Special Report: Evolution of Love
Dating has come a long way since 1995, when the first main–stream dating website, Match.com was created. Now, according to eHarmony 40 percent of Americans are using online dating sites or apps and 20 percent of current, committed relationships began online.
"I do have a tinder account," said University of Nebraska at Kearney Family Studies junior, Molly Moeller. "I'm not doing too bad, I was seeing a guy off of tinder."
This is her second time on tinder. "I had it first when I was a freshman and it was actually like a joke between me and my friends," said Moeller. "We were going to see who could get the most matches, so that was funny."
According to Dr. Mickey Langlais, an assistant professor of Family Studies at UNK, having the app for this purpose is not uncommon.
"Some people participate in dating apps for entertainment and them some people are just looking to hook up," said Langlais.
Dr. Langlais has been studying social media and its impact on romantic relationships for about five years, with his focus on college students.
"It seems like they like to creep or facebook stalk, whatever you want to call them, romantic partners even though they go to school with them," said Langlais. "From there they try to form a romantic relationship."
According to his research, he said students do this to avoid getting turned down.
"Lets add them as a friend on facebook, add them as a friend on snapchat, follow them on Instagram and just hope something comes about this," said Langlais. "It sort of, from what I've been told, it sort of protects against the safeguards of rejection."
"It's like, oh if we get matched up then oh, they show some initiative to being slightly interested," said Moeller. "It's easier to be like 'Hey, I remember you from high school' and just start a conversation and it just makes it easier to be like 'Oh yeah, we should hang out Friday, go get pizza or something.'"
Dr. Langlais said this fear of rejection could have an impact on the students' futures.
"Rejection is a typical part of life," said Langlais. "People kind of have to go through that, part of maturing, part of growing as a person and if we're protecting against that we're just going to assume that everything is going to be a lot easier."
He also said swiping from the comfort of home can make users lazy "relation–shoppers"
"If they weren't working as hard to form that relationship, they might not work as hard to sustain that relationship," said Langlais. "So, in essence, maybe the quality of relationships might be going down just because we aren't putting in as much effort or at least the younger generation aren't putting in as much effort as a traditional couple might."
Bruce and Judy Schwenk, who have been married for 47 years, agree.
"Commitment maybe is lacking in some of today's marriages," said Judy. "Sometimes it appears it's 'till death us do part unless somebody I like better comes along."
Bruce and Judy have known each other nearly their entire lives, meeting when they were quite young.
"On the school bus on our way to kindergarten," said Bruce. "We went to school together, we were farm kids out here, both northwest of Harvard and we went to Kindergarten together and all the way through 12th grade," said Judy. "However, we didn't start dating till we were juniors in high school."
They said it is compromise and commitment that keeps them happy, but Dr. Langlais said communication is the key to relationship success and feels this suffers when chatting mainly through social media or apps.
"When you're communicating on social media and dating apps, you have plenty time to sort of plan what you're going to say, how to respond, sort of prepare all of that in advance," said Langlais. "In traditional romantic relationships you think on the fly, you think on your spot and it shows more of your character."
Despite all these social media shortcomings, Dr. Langlais said there are some benefits to online dating, especially in rural areas.
"It helps individuals who are from small cities be exposed to more people they wouldn't normally see," said Langlais. "So, it's also a good way to potentially meet friends as well as potential romantic partners so sometimes these entertaining relationships, swiping for entertainment, could lead to a dating scenario."
According to Tinder each day there are 1.6 billion swipes leading to about 1 million dates a week.
Currently, the national divorce rate is nearly fifty percent according to the CDC, and in Nebraska, the divorce rate has dropped from 52 percent to 47 percent since the creation of the first online dating site in 1995.