Dating apps at UK a cure for student loneliness

Hailey Peters

Valentine’s Day is a rather polarizing holiday— if you have someone special in your life, it’s a great day to celebrate that; if you don’t, it can feel like a day filled with flowers and chocolate just to remind you that you are lonely.

For the college demographic, free-to-use apps like Tinder, Grindr and Bumble dominate the online dating presence. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, single students across campus can turn to these apps to cure their feelings of loneliness on the day that they are reminded most of it.

According to Mike Wigger, developer of the Tinder app, Tinder is “more than a dating app. It’s a cultural movement.” At college, that proves to be extremely true.

Maddy Williams, a freshman double majoring in political science and sociology, has researched dating apps’ roles in college students’ lives. Her main focus has been on the most commonly used app, Tinder.

“My original thought was that once people become part of the Tinder community, their perception of the app changes,” Williams said. “As I’ve interviewed people who have used the app, I found out that their perceptions really didn’t change that much.”

Tinder has gotten a bad reputation for being used as a means solely to find casual hookups, and no real, long-lasting relationships can come from using the app. However, several students at UK have found their partners or have genuinely found someone interesting to them on Tinder or similar apps.

“Honestly, I’ve met a few decent guys on Bumble,” said junior biology major Adan Deeb. “Tinder, in my mind, is OK, but Bumble is legit. You want to find someone? I recommend Bumble.”

Sophomore marketing major Kristen Wells found her steady boyfriend on Tinder.

“I don’t think I was intentionally looking for him when I joined Tinder,” Wells said. “It was more of a way to meet new people. But here we are, going strong for a decent amount of time.”

Wells speaks for many people at UK who flock to Tinder as a means for curing loneliness, and not just in the romantic category. It is very common for people to join the app for the sole purpose of meeting new people at a place that they don’t know anyone.

“My argument now is that Tinder isn’t solely a dating application,” Williams said. “Rather, it’s a very complex social networking app. You definitely can hook up with someone, but I found that most of the time people that go on there do so as a joke or because they’re really lonely. I don’t see as many relationship-building conversations as I think were intended when the app was made, although there definitely are some that I have seen through my research.”

Dating applications like Tinder, Grindr and Bumble largely outweigh the popularity of more “serious” dating sites such as Match, eHarmony and PlentyOfFish at the college level, but no app has a sudden surge in usage around Valentine’s Day. In fact, the time of year when the apps are most used falls right at the start of each new school year.

“There’s really no spike in new users or usage in general at any time of year except for mid-August,” Williams said. “Which makes sense, I mean we are all thrown into this whole new world and we don’t know anybody here. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of the technology we have to meet new people? It’s so easy nowadays.”

Being alone on Valentine’s Day isn’t automatically cause for panic or rush to find someone to love, but there is hope for singles who put in time and effort to find someone through online dating apps.

“Match, eHarmony, things like that— people go to those sites when they want to get married in the next few years,” Williams said. “But the beauty of Tinder and apps like it is that you get out what you put into it, and finding someone through those apps is definitely possible if you do it right.”