Research Shows Women On Dating Apps Look For Men Who Exhibit Attributes Of "Stable Relationships" But Men Focus "Almost Exclusively" On Women's Looks

The data suggests that people on Tinder "perform conventional gender scripts that are typical of the heteronormative model of intimate relationships.”

By Gina Florio2 min read
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Shutterstock/Andrii Medvediuk

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern dating, digital platforms have become a vital component in the quest for love and companionship. As per recent studies, it is estimated that nearly 40 million American adults use dating apps each month, indicating an undeniable shift in the dating paradigm. Dating apps have significantly democratized the dating scene, offering a diverse array of platforms catering to various demographics, preferences, and objectives. Among these, a few stand out for their sheer popularity and success rates. As of 2023, Tinder remains the most widely used dating app, closely followed by Bumble and Hinge. The app is known for its easy-to-use interface and "swipe right" culture, and boasts a user base of over 50 million people globally.

Despite the widespread use of dating apps, their effectiveness in fostering long-term relationships is a topic of much debate. A 2020 study by Pew Research Center found that 12% of U.S. adults reported marrying or entering into a committed relationship with someone they met through a dating app. However, dating apps aren’t without their challenges. Users often have to navigate issues such as misrepresentation, cyber harassment, and the paradox of choice. Yet, the enduring popularity of these platforms indicates their ability to meet a societal need.

Research Shows Women and Men on Dating Apps Prioritize Different Attributes in the Opposite Sex

Twitter user Alexander, @datepsych, often posts content about dating, relationships, and the natural relationship between masculinity and femininity. He recently shared a study that involved 37 interviews of heterosexual users of Tinder, showing that men and women are often looking for different things in the opposite sex.

"Women are more selective when picking matches than men, and when they make these selections, they pay special attention to male attributes that are typically associated with maintaining stable relationships," researchers wrote. "In contrast, men tend to focus almost exclusively on physical appearance."

That's not to say that women don't want a good-looking man, but it's more important for them to find a man who is going to be with them long term and provide them with stability. Men, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with a woman's looks. While they are likely also looking for a good personality and various virtues, the number one thing on their mind is finding an attractive partner, which makes sense biologically as they want to be with a woman who will give them good-looking, healthy children.

Alexander also points out that the younger men on Tinder are looking for casual sex. He shares a chart that reveals people's motivations for using the app. "This is highly consistent with pretty much all of the past research on dating app use motivations," he tweets. "Relatively few people report seeking casual sex. And a lot of women report 'entertainment' or some other nonrelationship motive."

"A lot of the male dating app discourse is 'I get no matches' but a flip side for the 'gets matches' crowd is that you will run into a lot of women who are only on apps to chat," he continues. "Also women who have zero interest in either casual sex or relationship formation."

Alexander also says that, when he was using dating apps, he anecdotally noticed that many women weren't really interested in ever meeting the guy in person. These women want to have "some kind of social interaction," but they aren't keen to start a relationship or hookup with anyone either.

"Eventually I learned to just ask very early on (within the first day or so of matching) to meet up. That will filter out people who aren't motivated right away," he tweets.

The study concluded that people on Tinder "perform conventional gender scripts that are typical of the heteronormative model of intimate relationships." Although these interviews were only conducted on Tinder users, it's safe to say that many users of apps like Bumble and Hinge also use these platforms in similar ways. While it may seem shallow that men are primarily looking for a physically beautiful woman, it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't care about anything else. Rather, they are biologically wired to seek out women who will offer them beauty and femininity, which inherently precedes healthy mothers and children.

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