Cards on the table: how dating apps are changing

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On Thursday, Facebook announced it would be bringing its own online dating service to Canada and Thailand, after piloting it in Colombia. Users can access the dating service through their Facebook profiles, and the company has been emphatic about maintaining separation between users’ dating profiles and virtually everything else for which they may use Facebook.

The new service allows users to answer predetermined questions about themselves, such as their biggest pet peeves, what makes them cry and what they value in friends. Users can fill out personal information such as height, religion and extensive career/educational background.

Bumble is a dating app in which women must message first in heterosexual pairings. The app has changed to allow users to include more information on their profiles, including personal stances on cannabis, alcohol and tobacco and whether they want children one day, as well as information about religion and education. Many apps have been increasing connectivity between their services and other social media. Bumble and Tinder are both services that allow users to connect to Spotify and share their taste in music.

All in all, we’re seeing a shift to detailed, thorough profiles on online dating apps popular to university students, and Facebook Dating is just the latest in a wave that’s been building for some time.

It seems to me that this is indicative of a changing mindset in users, particularly young people. While it is possible to include minimal information, many users have lovingly filled out many details about themselves, even if they are looking for casual experiences. Even if it’s just a short-term relationship, we want to know a little more about the people we spend our time and energy on.

It can be flattering to open a dating app and see countless profiles representing real people who might want to date you. That’s only until the decision paralysis strikes. There are so many people we could meet up with that we don’t want to meet anyone. With so many profiles on Tinder, some of which are only a few blurry headshots, how could anyone even decide who to date, let alone meet or even talk to?

The novel experience of entering a dating ocean from a dating puddle fades, leaving dozens of matches wondering why you never check your messages. It’s exhausting to constantly swipe in the hopes that a few of the numerous matches might get back to you, and that only few of those matches will be halfway decent human beings. What we loved about online dating a couple of years ago is now a reason many of us choose to skip the swiping.

With the changes to more detailed profiles, dating services are accommodating our shifting focus from quantity of matches to quality of connections.

The value we place on being calm, collected and even aloof is evident in the way we talk about dating. Need I mention the phenomenon of “Netflix and chill”? We want to be cool and not risk being caught caring more than our dates.

However, we’re pushing back against that whole concept of caring being a social faux pas. On Bumble, users seem just as likely to say they want something casual, want a relationship or just don’t know what they’re looking for. It threw me off at first, because I’m used to people our age approaching dating with a faux-chill attitude, and brutal honesty was new to me. Then, it made sense: why not tell someone what you want in a connection from the start? Why subject yourself to midnight hour chats with your roommates, deciphering the meaning of that match’s latest text?

Ideally, more thorough profiles may mean you find someone you really click with, having screened out others with different expectations from you. At the very least, filling out my online dating profile more extensively will mean fewer messages accusing me of being a robot.

It may be optimistic of me, but I choose to believe this is also the result of changing attitudes towards dating. Instead of being a game to us, as shown by statements like “coaches don’t play,” and “I totally scored,” dating is a relationship, however casual or exclusive, between people. It’s not a zero sum ordeal, but something we pursue hoping it adds something to our lives. Showing your cards in poker is a bad idea, but being upfront and honest about who you are and what you want in dating is valuable.

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