The Dating App Era


People used to place personal ads in newspapers in hopes of finding potential mates. There’s a steamy Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin thriller, Sea of Love, in which Pacino plays a cop who goes on date after date trying to identify a serial killer that’s using the personal classifieds to lure his victims. Ellen Barkin is either the femme fatale or the love interest, or both.

The days of personal classifieds in newspapers are long gone, as are movies that use classifieds as a device. Now it’s the age of dating apps. What was once considered the last attempt of the desperate and lonely has become not only acceptable but the most common way to meet potential partners, whether for casual or committed relationships. Coming in second place for meeting mates is the workplace/school, followed by meeting through mutual friends (which worked beautifully for me).

Thirty percent of adults have used online dating apps. That percent jumps to 48 percent among ages 18-29, according to Pew Research. I know a number of people who have met their partners using online dating apps.

Why my interest? Being married 28 years, I’ve never had an online dating profile nor do I ever want one, although I’ve helped a couple of friends assemble their profiles and I’m the father of two young adults who fall in the 18-29 age range and of course wanted no input from me on their profiles, a likely smart decision. They’ve had their own ups and downs using dating apps.

I’ve learned that young women can be swamped with offers, while men can languish. One of the reasons is that women have more criteria than men when choosing who to date, but part of it is a numbers game. The two most popular dating apps for adults ages 18-29 are Tinder and Bumble, both of which have more men than women registered on them. I’m not sure what it’s like on dating apps for the LGBTQ cohort, but at least such apps exist.

It must be hard to sort out who to date and who to reject based on profiles and a few well-lighted photos. Plus, romantic scamming is a thing now. The Federal Trade Commission reported they had over 56,000 complaints from people who’ve been financially scammed on dating apps. How to choose? Who to trust? You could end up going out with a creep who appeared charming in their profile or you could swipe the wrong way on someone who might have been a gem but used the wrong form of the word its/it’s or your/you’re in their profile and you happen to be a stickler for grammar and usage. You could get cavalier about language and manners and find yourself in conversations like the one below. These two are arguing before they even meet each other.

It’s not just that these two are sniping at each other. I’m wondering, just wondering, if communicating in complete sentences, demonstrating some command of the written English language, or revising impulsive thoughts before hitting send would be an asset and help you make a better impression on a potential date.

If that’s the case, I might have held my own if these apps existed in the good old days. Maybe I’d have an advantage as a writer that could make up for my shortcomings in other areas: Yes, I’m underemployed and a poor listener, but I can spell. I’m happy not to have to find out.

For the rest of you still hunting and swiping, I wish you the best. Pro tip: “it’s” = it is. As in: “It’s not so easy to meet the right person on a dating app.” While “its” is a possessive pronoun, like ours, his, yours, hers: “A dog appeared in the profile photo with its owner.”

Check out this short clip of Al Pacino and partner John Goodman working undercover in Sea of Love. Excellent performance by the talented Patricia Berry.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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