Has Tinder replaced dating with hookup culture?

Story highlights

The proliferation of dating apps like Tinder has created an easy marketplace for casual sex

Mel Robbins: Human behavior has not really changed, you don't need app to be promiscuous

Editor’s Note: Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

CNN —  

Tinder, the popular dating app, recently had a meltdown on Twitter over an article in Vanity Fair about today’s harrowing hookup culture – one that is fueled by the proliferation of online dating apps. After reading “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’,” I must say that I feel like I should bath in Purell.

The article, by Nancy Jo Sales, looks at how apps like Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid have created an unbelievably easy marketplace for casual sex. The most alarming aspect of the article is that it reads as 100% accurate. Moreover, the issue that the article nods at, but doesn’t dig into, is that dating sucks for women.

Take Alex, for example, a guy on Wall Street who tells the reporter that he’s sleeping with 100 women a year, thanks to the larger “sample size” of women he can swipe through. From the article:

“Guys view everything as a competition,” he elaborates with his deep, reassuring voice. “Who’s slept with the best, hottest girls?” With these dating apps, he says, “you’re always sort of prowling. You could talk to two or three girls at a bar and pick the best one, or you can swipe a couple hundred people a day – the sample size is so much larger. It’s setting up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, sleeping with all of them, so you could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.”

Among many young men, these apps seem to be leading to “gorging … a kind of psychosexual obesity,” according to author Christopher Ryan. These guys call the women they bed “Tinderellas.” Except – there’s no fairy tale ending for the women.

Mel Robbins

Now, you may think that these apps have fundamentally changed human behavior, but I do not.

Rock stars and professional athletes have enjoyed easily accessible casual sex for decades. These apps just make it available to the masses. Besides, you don’t need an app to be promiscuous. And you don’t need Tinder to sleep around. People have been doing it for ages.

If I think back to the dating culture two decades ago, it wasn’t pretty. There were plenty of drunken hookups, people getting hurt, confusion and heartbreaks. The underlying psychology of poor choices and insecurity isn’t new.

These new apps allow everyone to seek momentary validation in the form of casual sex with a stranger. Whether it’s the guy who feels more macho after “racking up” conquests, or the gal who feels more attractive because she got to be the prize for the night.

Sure, some women love hookups. But in my experience, women who claim they do are just trying to convince themselves. They sometimes assume that if they stick around long enough, the casual sex will turn into a real relationship. As one young woman puts it in the article: “It’s a contest to see who cares less, and guys win a lot at caring less.”

If dating sucks for women, that’s because they allow themselves to play by the guys’ rules.

If you are on these dating apps, the game is different for men and women. Men “rack up” as many sexual partners as they can. Women try not to lose the person they’re “hooking up” with. How can you possibly win a game with different rules? You can’t.

And this game is rigged for guys. The sex center of the male brain is much larger than that of the female brain. Guys think about sex more often. And casual sex works better for men. Yet women engage in it, and then bitch about how hard it is to find a great guy. As long as there are women willing to engage in hookups, there will be guys on these apps.

If you want a relationship, remember this: The men you meet on Tinder most likely are not available; they are there prowling and looking for some fun. No matter how good you are in the sack, or how well you play by the rules, you are not going to turn a casual encounter into a meaningful relationship. This is not to say all men on Tinder just want something casual, but use common sense.

So are we living in the “dating apocalypse”? We’ll have to see.

One of the greatest lines I’ve ever heard about dating was from a scene in “Sex in the City.” Essentially: Men are like cabs – they are only available if their light is on.

Miranda: Men are like cabs. When they’re available their light goes on. They wake up one day, they decide they are ready to settle down, have babies, whatever, and they turn their light on. The next woman they pick up, boom, that’s the one they’ll marry. It’s not fate. It’s dumb luck.

Charlotte: Sorry, I refuse to believe that love is that random.

Miranda: It’s all about timing. You gotta get them when their light’s on.

Carrie: Most men I meet are flashing yellows.

Miranda: Or off duty. They can drive around for years picking up women and not be available.

Without a willing passenger, a taxi driver drives around alone. It’s the passenger who holds the power and decides whether or not to accept the ride.

If you use these dating apps, use them for the casual experience and learn from it. But stop complaining about the fact that no one wants to date you. Keep in mind that not everyone is on these apps, so stop telling yourself that you’re not meeting people. And even if your soul mate is on Tinder at this moment, his light isn’t on – he’s not ready for you, yet.

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