Dating apps seem to be a permanent part of the cultural landscape, including specially targeted ones parsing their users by faith, professional achievement and farmer status. But even though online dating tips and Hinge prompts are ordinary conversation fodder between friends, there are some indications that dating apps (which arguably reached critical mass when Tinder was introduced in 2013) might be on the way out. Specifically, Gen Z is rejecting dating apps and share prices of dating app companies are falling. Why can this be, and what’s going to replace all that swiping?
Let’s leave aside the lures and snares of actually using the apps for a moment and look at the user data. A nationwide Axios survey of 978 college-age people revealed that 79 percent of respondents did not use a dating app regularly, and more than half met their most recent significant other in person—35 percent in school, 14 percent through mutual friends and 15 percent randomly in person. That doesn’t bode well for the apps’ immediate future, because the rest of the Gen Z cohort (they’re currently between 11 and 26 years old) is coming of dating age within the next ten years.
Further, these big companies’ bottom lines don’t look so hot. When Bumble went public in early 2021, its share price was around $70; at publication time, it’s hovering at $14. As for Match Group, the parent company of apps including Tinder and Hinge? Its stock plunged 68 percent in the last year, after having fallen precipitously in price the previous year also.