Dating apps haven’t ruined happy marriages or our ability to commit – but they can have an unexpected side effect. According to experts, the immediacy of online dating makes it easier to cheat.
Instead of deliberately going to a bar and looking for someone else, you can convince yourself that you’re just “playing around” on the app.
I recently read an article in The Atlantic, about the way dating apps have (and haven’t) revolutionised love in the last half-decade.
Author Ashley Fetters cites two expert opinions on a hotly contested topic: whether online dating has ruined long-term love. Both suspect it has not. That’s because, once you’re in a happy relationship, you tend to become less interested in other potential partners, even if they’re only a swipe away in your pocket.
But online dating has, one expert suggested, made it easier to leave unhappy relationships. According to Eli Finkel, a psychologist at Northwestern University and a professor at the Kellogg School of Management and the author of “The All-or-Nothing Marriage,” there was a time when, if you wanted to meet someone else, you’d have to get dressed up and go to a bar.
Now, Finkel said, “you can just tinker around, just for a sort of a goof; swipe a little just ’cause it’s fun and playful. And then it’s like, oh – [suddenly] you’re on a date.”
Presumably, Finkel is referring to more neutral apps like Tinder and OKCupid, and not services like Ashley Madison, which is designed explicitly to facilitate affairs.
A few years ago, psychotherapist and relationship expert David Kavanagh was quoted saying something similar in The Independent: Infidelity is hardly new, but dating apps have made it easier for people who are unhappy in their relationships to find someone else.
That is to say, instead of digging in and trying to work on the relationship, they allow their gaze to wander.
Meanwhile, other relationship experts have noted that technological advances make “emotional affairs” – or feelings of attraction without physical intimacy – more tempting to fall into.
So is online dating (and technology in general) ruining our chances of getting into a happy relationship in the first place? Probably not.
Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and the chief scientific adviser to dating site Match, has told The Atlantic that, contrary to popular opinion, “the vast majority of people on the internet, even on Tinder, are looking for a long-term, committed relationship.” They’re just being cautious about choosing a partner.
Thanks to online dating, Fisher said, “I think we’re going to see more stable partnerships and marriages.”
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.