Tinder: Is It About Love, Or Lust?

Dating used to be really hard. REALLY hard. It involved, like, talking to people and networking. You either had to be so magnetically attractive that potential partners would just gravitate towards you, so charming that you could talk the beak off a duck, marry someone you went to school with, or someone you met through a work colleague. Or through dating videos, which is astonishing to me.

Sorry about that. But hey, cringing is good for your kegels. How did anyone ever get laid in the 80s?

Anyway, you could make the argument the Tinder (other dating apps are available) is simply an evolution of things like dating videos and lonely-hearts ads. I thank that’s true – Tinder is just a streamlined, pared down version of it, but the result is the same.

But what Tinder represents is an increasing emphasis on physical attraction and, by extension, personal branding. Rather than longer profiles and more personal information, Tinder’s process involves a glance at a couple of photos while you’re on the loo, and then an immediate ‘hmm…’ or ‘nahh’.

So, is that a good basis for finding love, or is it by definition only lust?

A recent study identified six primary reasons people use Tinder. Love came third. Guess what was first? NOPE, WRONG. It’s ‘the thrill of excitement.’ Casual sex was fifth on the list. Either our preconceptions about Tinder are wrong, or a lot of people are lying.

The research showed one interesting thing: that the people who were looking for love were FAR more likely to actually meet a match than people looking for casual sex. (Incidentally, people who said they were looking to meet people and make friends almost never actually meet people. BOMBSHELL.)

Despite love being the more important motivation than sex, research also showed that people who use Tinder are more likely to have risk-taking sex (like unprotected sex, or drug taking) than those who don’t use it. So… I guess the hot take is that Tinder users are looking for love, but are also perverts? Nasty love-seekers? That was the name of my band in high school.

Perhaps my favorite statistic, by the way, was that 64% of Tinder users know someone in an exclusive relationship who also use Tinder.

I have a sneaky feeling that the participants in the research weren’t giving entirely honest answers. When a man in a labcoat holding a clipboard asks you why you use Tinder, how likely are you to blurt out, “I JUST WANNA GET LAID!”

There’s a flaw in the study though. If the premise is, ‘do you use Tinder for love, or sex?’ then it misses out on a central truth: love and sex are not mutually exclusive. In fact, one can lead to the other, and vice versa.

Put it this way. I hooked up with a girl from Tinder on my fucking lunch break. It doesn’t get more casual than that. We’ve been together for four years now.

Written by: Stuart Nugent

With 16 years in the adult industry, including many years at LELO, it's fair to say Stu has been around the sex toy block a few times. As LELO's resident sex geek, he's been featured in the Independent, the Guardian, HuffPost, Vice, Cosmopolitan, and anywhere people talk about sex. Here on Volonte, he turns his spotlight onto the important events affecting sex right now in a regular op-ed. Views are his own.

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