Dating apps flop era

This is why dating apps are in their flop era right now, according to an expert

Things have never looked bleaker

I’ve had dating apps on-and-off for the past five years. So I feel qualified to say, right now, the scene is worse than ever. Hinge, Tinder, Raya and Bumble have reached new levels of dire: Abysmal at best, throw-your-phone-at-the-wall at worst. And there has to be an explanation.

Hinge, it tells us, is “designed to be deleted” and this is very true. Just not, unfortunately, when you’ve found the love of your life but, instead, when you’ve reached your absolute limit with how disappointing your “most compatible” selection is. You used to be able to swipe your way through your Sunday scaries – but now the digital dating hellscape just makes them worse.

Honestly the state of affairs is so bad, one study found 79 per cent of students don’t use date apps even once a month. Speak to any single friend and they’ll say the same thing: “Mate, it’s dead. Nobody wants to go on dates on Hinge. Nobody speaks on Raya,” one told me. “It’s even worse in Australia,” added another, who’d just travelled across planet earth and still can’t find anybody actually shaggable via swiping.

Last November, Bumble’s founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd stepped down after 10 years at the helm of the female-first app. Meanwhile, Match Group (owners of Tinder, Hinge,, and OkCupid) have seen their stock price drop by 40 per cent. Essentially, we’re in a very serious romance recession.

So, just remember, it’s not you— it’s them. Now, let’s ask a dating expert what the hell is going on:

Right, why are dating apps so chronically in their flop era at the moment?

The novelty has worn off

It is a possibility that, after years and years on swiping on the same platforms, we’re all just sick and tired of online dating. The honeymoon period of Hinge has passed and now all we want is a divorce. As one now viral TikTok put it: “If you met your partner on a dating app two years ago, you caught the last chopper out of ‘Nam.”

“When we have been on dating apps for a long time, it is also easy for your skepticism to grow but we have to remember that if you are looking for a monogamous relationship, it only takes one good encounter and also that it should be hard to find someone compatible,” claims Life Coach and Boundaries Expert Michelle Elman.

“If you think about how many of your friends who you can live with and travel with, that will already whittle down your friendship group quite a lot and within romance, you are adding sexual compatibility, life values and long term desires like marriage and kids…There seems to be greater interest in taking things offline faster and therefore the dating apps that are most popular seem to revolve around in person dating like Thursday.”

Money, money, money 

Arguably the most frustrating part about dating apps is that all of the hot people are locked in jail. Specifically, the Hinge Standouts section. You can send one rose per week to said Standouts (which nobody does because if you have to look that keen things are dead before they’ve begun) or, buy more roses to send to all the people you could most probably pull anyway if you were to just meet them in a bar.

“Most dating apps seem to be capitalising on the fact that they have so many users and so it’s less that payment leads to more success but more so that the apps are limiting your reach on purpose to incentivise you to pay for the access that you previously would have had,” says Michelle of the paid-for app evolution. “Of course if you are being seen by more eyes, the chance of matching someone is higher.”

Nobody is putting in any effort

“I’m overly competitive about…everything”, “The best way to ask me out? Just ask me”, “Typical Sunday? Having a roast”. It’s miraculous we’re all still looking for love and haven’t actually keeled over from boredom such is the sorry state of affairs online right now. We’ve seen all the answers before. Yawn, yawn, yawn.

“The nature of dating apps means we can all become a little too judgemental and swipe with haste,” warns Michelle. “I warn against this because as much as dating profiles can tell you a lot, not everyone is so experienced at creating a perfect dating profile and we have to recognise that as a separate skill to actually being good to date.

So – bearing in mind we’ll all complain about dating apps until we’re blue in the face but still use them until we take our dying breath – what’s the best way forwards? “Stop setting the goal to find a forever love and instead set the goal to simply having a good night,” Michelle suggests. “The reason why we feel disheartened is because we are coming off dates feeling like a failure if we haven’t secured a second date but if you had a good time and you learned something new or even might have tried a new restaurant, how was the night a failure?”

No boyfriend to tell your grandma about but you’ll have more restaurant recommendations than Jay Rayner. Perfect.

Related stories recommended by the writer:

• Warning: All of the innocent behaviour that could get you banned from Hinge 

• Hinge questions: The best profile answers to get the most matches

• Hinge reveals which questions get the most responses