Dakota Greenwich/Mustang News

It starts with a swipe. Thumbs push profiles across the screen, right for “yes” and left for “no.”

Even after reading each profile and looking through their pictures, it’s possible to see at least 40 potential matches within about 10 minutes on some dating apps.

Within seconds the swiper could know whether the person on the other side is attracted to them. The growing numbers of these apps, including Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and Hitch, often rely on users flicking through short profiles to make a split-second decision on whether they’re interested or not.

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, the dating scene has become steadily more convenient. Someone looking for dates — or even just hookups —  can coordinate everything from the comfort of their couch.

While some say that the technology  has ruined dating, others believe that traditional dating in college has been on its way out since the 1970s — making dating apps and websites just another step in a dating evolution.

Tinder, arguably the most popular dating app on the market, allows users to sift through and match with as many people as they want, allowing any one user see hundreds of profiles at any given time. Currently, the company’s leaders boast that 1.4 billion profiles are swiped through daily across all of its users, resulting in 26 million matches each day — more than 9 billion matches in company history, according to its website.

Out of those profiles on Tinder, 62 percent of users are male, and only 54 percent are actually single — with the remaining percentages being in various stages of other relationships. Further, 45 percent of Tinder users are between the ages of 25 and 34, according to a recent study from GlobalWebIndex.

Online dating worked for environmental management and protection senior Devon Jackson’s dad. The dating website and app, Match — which suggests compatibility based on approximately 400 survey answers — helped his father find a long-term girlfriend.

“I feel like it’s just a useful way to meet people when you have a busy work life,” he said.

A Pew Research Center study also found that 23 percent of online daters found a spouse or long-term partner through a dating app or website.  

People have unique reasons for joining dating sites and apps.

It can even start as a joke. Scripps College alumna Paloma Medina, who has used both Tinder and OKCupid, said that she downloaded both apps for fun — Tinder while she was living abroad in Germany for a year, and OKCupid to encourage a friend to get onto the online dating scene.

Medina, who graduated with a degree in biology, said the immediate satisfaction of knowing if there’s a mutual attraction is a huge draw.

“It’s a good confidence booster at first,” she said. “But that wears off. At first, it’s like: ‘Wow, this person’s hot, and they think I’m attractive!’ But that feeling goes away after a while.”

Being able to meet someone from behind a screen can also relieve a lot of the stress. It’s relatively convenient for anyone with a smartphone, and can bring an informal, comfortable air to dating.

“It connects you to people you find more physically attractive, more easily,” Jackson said. “So it kind of weeds out having to go to bars or social situations that would put you in a state of discomfort.”

On the flipside, Medina claims that dating apps can just as easily take someone out of their comfort zone by introducing them to people they might not otherwise meet.

“You might be a great match for someone, and maybe they’re a pianist and you’re a developmental biologist, and you might not otherwise have a chance to meet them,” Medina said.

In fact, 79 percent of those surveyed in a Pew Research Center study agreed that online dating is a good way to meet people in general. And 70 percent believed that online dating could better help them find a romantic partner because it introduces them to such a wide variety of people.

However, app dating isn’t without its pitfalls. The lack of face-to-face interaction doesn’t give people the opportunity to read body language.

“There’s a lot you pick up on when you’re in the room with someone,” Medina said. “And you lose that with a dating app.”

Mechanical engineering graduate student Yufay Chow, who has used Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel, added that the convenience of app dating has created a space that doesn’t really feel like it’s set up for long-term relationships.

“When you have apps like Tinder, I feel like it emphasizes more of the one-night stand kind of relationship, versus something meaningful that lasts,” he said.

A recent study out of Michigan State University found in a survey that people who start dating online are more likely to break up — with 32 percent of online daters breaking up compared to 23 percent who met without the help of dating sites.

And while Medina has known people who found long-term relationships from online dating, there’s a lot of room to date multiple people.

“Online, you can play ‘the game’ a lot harder — or more intensely,” Medina said. “You can talk to a bunch of people and never meet up.”

The addition of dating apps has changed the dating scene altogether, according to Chow, moving from a more traditional scene to something entirely different.

“People will meet each other at a (public) spot,” he said, as opposed to picking someone up and treating them to a meal or coffee. “And I don’t want to say there’s like a ‘bad guy’ stereotype (of male online daters), but that’s kind of what it leans toward.”

However, sociologist Kathleen Bogel of Saint Joseph’s University, wrote in a study that traditional dating has been on its way out since the 1970s — adding that, even in 2004,  most college students weren’t going on dates unless they were going to an event that called for one or were already in a long-term relationship.

Medina, whose online dating experiences have mostly been pleasant, added that the online dating boom feels to her like a byproduct of people’s love of convenience in general, and it isn’t necessarily good or bad on its own.

“But, over time, I’ll probably stop using these apps,” she added. “Because I’ll find my true love on one of them and not need it.”

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