The Commodification of Dating Apps

Love doesn’t cost a thing...or does it?
The default profile picture

Created by Jan123

Published on Jul 5, 2024
person scrolling on dating apps with the pound symbol surrounding their phone

Having talked to a lot of people about their usage of dating apps coupled with my experience has made me realize how they are such a double-edged sword. On one hand, dating apps have been a game changing platform for people to connect with potential partners. On the other hand, the slow but steady phenomenon of romantic prospects being transformed into something to be marketed and "sold" is also somewhat worrying and has definitely impacted how people see romantic connections. I'll be talking more about the commodification of relationships from a personal perspective and a corporate one. 

My understanding that back when dating apps were first introduced on the market, the companies that owned them weren't hyper-focused on profitability yet, but rather testing to see whether such apps would work in the market. Hence, we didn't have all the ridiculous paywalls that we see now. People were free to just connect with others in a simplified way over the apps. It was like old-school dating but just with a larger pool of people at the tip of our fingers. A lot of people definitely found their 'forever partners' back when dating apps were simple and not as mainstream.

As dating apps became more mainstream and more people started using them, I felt like there's been a shift in how people view relationships through them. People on dating apps become reduced to just a picture on a screen rather than being seen a real person. Romantic relationships become transactional interactions characterized by superficial judgements as people are "liked" based on physical attractiveness and witty remarks on profiles that are judged for approval within seconds. 

The gamification of the apps also doesn't help as it turns the pursuit of romantic connection into an endless cycle of swipes and accumulating likes, perpetuating the culture of instant gratification and seeing people as disposable. I personally find that people tend to start thinking that 'the grass is always greener on the other side' as they feel like they will have a lot more options. They don't want to settle and be serious with one person, they just keep looking out for the next best thing and this is damaging. 

And don't get me started on how dating apps can severely impact a person's self-image. It's no secret that many people are on the apps not necessarily to find someone but rather to get a hit of validation which I admit can be very addictive. But it perpetuates this thinking that people are only worth something if they get external validation from others. The amount of likes a person gets or doesn't get can also impact one's self-worth as they might feel like they're not good looking enough or just not interesting enough hence why no one is swiping right on them. In my personal experience, I had women telling me how they were getting a minimum of 100 likes a day which made me feel so inadequate with my maximum of 50 likes a day, and yet there were some that were only getting less than 20, or even none. It just fosters a lot of unnecessary insecurity. 

Now from a corporate perspective, we all know that companies just want to profit and that's what's happening with the dating apps. Over the years, I noticed that dating apps were putting more and more features behind paywalls. A lot of once free simple feature were becoming premium features and a lot of subscription models were introduced. The idea of having to pay and subscribe just for the chance of getting a life partner just shows how intimacy has been commodified to the point of no return. Overall, people's hearts have been reduced to commodities to be bought, sold, and traded in the pursuit of love.

In conclusion, while I do think dating apps have brought a fair bit of good to the world and helped people to meet their other half, I think they have also brought up a whole mess with the culture of commodifying people and romantic connections. I think it's important for people to navigate this landscape carefully and hold onto their own self-worth, self-image and want to forge meaningful connections. 

More for you