Seduced by Swiping

technology and love

By: Elizabeth Edge, LCSW, CSAT

Vanity Fair’s article “Tinder is the Night” by Nancy Jo Sales speaks to the culture of quick hookups through online apps such as Tinder. One-night stands and quick sexual fixes seem to be what our society is looking for based on this article.  However, I question if that is really what we want.  Is being a “Tinderella” or a “Tinderfella” all that is left to hope for in the 21st century?

Many men and women seem to find momentary comfort in these dating apps only to be disappointed when their matches don’t really match.  There is a high value on these sites for superficiality and instant gratification.  Despite the talk amongst friends (“I don’t do Tinder,” “you can’t meet anyone on Tinder,” and “it is just a hookup site”) many retreat back to the dating apps in a lonely moment—finding quick comfort swiping left and right to get a temporary high or validation they are attractive.

Kelly McDaniel wrote in her book Ready to Heal: Women Facing Love, Sex, and Relationship Addiction that sex and love addiction is a “disease of loneliness…a profound inability to attach to another person…the confusion of intensity for intimacy…the attachment to a chemical high of falling in love or sex but not the person.”  With this definition, it appears that dating apps provide the perfect platform for the growth of addiction.  Tinder allows for the promise of a new match, the hope that the next match will be different, the false hope that the next swipe will be “the one.”

Dating apps lend themselves to fantasy and the fostering of contradictions.  To play “the game” young women may compromise their own desires.   They might verbalize their needs and wants, but they do not act in a way that backs up their needs. Women promising themselves and the hookup partner that she does not want to have sex, but then hours later leaving the bedroom after having done so. People stating they do not want to be sexually objectified, but then sending sexually suggestive photos.  If this were successful, then there would not be the sadness and the loneliness and the complaints of empty relationships where nothing feels satisfying and the craving for more continues.  What can fulfill that urge?  Will there ever be enough if we can move on so quickly with a swipe? There will always be more and better out there—with the next version or upgrade just a swipe away.

Is there a solution to the dissatisfaction? How do you say what you want in on line dating and get the respect you want? I encourage clients to identify their fantasy they create for themselves and others as well as look at the contradictions they project.  One cannot live in alignment with values if you are not aware of the behavioral contradictions.  The goal is to project and live in alignment with your own beliefs and desires.  To demand more respect, women can set and keep boundaries that align with their true needs and wants instead of compromising themselves for the sake of “the game.”

I believe as both women and men demand more respect for themselves and each other, the idea of Tinderella and Tinderfella will be thing of the past.  People will look to each other in a partnership not just as a way to fulfill a momentary desire.




McDaniel, Kelly. (2008) Ready to Heal: Women Facing Love, Sex, and Relationship Addiction.

Sale, Nancy Jo. “Tinder is the Night”.  Vanity Fair September 2015 (244-251).

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