Pixabay.com
Pixabay.com

Dating sites and apps are for dating, right? You create your profile, cross your fingers while you hope for some good matches and then swipe until you meet your soulmate. That is how online dating works, right? After all, finding your soulmate is the point of setting up an online profile.

Once, this was true. Online dating was seen as a shortcut to meeting the one for you. You could skip the awkward small talk and uncomfortable coffee dates that were part of in person dating. Online profiles let you know whether or not you had anything in common with a person before you were three dates in and bored out of your mind. Online dating was simply a shortcut to marriage. Once smartphones became commonplace, dating apps were created to serve the same purpose. Dating apps, however, were not used to find soulmates as much as they were used by singles to find brief flings and hookup partners. Tinder and OkCupid gained a reputation for being apps all about finding sexual partners. The two companies spent some time denying it and trying to push a more mainstream use. Today, however, they have simply embraced their reputation for creating brief flings and are, if anything, encouraging such usage.

Advertisements for Tinder and OkCupid have recently stopped focusing on love or partnership. Instead, they are essentially selling singledom. “Single is a terrible thing to waste” says a recent Tinder ad, and OkCupid’s messages in their “down to” campaign have focused on activities a couple might do together such as “down to farmer’s market.” Rather than aiming to help people find soulmates, Tinder and OkCupid are keeping their users searching longer and raking in the dough as users comply. Hence the ad campaign that implies that finding love before 30 would be squandering your freedom.

Freedom itself, however, has become a bit of a touchy topic on the dating sites. OkCupid had several ads pulled do to their overly political content. Regardless of whether you vote blue or red, alienating roughly half of America with unwanted political advertising is not a great plan. That said, politics have become an important part of dating on the apps. Many singles have no interest in dating someone who does not agree with their political opinions, and that attitude shows in the 1,000 percent increase in political terms being used in dating profiles.

For those looking for soulmates online, Match.com and eHarmony continue to focus on trying to make lasting connections. For those more interested in casual relationships, Tinder and OkCupid remain the place to go. Whether that new attitude will be sustainable for the companies remains to be seen. It could be the end of the two dating apps, or it could be the beginning of a brand new niche.

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