CV NEWS FEED // Millennials and Generation-Z (Gen Z) college graduates are increasingly disinterested in dating apps as they search for long-term, meaningful relationships, according to a recent report by the secular online newsletter Bustle.
“Once a staple of the 20-something experience, these apps are now playing catch-up by rolling out new features and aiming to reshape their reputations — at least, they’re trying to,” Kate Lindsay wrote for Bustle on January 8:
Millennials are tired of dating apps, and Gen Z singles might not bother with them. A 2023 survey of college and graduate students found 79% don’t use dating apps even once a month.
These companies are feeling the shift: Match Group (which owns apps Tinder, Hinge, Match.com, and OkCupid, among others) has seen its stock price drop 40% in the past year. Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd stepped down in November after 10 years at the app, while Feeld is struggling through a disastrous rebrand.
Lindsay argued that the “golden age” of dating apps has come to an end, and that “the novelty has worn off. Millennials still toiling away on the apps are getting fatigued.”
One potential factor affecting the apps’ decline in popularity, Lindsay noted, is that an increasing number of Millennials and Gen-Zers decline to pay on the app for more exclusive features.
“While the most popular dating apps remain free to download, almost all encourage users to pay a monthly subscription in exchange for perks such as unlimited likes and tools to boost how often you appear in other users’ feeds. However, swipers appear reluctant to fork up,” Lindsay wrote:
Match Group saw its paying users decline for the fourth straight quarter, and a 2023 Pew Research study found that while 41% of online dating users age 30 or older have paid for the apps, just 22% of users under 30 — the demographic they’re looking to court — have done the same.
However, the paid option of the apps is just a surface-level problem for the users, Lindsay wrote, and the real issue “runs deeper.”
“Dating apps may be facing the consequences of a culture they helped create,” Lindsay wrote. “They know their reputation is dragging, and in response to this disillusionment, they’ve had to get strategic about their place in the larger world of dating.”
According to recent data, much of Gen Z is searching for “long-term relationships,” yet the original branding of many of the apps encouraged a cheap hookup culture. Now these apps have to “[reinvent themselves] for hookup-adverse Gen Z by pivoting to a focus on love,” Lindsay wrote.
Lindsay added “Perhaps in reaction to the COVID isolation of the past few years, some users want apps to help them meet people [in real life].”
“In 2023, Tinder created the Single Summer Series, hosting dating events across the country to take the pressure off one-on-one dates. Bumble similarly hosts Bumble IRL, and Hinge recently announced a $1 million fund to help Gen Z connect in person,” Lindsay concluded:
Without a dramatic cultural shift, dating apps remain the most obvious option for someone in pursuit of romantic connection — even if the pursuit is futile.
While millennials have spent years sheepishly admitting they found love on the apps, perhaps in a few years’ time, Gen Z will be bragging that they actually did.