Brankin: You had me at “it’s a match!”

Meeting a romantic partner on a dating app shouldn’t be shameful.

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Tara Brankin

Picture this: You’re standing in a crowded bar on a Friday night. It’s too warm, it smells like stale beer and you’re debating leaving your friends behind when you see them. Your eyes meet. They smile. You smile back. Everything around you goes quiet, and you know in that moment that you have found someone you want to be with, whether for the night or for years to come.

But this is a fantasy, especially now since you should not be going anywhere crowded during a global pandemic.

During the beginning of my first year of college, I scoffed at people who used dating apps. Growing up, I believed that people should find romantic partners “organically” and that apps like Tinder were a sleazy way to meet casual hookups. This misguided opinion had been ingrained in my head from watching countless romantic movies and TV shows, nearly all of which contained a scene of the main characters meeting by some chance encounter or by already knowing each other, which would ultimately lead to them falling in love. But as I made more friends and got to know more people, I realized that using dating apps was much more common than I thought. Additionally, it was quite possibly the best way to meet potential romantic partners.

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that 54% of Americans believe that relationships that begin on a dating app are just as successful as relationships that begin in person. This same study also found that 57% of those who use online dating platforms had a positive experience with the platform.

So, why are people still ashamed of using dating apps? In my opinion, this stems not only from preconceived notions about meeting romantic partners in person but also fear of how friends and family will react. However, the only one who should have a say in how you find a partner is you.

Our generation has the luxury of constant accessibility, especially when it comes to finding a romantic partner. With apps like Tinder, you can meet people who live on the other side of campus or who are in different majors or even people from adjacent universities with a simple swipe. Using these apps is an extremely convenient and low-stakes way to find someone who shares your interests, or who you simply think is attractive. Since so many people use these apps, it is very likely that you will find someone who is looking for the same thing you are, whether it be a casual fling or a full-blown relationship.

However, there are some drawbacks to using dating apps regularly. According to Psychology Today, since users of apps like Tinder do not know who they are going to match with, people can become addicted to the unpredictable quality of the app. Additionally, people tend to get hooked on the “reward” aspect of receiving a match, which makes people eager to continue to use the app. Clearly, the addictive nature of apps like Tinder can cause toxic behavior, and it is important to check yourself if you notice that you’ve been visiting the app a concerning amount of times.

But ultimately, using apps like Tinder is not something to be ashamed of. There is no right or wrong way to meet a romantic partner and, if anything, dating apps help you meet people you otherwise would not have met because of different classes or friend groups. While there are some toxic aspects of dating apps, there are a lot of benefits as long as you’re smart about who you swipe on and don’t obsess over the number of matches you get. It is entirely possible to meet someone “organically.” There is nothing wrong with taking the process of finding a romantic partner into your own hands.