“Hey there gorgeous 😉 Do you have a map, by any chance? Sorry, I keep getting lost in your eyes.”
You’re very likely to get a pickup line like this when you’re often surfing on dating apps. It’s a good way to break the ice and start getting into the talking stage when you’re beginning a new relationship–or maybe fail in trying so. Nevertheless, people on dating apps tend to make themselves appear more enticing to grab the attention of any potential partners coming their way.
In this modern era, dating is now made easy with the existence of these dating apps. Gone are the old days of asking matchmakers to do the work for you. With just your phone, you can find a potential lover somewhere within the vast networks of the virtual world. Getting the ideal partner may not be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack with the convenient features of those dating apps: using the filter function and just swiping left and right to get the person that fits your type. As it is, love has become wired–entangled in intricate threads of this technological world.
Be that as it may, this complex web of wires can be slowly undone with the understanding of why we do such things in the first place. What is going on with our mating habits? Is online dating affecting our perception of love? What really is love in the first place? Our steps in uncovering the answers slowly but surely starts by holding a public discussion of the same theme. This discussion is held as the main event of The 8th Espresso by BOE with the purpose of unveiling the uncertainties of love and the current conditions of our modern dating culture, starring three esteemed panelists: Dr. Phil. Diana Teresa Pakasi, a sociologist; Dian Wisnuwardhani, M.Pd, a psychologist; and Coach Lex De Praxis as the co-founder of kelascinta.com. This article is written in turn as a result of the discussion, intending to shed light on the matters of the heart.
Defining Love and Its Importance
Love and its variations have existed all throughout human history1Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (2002). Passionate love and sexual desire: Cultural and historical perspectives. In A. L. Vangelisti, H. T. Reis, & M. A. Fitzpatrick (Eds.), Stability and change in relationships (pp. 306–324). Cambridge University Press. Experts in anthropology and psychology have surmised that love is universal and at least one variation of it, romantic love, has been an ever present existence in human groups all over the world. This inseparable and innate human characteristic was however treated as unfitting for research because of its intimate nature. However, it wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that psychologists started to conduct proper research on this central aspect of people’s lives2Berscheid, E. (2010). Love in the fourth dimension. Annual review of psychology, 61, 1-25..
To answer the old-age question of what love truly is, we must first understand the significance of love itself. This eventually comes down to one important part of humans: their needs. Love, affection, and belongingness are included in the list of basic needs described in Maslow’s theory on human motivation, listed in the hierarchy after physiological and safety3Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396.. Humans will crave for interpersonal relationships as a means to obtain love and affection and try to attain a place where they truly belong. This need will appear after the previous two basic needs are adequately fulfilled.
Biologically, humans are a part of the 3% of mammals that do pair-bonding (Kleiman, 1997 in Conroy-Beam, Goetz, & Buzz, 2015)4Conroy-Beam, D., Goetz, C. D., & Buss, D. M. (2015). Why do humans form long-term mateships? An evolutionary game-theoretic model. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 51, pp. 1-39). Academic Press.. Although sexual desire is a natural, physiological need, we humans tend to commit to long-term mating. In fact, among the great apes, humans are the only species to do so. Long-term mating does come with its risks, such as the opportunity cost of passing up a more beneficial partner, uncertainties, and forms of control by way of physical and emotional abuse. Despite the many risks it has, long-term mating is still a significant mode in all human cultures and is a dominant mating strategy.
Getting back to humans’ needs for love, affection, and belongingness; how about the importance of romantic love? Romantic love is distinguished into passionate love and companionate love5Reis, H. T., & Aron, A. (2008). Love: What is it, why does it matter, and how does it operate?. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(1), 80-86. Passionate love is described as a state of longing for union with another while companionate love is about the affection felt for those whose lives are deeply intertwined. Both are connected to Steinberg’s triangular theory of love6Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93(2), 119–135., in which love includes intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy is all about the connection: how people feel the closeness and bondedness in their relationship. This component is all about the feelings that awaken those intimacy–the experience of falling in love with another person. Next is the passion component, which refers to the drives that lead to romance, attraction, and sexual intimacy. It encompasses the many factors that contribute to sexual desire in a relationship. Last but not least, commitment is about the short run decision of loving someone and how to maintain said love in the long run.
Evolution of Love
The landscape of modern romance is shaped by the shift from the traditional ways of courtship to a digital one. The role of matchmakers as an intermediary for finding love has faded over time. This role is common among family, circle of friends, communities, and especially dating agencies and newspaper “single” column7Hobbs, M., Owen, S., & Gerber, L. (2017). Liquid love? Dating apps, sex, relationships and the digital transformation of intimacy. Journal of Sociology, 53(2), 271-284.. Undergoing a digital revolution, the ways of courtship for single adults today are simply within a touch of your fingertips—literally. With just their smartphone, people today have the opportunity to obtain romantic and/or sexual partners from a wide variety through social networks and algorithms. This is apparent with the existence of mobile dating applications, which heavily contribute in today’s modern dating culture with its convenient functionality and mobility.
The popularity of dating apps of course raises further inquiries on their influence on courtship practices and coupling, and whether they might also affect expectations and desires. The founders of Tinder, a popular dating app, had stated that the app was designed to challenge and supplant online dating websites by offering a more fluid experience. They intended for the app to “take the stress out of dating” with its propositions of treating it as a “game” that requires very little investment in efforts and emotional attachments.
This fluidity in the modern dating landscape has given rise to a new terminology: liquid love. This term was first coined by Baumann (2013) in his book, “Liquid Love: on the frailty of human bonds”8Bauman, Z. (2013). Liquid love: On the frailty of human bonds. John Wiley & Sons.. He argued that the twin forces of individualisation and social change have ‘liquefied’ the solidity and security that had been given by romantic partnerships and family structures. He specifically mentioned ‘computer-dating’ as symptomatic of what he calls ‘liquid love’, which transforms romance and courtship into a type of entertainment where users can date ‘secure in the knowledge they can always return to the marketplace for another bout of shopping’.
An Alternative: Online Dating
Along with the times that are progressing quite rapidly in this modern era, love life is also experiencing some developments. Technology innovation makes chatting activities possible regardless of distance and time. This has led to a new way to get acquainted with potential partners, namely through social media or what is called online dating. The concept of dating in online dating itself has existed for a long time, it’s just different in the media of delivery. If people in the past exchanged identities through the matchmaking column in newspapers, now they have applications that are more sophisticated and they contain features that make the acquaintance process easier. This makes online dating activity itself can be easily adopted by many groups of society, especially young adults who are looking for love. In the mid-1990s, online dating sites like Match.com marked the first forays of the commercial Internet into dating and relationships (Smith, & Duggan, 2013)9Smith, A. W., & Duggan, M. (2013). Online dating & relationship. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center and ever since then the emergence of other dating sites is increasingly widespread.
Innovations in technology that have sprung up in the modern era are certainly expected to be the solutions to the problems and shortcomings of traditional dating. Although online dating is expected to provide answers that traditional dating couldn’t provide, it is also not 100% believed that innovation will not cause new problems. Some people have a really good time dating online, while the others are experiencing awful encounters. This has caused online dating to receive various responses: pros and cons from various parties.
Issues of Online Dating
Recently, a case has been brought to the public’s attention. This was quite famous because it was made into a film called Tinder Swindler. The term “Tinder Swindler” ever since then is used to call fraudsters who try to manipulate the victim to give or lend them money. This is certainly a problem that dating app users need to be aware of. It is true that manipulation can happen anywhere, both online and offline. However, such opportunities are much more available in the online world. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 21,000 online dating scams were reported in 2018, with a total reported loss of $143 million10Doubek, J. (2019). Americans Lost $143 Million In Online Relationship Scams Last Year. NPR. org, Feb, 13.. Online dating services have focused on improving ways to better match users, but have not given enough attention to protecting users. This improvement will not be significant because this would not prevent scammers from creating multiple fake profiles with different information to trick the recommendation algorithm (Al-Rousan, Abuhussein, Alsubaei, Kahveci, Farra, & Shiva, 2020)11Al-Rousan, S., Abuhussein, A., Alsubaei, F., Kahveci, O., Farra, H., & Shiva, S. (2020). Social-guard: Detecting scammers in online dating. 2020 IEEE International Conference on Electro Information Technology (EIT). https://doi.org/10.1109/eit48999.2020.9208268. A lot of people are fake as they have a public face and a private face when it comes to expressing true preferences and the online world gives them a media to channel their desire. On the other hand, to meet the desire is so important that people are willing to create fake profiles in order to match with somebody. The process of creating fake profiles can also hurt many users as scammers often use other people’s pictures and information or what is commonly called identity theft.
Online dating is also closely related to hook up culture where the advance of hookup culture is intrinsically connected to the rise of online dating (Vogel, 2019)12Vogel, C. (2019). Gender differences in online dating experiences. Institute of Network Cultures. Hookup is defined as casual sexual interaction without the exclusivity and commitment of a romantic relationship (Armstrong, England, & Fogarty, 2010)13Armstrong, E. A., England, P., & Fogarty, A. C. K. (2010). Orgasm in college hookups and relationships. In B. Risman (Ed.), Families as they really are (pp. 362–377). W.W. Norton; Bogle, K. A. (2008). Hooking up: Sex, dating, and relationships on campus. NYU Press; Wade, L. (2017). American hookup: The new culture of sex on campus. WW Norton & Company.. In our public discussion, Coach Lex, a professional dating coach, said that if people in the past tended to get together in real life before stepping up to the hook up stage, it’s easier now to skip to the hook up stage because of online dating. This can cause a lot of people who really have the intention of finding the right partner for a long-term relationship, having difficulty consummating their intentions.
However, online dating has made some relationships successful in the real world. Online dating seems to be a convenient way for most people to meet. Surveys show that about 60% of participants have a positive experience with dating platforms14Vogels, E. A. (2023, February 2). 10 facts about Americans and online dating. Pew Research Center. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/06/10-facts-about-americans-and-online-dating/. Online dating also helped a lot especially during COVID-19 where access to mingle with people in real life is restricted. Online dating apps also help people to expand the pool of potential partners because they serve media to people all around the world to be able to communicate15Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public interest, 13(1), 3-66.. Online dating also helps people to not waste time going on dates with people who are not their “match” as they will be connected with people who have the same interest. These are the advantages of online dating that make people keep on using the apps.
Love is a subject that is close to humans as love develops along with the development of civilization. The way humans find love is even more varied due to convenience in the form of advanced innovation or technology which can facilitate interaction. One of the innovations is online dating which is quite popular these days. Even so, humans as the main actors of online dating must not be complacent because along with convenience, new problems arise. That’s why online daters need to watch out. These issues can have a pretty disastrous effect on the online dating experience. Not to mention the emergence of new habits caused by the convenience facilitated by dating apps. By being aware of the good and bad of online dating, of course, the activity of looking for love can run more effectively and give a good impression.
|↵1||Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (2002). Passionate love and sexual desire: Cultural and historical perspectives. In A. L. Vangelisti, H. T. Reis, & M. A. Fitzpatrick (Eds.), Stability and change in relationships (pp. 306–324). Cambridge University Press|
|↵2||Berscheid, E. (2010). Love in the fourth dimension. Annual review of psychology, 61, 1-25.|
|↵3||Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396.|
|↵4||Conroy-Beam, D., Goetz, C. D., & Buss, D. M. (2015). Why do humans form long-term mateships? An evolutionary game-theoretic model. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 51, pp. 1-39). Academic Press.|
|↵5||Reis, H. T., & Aron, A. (2008). Love: What is it, why does it matter, and how does it operate?. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(1), 80-86|
|↵6||Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93(2), 119–135.|
|↵7||Hobbs, M., Owen, S., & Gerber, L. (2017). Liquid love? Dating apps, sex, relationships and the digital transformation of intimacy. Journal of Sociology, 53(2), 271-284.|
|↵8||Bauman, Z. (2013). Liquid love: On the frailty of human bonds. John Wiley & Sons.|
|↵9||Smith, A. W., & Duggan, M. (2013). Online dating & relationship. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center|
|↵10||Doubek, J. (2019). Americans Lost $143 Million In Online Relationship Scams Last Year. NPR. org, Feb, 13.|
|↵11||Al-Rousan, S., Abuhussein, A., Alsubaei, F., Kahveci, O., Farra, H., & Shiva, S. (2020). Social-guard: Detecting scammers in online dating. 2020 IEEE International Conference on Electro Information Technology (EIT). https://doi.org/10.1109/eit48999.2020.9208268|
|↵12||Vogel, C. (2019). Gender differences in online dating experiences. Institute of Network Cultures|
|↵13||Armstrong, E. A., England, P., & Fogarty, A. C. K. (2010). Orgasm in college hookups and relationships. In B. Risman (Ed.), Families as they really are (pp. 362–377). W.W. Norton; Bogle, K. A. (2008). Hooking up: Sex, dating, and relationships on campus. NYU Press; Wade, L. (2017). American hookup: The new culture of sex on campus. WW Norton & Company.|
|↵14||Vogels, E. A. (2023, February 2). 10 facts about Americans and online dating. Pew Research Center. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/06/10-facts-about-americans-and-online-dating/|
|↵15||Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public interest, 13(1), 3-66.|