Wood’s work that is academic dating apps is, it’s well worth mentioning, one thing of a rarity within the broader research landscape. One big challenge of knowing how dating apps have actually affected dating behaviors, as well as in writing a story like that one, is the fact that these types of apps have actually only been with us for half of a decade—hardly long enough for well-designed, relevant longitudinal studies to even be funded, not to mention carried out.
Of course, perhaps the absence of hard data hasn’t stopped dating experts—both social individuals who study it and people who do lots of it—from theorizing. There’s a popular suspicion, for example, that Tinder and other dating apps might create people pickier or more reluctant to be in about the same monogamous partner, a theory that the comedian Aziz Ansari spends a great deal of the time on in their 2015 guide, contemporary Romance, written with the sociologist Eric Klinenberg.
Eli Finkel, nevertheless, a teacher of therapy at Northwestern and also the composer of The All-or-Nothing Marriage, rejects that notion. “Very smart folks have expressed concern that having such easy access makes us commitment-phobic,” he claims, “but I’m not actually that worried about it.” Research indicates that people who locate a partner they’re really into quickly become less interested in alternatives, and Finkel is keen on a belief expressed in a 1997 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology paper about them: “Even if the grass is greener somewhere else, delighted gardeners might not notice.”
Like the anthropologist Helen Fisher, Finkel believes that dating apps have actuallyn’t changed delighted relationships much—but he does think they’ve lowered the limit of when you should leave an unhappy one.