Dating Apps Have Made Women Too Picky For The Wrong Reasons

By Gwen Farrell
·  6 min read
shutterstock 2108513861 (1)

The proliferation of apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble has both introduced ease and convenience to modern dating while unfortunately giving women a false sense of security. For every man who’s not the right fit, there are dozens more who could be, right?

But what if we’re looking for a potential mate on dating apps, and we just keep coming up short? Millions of people are using dating apps in the U.S., but we just can’t seem to find Mr. Right, no matter how many apps we download and how many guys we swipe right on. Unfortunately, the approach we take with regard to using apps to find boyfriends or even potential husbands has now bled over into how we approach all aspects of dating, oftentimes with negative consequences. The truth is, dating apps have made women too picky for all the wrong reasons. 

How Dating Has Evolved with Modernity

If you’re young, single, and feel as though you’re not meeting people, you inevitably download a dating app. For many, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

It’s really difficult to be your genuine, authentic self online, and if it’s true for you, it’s true for others as well. Think about it. We might swipe left on a guy because he seems bland and boring, but if we met him in a social situation far away from the ambiguity of the internet, would we feel differently?

Women are critical creatures, and this brave new world of dating has only exacerbated that trait. When we meet someone in person, it’s very easy to be specific about what exactly we liked and didn’t like about them. Maybe they made an offhand comment that was offensive, or drank too much, or were impolite to our friends. On a dating app, that ability to discern is almost nonexistent, so we resort to other means of evaluating them: weird hair, gives off jerk vibes, creepy smile, etc., etc.

Women spend more time on the profiles they find unattractive than those they find attractive.

Since the beginning of civilization, women have been the primary mate selectors and sexual initiators. This was effective when it came to choosing from a pool of neanderthals, but now that mate selection has moved almost entirely online, that ability to choose is colored by the awkwardness, inaccuracy, and lack of integrity of the internet.

So He’s Not 6 Feet Tall 

You might have had certain characteristics of your ideal guy in mind when you first got on Tinder or Hinge, for example. But over time, swipe after swipe, day after day with no success, you might find yourself swiping right less and less. Our mind does a quick mental catalog of attributes when confronted with a few photos and often poorly-written blurbs about a complete stranger’s identity. The photos alone might be enough to turn us off completely: too short. Too old. Too much facial hair. Weird teeth. Why are there girls in all of these pictures?

The psychology of what makes us swipe left or right is pretty fascinating, as you might imagine. It’s surprising, but one study found that both men and women spend more time on the profiles they find unattractive and end up swiping left on than the profiles they find attractive. Women specifically, on average, spend almost 7 seconds on the unattractive profiles, versus 3.19 seconds on the profiles they like and end up swiping right on. The theory behind this, explains researcher Jon Levy from the Kellogg School of Management, is often “a desire for more information.” Or, basically, what makes this person so unattractive to me?

Men and women approach these situations differently. Women tend to be more discerning about profiles they find puzzling, while it takes men little to no time at all to pinpoint what exactly they find attractive or unattractive about a profile. 

Dating apps operate more or less on making snap judgments based on physical appearance alone, and being attracted to a person is a crucial and often underappreciated component of a romantic pursuit. But are the arbitrary attributes we’ve come to prefer now dictating all of our decision-making?

What Do You Bring to the Table?

The running joke is that needlessly picky women will only date men who are “6 feet tall, make six figures, and have a six pack” and throw the other poor schlubs away for not meeting this arguably insane criteria. If you’re judging your online dating pool by factors like height, education or income, and other hyper-specific or particular factors, do you also meet those same standards?

If we hold others to high standards, it’s only fair we hold ourselves to them as well.

If we hold others to high standards, it’s only fair we hold ourselves to them as well. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to demand that potential mates meet XYZ and fail to put effort into those areas of our own life. We might think that because of dating apps – where it’s possible to meet any guy of any age, anywhere in the country – we have unlimited options, but if we’re bringing an undeserved sense of entitlement to these approaches, our pool will narrow considerably. If we find something wrong with every potential match, the pool might empty altogether.

It’s important to have expectations, and any person on a dating app has some standards. Topics like individual values, politics, religion or faith, and the importance of family might be just a few examples of characteristics you wouldn’t budge on when it comes to a potential boyfriend. However, there’s a distinct difference between non-negotiable items and criteria that isn’t absolutely integral to fundamental attraction and the quality of a relationship. Just because he might take a bad photo here and there or only posts pictures of him while hiking doesn’t mean he’s a bad match for you.

Closing Thoughts

We’re spoiled for choice these days when it comes to potential ways to meet dates and boyfriends. We might even think that our own weird set of rules is protecting us from a bad guy, when in reality, it might be holding us back from a good thing (potentially even our husband). If there’s ever an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and take a chance – especially where the stakes are considerably lower than an in-person meeting – it’s on a dating app. The very worst they could do is not swipe on you, and then you know for sure the mutual attraction isn’t there. But otherwise, you just might be surprised at what you find.

Don’t miss anything! Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get curated content weekly!