Dating & Relationships

This is How Many Tinder Matches It Takes to Get an IRL Date

March 15, 2021 by Justin Lehmiller

One of the things people find appealing about the idea of online dating is that you can potentially meet a much larger number of people online than you can in person. So does this necessarily mean that online dating leads to a much larger number of sexual and relationship partners? Not necessarily.

It turns out that online dating might not be as efficient as you think. This conclusion comes from a recent study of Tinder users, which found that matching with a large number of partners translates to surprisingly few in-person dates.

In this study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, researchers surveyed 269 young adults (average age of 22) in Norway who were either current or former users of the online dating app Tinder. Participants were asked about the number of matches, meet-ups, hook-ups, and long-term relationships they have experienced through the app.

The average number of matches reported by men and women thus far was relatively high: 111 vs. 124, respectively (note that these numbers were not significantly different across gender). However, current users of the app who reported being single had even more matches: 148 for men and 177 for women, on average.

Despite having so many matches, the average number of Tinder meet-ups reported was just 2 for men and women alike. Even when looking only at current users who were single, the average number of meet-ups was 3.

In terms of hookups, just 1 in 5 reported having at least one sexual hookup. Put another way, 80% of users never had sex with anyone they met on Tinder. Of those who did hookup, 65% reported one partner, 15% had two partners, and 20% had more than two.

As for relationships, just 1 in 4 reported having met someone they were potentially interested in having a long-term relationship with.

The overall pattern was such that for every 57 matches, there was just one meet-up (put another way, less than 2% of matches resulted in an in-person meeting). For about every 5 meet-ups, 1 hookup or romantic relationship developed.

It’s also worth noting that the researchers found that most people who had hookups through Tinder were also having hookups outside of the app—and, for the majority of them, Tinder only added one extra partner. So even for people who were successful hooking-up offline, going online didn’t necessarily translate to that much more sex.

Of course, there are some important limitations of this research. One is that it only explored one specific app (Tinder) and we know that there are many, many others—and it’s possible that different apps might have different hit rates. Also, this work only looked at young adults and the researchers did not look at potential differences across sexual orientation

That said, these results will be somewhat surprising to many people in that they challenge the popular idea that online dating/hookup apps lead to substantial increases in sexual behavior.

The authors of this study conclude that: “dating apps such as Tinder are merely a new arena for evolved short-term sexual behavior, rather than a facilitator of new sexual behaviors. Given the current results, we suggest that Tinder indeed seems to provide new sexual opportunities, but mostly for a very small minority…For those who are most successful outside of Tinder, Tinder adds few extra short-term sexual encounters.”

What do you think? Do these results make sense in terms of your own experience? Do you find online dating to be more or less efficient than meeting people in person? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology? Click here for more from the blog or here to listen to the podcast. Follow Sex and Psychology on Facebook, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit to receive updates. You can also follow Dr. Lehmiller on YouTube and Instagram.

To learn more about this research, see: Grøntvedt, T. V., Bendixen, M., Botnen, E. O., & Kennair, L. E. O. (2020). Hook, line and sinker: do tinder matches and meet ups lead to one-night stands?. Evolutionary Psychological Science6(2), 109-118.

Image Source: Photo by Yogas Design on Unsplash

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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