Dating and the Digital World: A Match Made in Heaven?

Do you remember how your grandparents met?

I remember how mine did. It’s a funny story.

In Scotland sometime in the 1940s, my grandad first spotted my nanna in church on Sundays. He liked her because she had really blue eyes. But also she had a kind of snooty manner as she went in line to get her communion.

It made her seem like a challenge.

He said he often thought, ‘Just who the hell does she think she is?’

One night she was walking arm-in-arm with another guy on a date, and my granddad jumped out and argued that she should ‘go with’ him instead.

Surprised but delighted, she agreed. She’d always liked him too from afar.

Decades of a happy marriage ensued.

Maybe that seems kind of ‘animal kingdom’ now, but it’s just the way old-school romance was done back then. In that black-and-white wartime era, it wasn’t all flowers and cute notes.

People showed grandiose displays of passion and really got stuck on one person…and then chased them to the very end! Men and women had war to contend with. They wanted to make babies. Get a house and get set up nice and early.

Marriage and kids weren’t life events to be delayed (like they are for so many young people nowadays). They were the most important life events, rushed into with a sense of gleeful abandon.

Maybe that’s similar to how your parents met, or perhaps even how you met your own spouse if you’re so lucky.

But boy oh boy, how things have changed over time!

These days, the kids have it so different. In case you haven’t noticed, dating is now akin to an endless shopping spree.

You can find dates at a whim with nothing more than the swipe of a screen or the click of the button.

Nothing is sacred, if one doesn’t work out there’ll be another, and your perfect match is always just a love heart emoji away.

Teenagers text multiple crushes at once. Why only ‘tune’ one person, when you can diversify your dating portfolio?

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In this era, dating really is a lot like investing.  If you’re going to spend money and time on someone, you want to know you’re getting the best on the market!

And that’s what dating apps and websites help you to decide.

Much like deal comparison sites for travel or insurance, they stack up a bunch of people’s bios on the same platform and let you do the math.

‘Liking’ someone’s photo online is now an expression of interest, and ‘just seeing each other’ has become a new pre-category essential before dating.

Sending someone a direct message is like getting a quote! ‘No binders here — just want to see if you’re worth my efforts.’

My grandparents would be laughing in their graves at how confusing and non-committal the dating scene had truly become!

But maybe I’m waxing nostalgic, here.

After all, finding a mate is serious business. If technology helps us to pick and choose better according to our unique preferences, then what’s the harm?

And as they say, there’s ‘plenty of fish in the sea’…and now the infinitely growing digital universe reminds you of that fact!

But in some ways, it’s sad that technology has changed the way we date.

People seem less comfortable talking about their true feelings face to face than they do over lengthy text messages.

And due to the popularity of image-based dating sites and apps, more and more love-seekers are judging a person solely from how they look in their photographs. Not the content of their character.

Some could say that all this is making us more superficial as a society.

But upon reflection, is dating in the digital age really so different (or even bad) after all?

Let’s take a look at the facts…

Not so different from arranged marriages

When it comes to dating in the digital age, Whitney Wolfe is a household name.

Known as the 21st Century’s ‘most prolific cupid’, she’s co-founder of the infamous dating app Tinder. She’s also the CEO of Bumble, another popular dating app, where the rule is that women have to send the first message.

(My nanna would have disapproved — bless her lovely soul!)

But you can’t deny the success of Wolfe’s endeavours.

Last year, it was reported her digital-dating devices had generated 20 billion matches! Her view is this:

Some people might say app dating has completely revolutionised their life, they’ve found the love of their life and they never would have in a hundred years run into that person.’

It’s a fair point.

In the US, more than a third of marriages now start with a digital match-up.

Furthermore, evidence suggests that marriages in the US between people who meet online are likely to be happier and last longer.

And have things really changed that much?

Check out this advertisement in a London periodical from 1965, as reported by the Economist:

“A gentleman about 30 Years of Age, that says He has a Very Good Estate” […who can offer to] “Willingly match himself to some Good Young Gentlewoman, that has a fortune of £3,000 or thereabouts.”

When you think about, digital dating is merely an upgraded version of an arranged marriage.

Except your parents aren’t doing the matching. Technology is, through using your data to generate tailored matches, and allowing people to essentially advertise themselves on their bios.

Through Tinder, for example, you can set parameters for age, interests, location and even lifestyle habits.

The popular website SeekingArrangement.com allows ‘sugar babies’ to choose from a pool of wealthier potential partners, at the level they desire.

These sophisticated processes could allow people to find ‘the right person’ easier than ever before. And people are clicking like mad.

How AI could help you find your soul mate

295 million people use dating services all around the world.

This number only seems set to grow. Dating apps and sites will need to upgrade their technology over time to support the demand.

Even AI could come into the mix. There are already flirt bots cutting corners with getting numbers (via dating assistant ViDA). And there remains a huge potential for services to access the huge amount of data we share online and find suitable matches based on that.

Almost like a social media and dating app super-convergence! Imagine it.

But that’s providing that what we share online truly represents who we are and what we want. And asking those questions opens up a whole new Pandora’s Box…

If more young people are using dating apps for transient dopamine hits and vanity purposes, then finding a serious life partner could become a very difficult and fruitless game.

But as I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: It’s never technology that’s the problem. It’s how we use it.

Hopefully, dating sites and apps are well aware of these issues, and will continue to optimise their services to help people who deeply want it find meaningful partnerships.

After all, the way we date might have changed, but for many folks, the end goal is the same!

Except they’re no longer asking like Shakespeare did, ‘Can I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ but instead, ‘Can I compare thee to thy much younger looking profile photo?’

I kid. But regardless, we can only wait and see how this exciting market in technology grows from here.

I believe it’s set to skyrocket in some very interesting ways…

Good investing,

Ryan Dinse,
Contributing Editor, Money Morning

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Ryan Dinse is a contributing Editor at Money Morning. He has worked in finance and investing for the past two decades as a financial planner, senior credit analyst, equity trader and fintech entrepreneur. With an academic background in economics, he believes that the key to making good investments is investing appropriately at each stage of the economic cycle. Different market conditions provide different opportunities. Ryan combines fundamental, technical and economic analysis with the goal of making sure you are in the right investments at the right time.  


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