Swiping left: Washington College student perspectives on dating apps

By Mikayla Silcox

Elm Staff Writer

While not every student at Washington College uses dating apps, those who seek relationships online often have specific expectations about how the experience will play out.

Some expect disappointment, some are just looking for a good time, and most are embarrassed to admit that they use online dating services at all. 

According to Glamour, the stigma around dating apps stems from the belief that they are meant for those desperate for a relationship. 

“We seem to live in a world that feels that it isn’t ‘cool’ to be looking for love, that it should just find you, and if you are in search of it, you are somehow desperate or not ‘attractive enough’ to be ‘wanted’ in your offline life,” said Tami Sobell for Glamour.

Because of this stigma, many of the students who were interviewed requested anonymity. However, the number of WC students active on dating apps goes to show that there is no shame in using these sites.

There is an overarching idea that students only use dating apps on campus for hook ups. Some believe this transparency in expectations make life easier, as there is no confusion about intentions.

Others disagree with the notion that people are only on dating apps with the sole intention of hooking up. A number of students shared that they aspire to find romance on apps like Tinder and Bumble.

Dating apps can also differ with environment. Chestertown’s small, isolating sphere means that dating apps look different from what students might experience in their hometowns. 

“For those in major cities, there’s already a sense of anonymity and seemingly infinite possibility when it comes to seeking out potential partners,” said Amy Michelle Smith for Vice.

If a student is from a large area, they have more options to choose from, but students at WC face a limited pool of their peers on dating apps.

The dating app experience also differs depending on the user’s gender and sexual orientation.

According to a 2020 Pew Research study, 60% of female users aged 18-34 from a pool of 4,860 U.S. adults experienced targeted harassment on dating apps. The harassment ranges from unwanted messages from men after the users express disinterest to nonconsensual explicit photos sent by men.

“Dating apps for women are a risk, but it’s a lot easier to be trusting on campus, because more times than not, you have heard of or seen the men on it before,” said an anonymous sophomore.

Also, the transparency of dating apps makes it easier for queer students to navigate dating.

“You don’t have to play this guessing game on whether someone is straight or not. While there is a larger gay community on campus than back at home, it still feels like more of a safe space when you explicitly can tell someone’s sexuality,” said an anonymous freshman. 

Overall, the experience of dating apps at WC depends on personal identity and expectations. Dating apps are a popular source for connection, and while they may be used differently at WC, these apps are an effective method for meeting new people and developing relationships.

Swiping left: Washington College student perspectives on dating apps

While not every student at Washington College uses dating apps, those who seek relationships online often have specific expectations about how the experience will play out.

Some expect disappointment, some are just looking for a good time, and most are embarrassed to admit that they use online dating services at all. 

According to Glamour, the stigma around dating apps stems from the belief that they are meant for those desperate for a relationship. 

“We seem to live in a world that feels that it isn’t ‘cool’ to be looking for love, that it should just find you, and if you are in search of it, you are somehow desperate or not ‘attractive enough’ to be ‘wanted’ in your offline life,” Glamour writer Tami Sobell aid.

Because of this stigma, many of the students who were interviewed requested anonymity. However, the number of WC students active on dating apps goes to show that there is no shame in using these sites.

There is an overarching idea that students only use dating apps on campus for hook ups. Some believe this transparency in expectations make life easier, as there is no confusion about intentions.

Others disagree with the notion that people are only on dating apps with the sole intention of hooking up. A number of students shared that they aspire to find romance on apps like Tinder and Bumble.

Dating apps can also differ with environment. Chestertown’s small, isolating sphere means that dating apps look different from what students might experience in their hometowns. 

“For those in major cities, there’s already a sense of anonymity and seemingly infinite possibility when it comes to seeking out potential partners,” Vice writer Amy Michelle Smith said.

If a student is from a large area, they have more options to choose from, but students at WC face a limited pool of their peers on dating apps.

The dating app experience also differs depending on the user’s gender and sexual orientation.

According to a 2020 Pew Research study, 60% of female users aged 18-34 from a pool of 4,860 U.S. adults experienced targeted harassment on dating apps. The harassment ranges from unwanted messages from men after the users express disinterest to nonconsensual explicit photos sent by men.

“Dating apps for women are a risk, but it’s a lot easier to be trusting on campus, because more times than not, you have heard of or seen the men on it before,” an anonymous sophomore said.

Also, the transparency of dating apps makes it easier for queer students to navigate dating.

“You don’t have to play this guessing game on whether someone is straight or not. While there is a larger gay community on campus than back at home, it still feels like more of a safe space when you explicitly can tell someone’s sexuality,” an anonymous freshman said. 

Overall, the experience of dating apps at WC depends on personal identity and expectations. Dating apps are a popular source for connection, and while they may be used differently at WC, these apps are an effective method for meeting new people and developing relationships.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo caption: In the past decade, dating apps have become a viable way for young people to seek relationships. According to a study conducted by Pew Research, 48% of people aged 18-29 have used a dating website or app.

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