” though.

When you know you will go on a trip soon, you can explore the local dating scene in advance and get some matches. Once you arrive there, you already have some dates lined up.


Here are the cons of using dating apps.


On most dating apps, you communicate via text messages. But by only relying on the written word, you are missing out on non-verbal cues — their facial expressions, their tonality, their body language.

As a result, it is easy to misunderstand each other. Without context, something that was meant as a funny remark might now be perceived as an insult.

Also, many people are lazy when it comes to writing. They will not explain themselves enough. That, too, will lead to misunderstandings.

No Spark

In dating, how something is said is often more exciting than what is said.

That little smirk. That twinkle in their eyes. That suggestive pause.

It’s those things that create sexual tension.

But when using a dating app, it is impossible to recreate that live experience. An interaction that should be exciting now becomes mechanical. Dating apps kill the spark.

Time Sink

Dating apps are a massive time sink.

When you are writing back and forth with multiple people, this can easily take up hours each day.

That might be justifiable if all of these interactions led somewhere. But most of them don’t.

Many people on Tinder & Co. have no intention of ever meeting up. They just enjoy the attention.

They might also find it interesting to gauge their sexual market value. They get to see whom they can get with. It’s a game.

So, a large number of the people you are writing back and forth with will never come out, no matter what you do. And should you actually meet up, in many instances, it will turn out that you have no sexual chemistry in real life.

All these hours — for nothing.


So, you matched somebody on Tinder and it seems like you have a great connection. But then, without warning, they disappear.

To be fair, this also happens in real life. You go on a few dates, and at some point, the other person stops responding to your texts.

But dating apps make it easier. Because you never met, people will feel even less of an obligation to let you know what is going on.

Inaccurate Pictures

I have a good-looking friend who matches a lot of women on Tinder. He will regularly let me how many exciting first dates he has lined up. But then, almost every single time, I get this post-date message:

“She didn’t look anything like in her pictures.”

It is not just him.

I have heard this story hundreds of times from various friends and clients. People put up pictures in which they were 10 years younger and/or 20 pounds lighter. Also, many photoshop their pictures on top of that.

Dating apps are a grab bag. You don’t know what you will get.

The Algorithm

With dating apps, you are getting played by the algorithm.

Dating apps make their money through paid subscriptions and display ads. Therefore, the algorithm will try to keep you on the platform as long as possible. You finding love and leaving the app is not a good outcome.

For example, the algorithm will give you a few good matches early on to get you hooked. But then the matches stop. For the dopamine hits to continue, you must pay for a premium membership.

Of course, that’s the good right of the platform owners. They are running a business, not a charity.

But personally, I would rather be in control of my dating life than be at the mercy of some data leech.

It’s Not the Same for Everybody

The experience on dating apps is not the same for everybody. Depending on what demographic you belong to, you might have a more positive or negative experience.

The starkest difference is between men and women. Women, especially attractive ones, tend to have a much greater match rate. In comparison, men get fewer matches.

There is a funny video online that sums it up perfectly.

It shows the Tinder profile of a fit, good-looking man. Then it shows his matches — about 5.

Next, it shows a profile picture of a hardwood floor. The profile name is female. Number of matches — several dozen.

But it doesn’t stop at gender. Several Asian-American friends have complained to me about how people on dating apps will refuse to date them because of their ethnicity.

I remember a particular remark by a Filipino-American friend of mine — “You know what the craziest thing is? Even Asian women will not date me, telling me they only want to hook up with white men.”

Then again, my gay friends seem to have a relatively positive experience on dating apps like Grindr. Expectations tend to be more in sync and communication more direct.

What’s the Alternative?

So, if dating apps are mostly a flawed model (at least for heterosexual users), what is the alternative?

Talking to people in real life.

If you learn to reach out to strangers, many of the disadvantages of dating apps can be avoided.

There will be fewer misunderstandings. When you are talking to somebody face-to-face, you can take their sub-communication into account, i.e., their body language.

You can use other means than just your words to impress someone. If you have a great smile or move confidently, this will go a long way in appearing more desirable.

Both of you will know within minutes if there is a sexual spark and if you want to pursue this further. No more pointless first dates.

No more misleading pictures. When you meet someone on the street or at the bar, you know exactly what you are getting. There is no faking it.

This leads to the question — if real-life flirting offers so many advantages, why don’t we do it?

For men, it’s fear of rejection. They don’t want to get their ego hurt. For women, it’s antiquated gender roles. “But the man should make the first move.”

Both are not helpful.

How To Talk to Strangers

If you want to learn how to talk to strangers, here are a few pointers.

What Men Should Do

For men, the primary concern is fear of rejection. Many men would rather risk dying in a war than talking to a beautiful woman.

To overcome this, you must strategically desensitize yourself. You must gradually lower your fear threshold.

For example, every time you leave the house, make it a rule to smile at an attractive stranger. Do this for two weeks, until the jitters go away.

Next, give a quick compliment. “Hey, I just wanted to say, you look nice today. Have a great day.” Turn around and leave. Do this for another two few weeks.

Finally, follow up with an observation. For example, “I noticed that you carry a gym bag. If I had to guess, I would say that you are a yoga girl. Am I right?”

Don’t worry about winning a gold medal at the Flirt Olympics. By simply being normal and putting yourself out there, you will see success. Eventually, you will come across somebody who likes your vibe. Every Jack has his Jill.

What Women Should Do

For women, the challenge is the social script. You have been taught to not show sexual interest in others.

You need to overcome this programming. You are not a “slut” for actively going after men you are sexually interested in.

On the contrary — it’s the smart move. What are the chances of “being found” by Mr. Right? Slim. You must take luck into your own hands.

To be fair, there is an aspect of risk management. A man can physically overpower you. Hence, women tend to be more cautious when it comes to flirting.

But at some point, you will have to take some calculated risks. It’s the only way you can calibrate yourself to the nuances of the sexual marketplace.

If you just stay away from all of it, hoping that a white knight on a horse will come along at some point, you’ll probably be disappointed. Get your hands dirty. Flirt with some strangers.

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