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Online Dating: Swiping toward disaster or love?

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A LITTLE HELP FROM MOM A mother's perspective on online dating can be just the thing needed for success. (Illustration:

Talk to a 25-year-old long enough, and you’re likely to hear some mention of online dating. That’s because more than half of the under-30 crowd has created a profile, at some time or another, on a dating app, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center study.

Like the 30-year-old who moved back to Houston a couple of years ago and saw it as a way to meet new people. 

“I had a friend who suggested it, so I downloaded the app and made a profile,” the young man says, as he asks not to be identified. “The app” he refers to is Hinge, which is geared toward connecting 20- and 30-somethings. It’s one of several dating apps belonging to the Match Group, which launched the ubiquitous Match dating app back in 1995, the very beginning of online dating.

Today, one in 10 couples met through a dating app. Of couples under 30, that number rises to one in five, according to that same Pew Research study. 

But the consensus is still out: Do users love or hate the apps?

The young man, initially open to the idea of online dating, is a detractor after two dates that started on the app.

“I did end up dating the first girl I met online for over a year,” he says. “But the other one was a disaster.”

“The first one, we talked on Hinge, then we exchanged numbers and talked a good amount on the phone, then we set a date.” You could call that date a success; they stayed together for over a year. “But the second one was just Let’s go on a date, straight to it, so I didn’t get to know her first.

“As soon as we met, I felt like I was in an audition,” the young man says. “It was a Saturday night, and we’re out for drinks.” He remembers the conversation being one-sided and his date seeming bored. “Then two of her friends show up, and they’re like Oh, what a coincidence, but I’m not buying it. They were there to rescue her.

“Now a guy shows up and sits with us. What do you think happens? Everyone’s now on my [bar] tab. I end up spending over $200 there, then we get into an Uber and go to a fancy restaurant, and next thing I know I’m eating bone marrow. Then the check comes, and me and the other guy wind up splitting a $400 tab. After that I got in an Uber like I was running for the hills. I could not have gotten out quicker. 

“Unless I’m really impressed, I can’t see myself going on an online date now.”

But there’s another side to that coin: Lots of 20-somethings have left their online profiles and come away with real connections.

“Online dating is a fulltime job,” a 24-year-old woman who works in marketing says. “You’re committed to putting yourself out there, updating your pictures. It takes a lot of work and a lot of scrolling. 

“I was complaining to my mom about how tough it was,” the woman, who also asked to remain anonymous, says. “Finding someone in person was never going to happen, the way our generation is with social media. But I’d scroll and scroll for hours, and it was so frustrating.”

“Finally, my mom was like Just give me the app and let me swipe. I taught her how to swipe yes, no, and she was on it for 15 minutes when she showed me a picture and said This guy’s cute. He was clearly in med school, and I was saying what if he’s nerdy, he’s from a small town, he’s not my type…I was coming up with reasons not to interact with him.”

The mom encouraged her daughter to just give her pick a try. “We had coffee on our first date,” the woman says, “and it was two-and-a-half hours. Coffee doesn’t take two-and-a-half hours. I called my mom and said I was confused…I liked him, but he wasn’t what I thought I liked.” 

Eight months later, coffee has turned into much more: The couple has joined a church together, visited each other’s families in different hometowns, and is looking forward to what comes next. The woman says, “I’m extremely confident there is a future [with us].

“Ultimately my mom got me to get out of my own way and just go on one date rather than ruling someone out because of a tiny little thing. It’s easy to just move on on an app. But you might as well be open-minded and just see what happens.

And it’s true, mother knows best.”

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