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Do people have faith in dating apps?

Research says the answer

FILE - The icon for the Tinder dating app appears on a device.Patrick Sison/Associated Press

Love Letters

The Love Letters newsletter arrives in inboxes every other week, with news, reviews, stories and more for fans of the Love Letters column and podcast. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s newsletter:

Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day (that’s what Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon renames Valentine’s Day on “30 Rock”).

To celebrate, let’s consider our favorite activity: dating on apps. (Please read that to yourself in a sarcastic voice.)

Last week, Kathryn Coduto, an assistant professor of media science at Boston University, worked with the market research company Ipsos to survey 1,000 people about how they feel about online dating. It was a BU Media & Technology Survey that Coduto hoped would help determine whether people have faith in apps – and how and why they used them.


The big takeaway from the results? People don’t have faith in apps! (Insert feigned surprise.) Sixty percent of respondents said they believed that most people lie on dating apps. Most people also agreed that there are too many bots. Also, when people were asked whether they thought apps were the “best way to find a successful relationship,” it was an emphatic “no,” by a three-to-one margin.

But ... people reported that they are still using the apps. Most people said they believe that one can find love on an app.

To me, all of this is good news.

Basically, a LOT of people who think apps are full of lies and not the best use of time are still on them. Which means those people might find each other.

It’s not so different than standing in the corner of a crowded, gross bar – or a mediocre party – and knowing that others are there, maybe standing in the corner, rolling their eyes just like you.

I don’t think that we – as a collective – have a ton of faith in any one method of finding quality romance. But on this Anna Howard Shaw Day, it’s nice to know that the majority of the people who took the Boston University survey are still open to a good experience, and still trying.


Coduto, who started focusing her academic work on dating apps after the start of the pandemic, agrees that the results of the survey are weirdly positive, despite all of the cynicism.

“It’s just a tool,” she said of apps. “And, you know, tools are what you make of them. If you download a dating app and think it’s going to solve all your problems, that’s probably not realistic, right? But I think that if you download it and you’re like, ‘OK, there’s gotta be someone else [here] with like healthy skepticism – someone else with a similar mindset’ – to me, that is very different.”

Coduto said she’ll keep me posted as she does more research about how people meet and fall in love. Right now, she’s also interested in how people communicate at the next level, when they leave the app. When and why do people jump to to email, text, or Snapchat? (If you’re Gen Z, she says, that’s where the real talk happens.)

A letter from Meredith.The Boston Globe

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