Love Me Tinder, Love Me True

By Erika Ettin Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) If you have not yet dipped your toe into the world of online dating, dating expert Erika Ettin shares the low down on what to look for and avoid.

Tribune News Service

Ah, dating apps. Some people love them. Some people hate them. Some people have no idea whether to love them or hate them.

Of course, there are many apps out there, Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and the list goes on, in addition to the associated app for many of the already-popular online dating sites like Match.com, OKCupid, and eHarmony.

But, the most talked about app is often Tinder, which preceded all of the others (except for Grindr).

Tinder was first adopted by younger, phone-savvy generation, but it's caught on all across the board today, on its almost-7th birthday. Keep in mind that most, if not all, of the apps are free, so people will have many different intentions. Some are just looking for a hook-up and some may want to start a real, meaningful relationship. The problem? We don't know.

How Tinder works: You download the app on your phone, and then you give permission to connect through Facebook to create your (very minimal) profile.

You can upload up to nine profile photos and then specify your desired age range and distance from your location.

Then, you scroll through potential matches and swipe right if you're interested and swipe left if you're not. If you and someone else both swipe right on each other, you'll be notified when this happens, and then you can start in-app texting.

Pros of dating apps: Easy to use, really fast app, free, seemingly unlimited choices at any time, only first name shown so somewhat anonymous, can find people when traveling because it's always based on your current location

Cons: Solely based on picture and optional profile (more superficial than an already superficial market!), people's intentions vary and some just play like a game to pass time, many matches do not initiate contact or respond (both men and women), may match with someone who is only visiting the area.

If you're looking for something a bit more serious, then a paying online dating site is still your better bet because you at least know that the people on the site have some skin in the game, in the form of $20 or so a month.

Also, on the traditional online dating sites, you learn a bit more about each person from his/her profile, and thereby his/her ability to string together a complete sentence. (I don't know about you, but this "skill" is kind of important to me.)

The major benefit to the apps is that they create efficiency. (I feel this way about speed dating, too.)

Technically, you could match with someone at noon and be on a date by 1 p.m. (Heck – you could be on a date at 12:05 if you live that close ... my record is 19 minutes from getting a match to scheduling a date.)

I always encourage people to meet in person sooner rather than later because chemistry (the "wild card") can never truly be determined until you meet in the flesh.

But if you're looking for that one "true love," then I'd recommend instead fishing in the traditional online dating pond, where many people make their intentions very clear.

In the end, regardless of what you're looking for and how you meet, it's nice that we have so many options today, certainly more than our parents or grandparents did. Though, I think my mom was onto something in her day ... she used to find dates over the ham radio! The precursor to Tinder perhaps? Go Mom! ___ (Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)

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