Are you in a relationship with Tinder?

Ace Vu
5 min readMar 14, 2016

Tinder is the hottest online dating app that allows users to show their interest in each other by swiping right on a person’s picture. If two users swipe right on one another, they are instantly matched and Tinder will notify both! This is when two persons can start a conversation within the app. Sounds super easy.

Yet, have users ever wondered how many swipes it takes to get to the center of the Tootsie Roll? To get a match, how many swipes must a user make? More so, how many matches must a user chat with to get a date? And, how many dates to find the perfect partner?

The likelihood of getting as far as a date, not to mention your perfect partner, is undoubtedly dependent on how “good” someone’s picture looks. “Good” looking users in search of casual encounters can easily find success. Not so much those looking for meaningful conversation or the perfect partner.

The ugly truth: Tinder is the winner, in the swiping game, through its loving long-term relationship with its many addicted users.

Matches Based On Look

Finding a match is by far the overarching popularity of Tinder. Bingo! Users feed into this key component of the app dating game. One feels accomplishment and worth each time a match is achieved. The more matches, the sexier, the more attractive, the more desired, and the more popular one feels. Because finding a match is largely dependent on one’s looks, the feeling of failure is prevalent the more users do not like your picture. So, users can easily fall into the trap of spending more time on the app in search of matches.

My best friend recently told me that he usually swipes right (like) on everyone to increase his matches and to find out who like him. Although he does not talk to all the matches, having more matches boost his confidence.

Another friend, who is not so “good” looking, swipes right on everyone to increase his chances. Unfortunately, he only matches with people he describes as “undesirable.” Yes, people on Tinder can be “shallow” or “superficial”. In this online social media century, who doesn’t judge others based on looks?

Quick Meet, Hangout, NSA, or Netflix & Chill

Quick fun/sexual encounter seems to be a popular reason (or result) Tinder’s users share. This result is from the app’s core design, which focuses on limiting the time needed to view and indicate interest. For these quick encounters, users often view as many profiles as possible. For this desired result, investing time into quality conversations or a romantic date is not required. They tend to swipe, meet, express, and move on to the next. It’s a repeat cycle.

Relationship Oriented

Want something more meaningful? Not so fast. The structure of Tinder is not built for love. Before Tinder and many other online dating applications (web and mobile), people interacted face to face, meeting people through friends, family, school, work, or at bar. The personal connection starts the moment both parties look at each other and is further developed as the two spend more time together.

In the search for a relationship, users often find a lack of a personal connection or quality conversation. Users can chat with each other as much as they like. And, none of this matters when pictures can only go so far.

When focusing on appearance, people allow their prejudice, superficial judgment, and expectations close the door on the chance of getting to know the other with an open mind (or heart). Too often, we can expect a strikeout when meeting for the first time.

The Real Algorithm

To help people feed their prejudice, Tinder introduced its new algorithm last year. It claims, “With our ears even closer to the ground, we provide users with the most relevant potential matches to result in more meaningful connections.” Tinder does not do too well to explain what data their new algorithm is based, other than mention the added user information to profiles: employment and education.

This information may be important for the users, especially the company data pool. However, does this new update actually help users to get a better matches? Or, does this information actually trick users to play more with the app?

Here is an example how Tinder could play their users. Let’s say user A gets 5 people to like his profile while he’s swiping on the app. Tinder could place these 5 people as the next 5 profiles he sees or Tinder could spread these 5 matches to every other 10. Yes, Tinder can quicken the process of getting users to find their match. Yet, does Tinder really want its users to fall in love with someone other than their Tinder app?

The Truth of Tinder

Tinder’s users base is Tinder’s most valuable assets. The more people use Tinder and the more time spent on the app, the more traction, engagement and money the company will make.

The more perfect matches, the less Tinder’s user base becomes. For each loving couple, Tinder will lose its audience and revenue stream. Tinder will sever its very own relationships developed with swipers.

Tinder is a well designed online “dating” game. It gives users the idea that they need to eliminate all the uninteresting fishes first before they get their perfect fish. This game is intended to go on and on.



Ace Vu

Storyteller, UX Designer, Accessibility Advocate, and World’s Beauty Admirer