Does online dating simplify the dating process?

Nov 8, 2023
4 minutes to read

Key points:

  • Contrary to expectations, online dating may not be as effective as it seems;
  • Research shows that a significant number of matches (around 300) typically precede every in-person meeting or date on platforms like Tinder;
  • Online dating does not appear to substantially increase in-person sexual behavior, at least on average.

Moreover, online dating does not seem to lead to a significant increase in the frequency of in-person sexual encounters, at least on average. What attracts many people to online dating is the expanded pool of potential partners it offers, providing the opportunity to connect with people you might never cross paths with in real life.

However, does this automatically lead to an increase in the number of sexual partners? Not necessary.

Is online dating an effective method of meeting new people?

It appears that online dating may not provide the expected level of effectiveness. This conclusion comes from a recent study of Tinder users, which found that a large number of matches unexpectedly led to relatively few in-person dates.

The study, conducted and published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, involved 269 young people from Norway with an average age of 22 who were either current or former users of the online dating app Tinder. Participants were asked about their experience with the app, including the number of matches, one-on-one meetings, casual encounters, and long-term relationships.

The average number of matches reported by both men and women was relatively high: 111 and 124 matches, respectively. It is worth noting that these numbers did not differ significantly between genders. However, people who were currently using the app and identified as single had even more matches, with an average of 148 matches for men and 177 for women. Despite this significant number of matches, the average number of actual matches on Tinder was only 2, regardless of gender. Even if we focused solely on current single users, the average number of encounters would be 3.

Number of matches for an acquaintance or date

In terms of dating, about one in five users reported having at least one sexual encounter on Tinder. In other words, 80 percent of users did not engage in sexual activity with anyone they met on the app. Among those in relationships, 65 percent had one partner, 15 percent had two partners, and 20 percent had more than two. In terms of long-term relationships, only one in four users reported meeting someone with whom they were potentially interested in forming a long-term relationship.

The general trend shows that for every 57 matches there was only one head-to-head match, which corresponds to less than 2 percent of matches ending in head-to-head matches. For about every 5 meetings, 1 meeting or romantic relationship arose. If you crunch the numbers, you’ll find that for every in-person sexual or romantic relationship, there are an average of 285 online matches. This explains why many people find online dating a tedious task.

It’s also noteworthy that the researchers found that most people who chatted on Tinder also chatted outside of the app. For most of them, Tinder only added one additional partner to their experience. Thus, even for those who were successful offline, going online did not necessarily lead to a significant increase in sexual activity.


It is important to note several key takeaways from this study:

  1. First, the study focused exclusively on one dating app (Tinder), although there are many other dating apps out there. It is possible that different applications may produce different results;
  2. Second, the study specifically looked at young adults and did not address potential differences in sexual orientation. Dating rates could differ significantly if researchers compared, for example, gay men using Grindr with straight men using Tinder.

However, these results may indeed be somewhat surprising to many people, as they challenge the widely held belief that online dating and dating apps inevitably lead to a significant increase in sexual activity.

In conclusion, the authors of this study suggest: “Dating apps such as Tinder primarily serve as a new platform for the development of short-term sexual behavior rather than as a catalyst for entirely new sexual behavior. Given current results, it appears that Tinder does provide new sexual opportunities, but predominantly for a relatively small group of people… For those who have already had the most success in their dating endeavors outside of Tinder, the app only provides a limited number of additional short-term sexual opportunities contacts.” 

View full article here

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)