Calvin swipes left on dating apps

Like any college community, there is a lot of dating on the Calvin University campus. In a digital era and in a Christain community, how much do Calvin students use dating apps to pursue romance? 

As it turns out, not as much as one might think. When asked about their use of dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Christian Mingle, most students replied that they either shy away from online dating, or merely use the apps to talk to people “for fun.” .

According to one student, dating apps are “definitely not the most effective way of dating,” a theme which seemed to resonate throughout the students interviewed on the topic. 

Many students responded that they simply see dating apps as a place to find people to talk to, not a place to find a real relationship. 

An anonymous student, currently in her junior year, said, “it’s easier to meet people through online media, but I don’t think a lot of times, in what I have experienced, you can find a sustainable, long-term relationship.” Some said that they stay away from online dating because they prefer not to run into people that they know from classes or living communities on campus. 

Others had the opposite view, and they mentioned going onto dating apps just out of curiosity to see who they know or to find friends, especially in a new area. Several male students interviewed also mentioned using the app with friends as a game or competition to see who could get the most matches. 

One anonymous student mentioned that his friends had made him a Tinder bio while on a road-trip in order to stay entertained while travelling. Several students tended to use dating apps in a more recreational sense, gathering with friends to see who they know on Tinder or other apps, and striking up conversations online, without any intention of finding romantic relationships. 

Even among more serious app users, many students interviewed used the app only intermittently. Several students said they only use the app during the summer, activating the account when they are no longer busy with studies. Others said they delete Tinder when they are bored with it, having swiped through all available prospects. They then re-download the app when they are looking to date again or for a confidence boost. 

However, some Calvin students see dating apps, especially Tinder, in a different light. Many are concerned that the strong majority of app users using it exclusively to find hookups is unhealthy, as is the looks-based format of the app. One anonymous source pointed out that it is nearly impossible to pick up on someone’s personality through their bio description. He went on to say, “It’s degrading, isn’t it? You look at a girl and you don’t know anything about her and you swipe based on [her] looks…” 

Another anonymous student, a junior, also noted that it’s very easy for online dating users to be untruthful in how they present themselves. “I think sometimes people put up a fake façade online and when you meet them in person they aren’t as funny or entertaining as you thought they would be,” she said. Several students said they see dating apps as “really impersonal.” 

With so much negativity, are dating apps actually worthwhile, especially in such a small college community? According to many Calvin students, that depends on what you are looking for and how you use the service. “[Dating apps] are a great way to meet cool people you wouldn’t meet otherwise,” said first-year Sara Harris.

 Like many Tinder and Bumble users, she downloaded Bumble as a joke, but ended up going on a pleasant date as a result of an online match. Harris said she recommends other students try dating apps, but to be careful online. Several students agreed with Harris, saying that they do believe apps like Tinder are worthwhile, simply as a way to meet new people or to broaden one’s dating pool. 

In addition, one senior student pointed out that Tinder is a very useful tool for people within the LGBTQ community who struggle to find relationships within their community. This is especially true on a strongly Christian campus where there is still a lingering stigma around LGBTQ relationships. 

 “I think we have a culture of purity that extends to things it doesn’t need to,” one anonymous student pointed out. “That includes online dating. I think if people were a little more open minded about the fact that this is something that Christians can do, it would be utilized a lot better.”