Dating apps have a reputation for being hotbeds of casual sex that you can access with a mere swipe and the exchange of a few (usually terrible) one-liners. However, all is not as it seems in the world of Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Her, Happn, Badoo, Grindr and the like.
In fact, dating-app users aren't having more sex than the rest of the single population, according to a new study – they're just more interested in sex outside of a committed relationship. In academic parlance, their "sociosexual orientation" is more open to the possibility of short-term sexual relationships, but they're not actually doing the deed more than other singletons.
For the study, published in the online journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology quizzed 641 students aged 19-29 about their sex lives and use of picture-based dating apps.
Among participants, both the men and women who had used dating apps like Tinder and Bumble reported being less restricted in their sociosexuality than those who had never used them, reported EurekAlert. Considering the outdated but still commonly held assumption that women are less open to the possibility of short-term flings than men, it's an interesting finding.
"Nothing suggests that people use dating apps more because they are more or less attractive as a sexual partner than most people," said Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, a researcher in NTNU's Department of Public Health and Nursing. This will no doubt come as a relief to anyone terrified at the prospect of "putting themselves out there" online to revive an ailing sex life.
However, the study does suggest there are differences between the way women and men use dating apps. Women devote more time to them because they're more discriminating and take longer to consider each candidate, while men are more "efficient", swiping and making decisions more quickly and being more likely to contact matches.
(If you've ever sat and watched a man swipe right on every candidate in a bid to "maximise his chances", a dismally common dating-app strategy these days, this won't surprise you in the slightest.)
"Women are more discerning. Men are more eager. This has clear evolutionary reasons. Women have more to lose by engaging with low-quality sexual partners than men do. That's why men swipe right more often than women do," Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, from NTNU's Department of Psychology, told EurekAlert.
Men and women also use dating apps for different reasons, according to the study. While both genders reported using Tinder when they were bored and had nothing else to do, women were more likely to say they used apps for confirmation that they were attractive, while men placed greater importance on casual sex.
"Men tend to report a desire for casual sex and short-term relationships as a reason for using dating apps," said psychologist Ernst Olav Botnen, one of the study's authors, but men aren't only looking for casual sex. "Men who use these apps also seek long-term partners, but to a lesser extent than short-term partners."