Dating and Relationships in Postmodernity

Last Updated on February 9, 2017 by

Tinder and other dating apps certainly seem to be changing the way we meet people in the postmodern age, but does the normalisation of these technologies represent a significant change in the nature of intimate relationships more generally?


Some basic stats on Tinder certainly suggest its use is very widespread, and growing….

  • Tinder boasts 9.6 million daily active users
  • 20% of Tinder users say they’re looking for a hookup, 27% said they’re looking for a significant other, and 53% said they are looking to find friends.
  • Only 13% of Tinder users reported relationships lasting beyond the one month mark.
  • In 2016 Tinder expects to double the number of subscribers it has.
  • On average Tinder Users spend 35 minutes a day on the app and swipe (left or right) 140 times.
  • The Washington Post reported one man’s success rate on Tinder. He swiped right 203,000 times and got 150 first dates. That is a success rate of 0.6%.
  • Tinder is valued at $1.2 billion according to Deutsche Bank.

Qualitative research suggests that there are a diverse number of ways in which people use these dating apps – somewhat obviously the major reason people use them is to to meet people, with the possibility of a hook up, but within this there is a huge variety of experiences – from people who use them several hours a day without a single catch, to those who use them successfully to enrich their sex-lives, or materially, by only dating rich guys who buy them things.

Two interesting documentaries to check out which explore dating apps (albeit in a non-representative way) are the BBC’s ‘addicted to dating apps‘ (only available until November 2016) and Vice’s ‘Mobile Love Industry’


The relationship between Postmodernity, dating apps and changing relationships

The types of relationship facilitated by dating apps certainly illustrate many aspects of life in a postmodern society  – such as individuals having more choice, and relationships being shorter lived, and thus more unstable and more insecure; while the fact that women are just as likely to use them as men demonstrates increasing gender equality and breaking down of traditional gender roles.

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To what extent are dating apps changing intimate relationships?

The question of whether the normalisation of these apps affects relationships and family life more generally remains to be seen – as it stands, it seems that it’s mainly younger people who use these apps before they ‘settle down’, and thus most people see them as something to use in your 20s, before looking for a serious long term partner later on in life.

However, it could be that now these apps offer the possibility of a life of continuous hook-ups, that fewer people see the need to settle down with a life-long partner, but that remains to be seen.

A further question we could ask is whether or not Marxist or Feminist analysis of these dating apps might be applied to better understand their impacts?  To what extent are these apps really about promoting consumption, for example, or to what extent might they perpetuate or challenge traditional gender norms?

Related Posts

Sociological Perspectives on Romance, Love and Modern Relationships

The postmodern perspective on the family

The Late Modern Perspective on the Family

Selected Sources/ further reading

Tinder Facts and Stats

Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse?  Vanity Fair article (2015)



5 thoughts on “Dating and Relationships in Postmodernity”

  1. I am just wondering if this is being discussed/taught in classrooms? I am preparing to begin my Social Science PGCE in 2019- I am currently preparing potential lesson plan ideas etc. Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!

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