Modern dating can be severed into two eras: before the swipe, and after

By 2017, about five years after Tinder introduced the swipe, more than a quarter of different-sex couples were meeting on apps and dating websites, according to a study led by the Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld. Suddenly, saying “We met on Hinge” was as normal as saying “We met in college” or “We met through a friend.”

Last week, he published an op-ed headlined “Dating Apps Are the Best Place to Find Love, No Matter What You See on TikTok

The share of couples meeting on apps has remained pretty consistent in the years since his 2017 study, Rosenfeld told me. But these days, the mood around dating apps has soured. As the apps seek to woo a new generation of daters, TikTok abounds with complaints about how hard it is to find a date on Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Grindr, and all the rest. The novelty of swiping has worn off, and there hasn’t been a major innovation beyond it. As they push more paid features, the platforms themselves are facing rocky finances and stalling growth. Dating apps once looked like the foundation of American romance. Now the cracks are starting to show.

In 2022, a Pew Research Center survey found that about half of people have a positive experience with online dating, down from . With little success on the apps, a small but enthusiastic slice of singles are reaching for speed dating and matchmakers.