So, you’re swiping around on Tinder, and you match with someone. But when given the option to message them, you click “keep playing.” Maybe they even message you… but you don’t feel like responding. Why does this situation sound so familiar? Why do we ignore our Tinder matches? Isn’t the whole point of matching with people on Tinder so that we can start conversations?
As a former Tinder user, I’ll admit to having done this, and I’m definitely far from alone. According to a poll by the secret-sharing app Whisper, 66 percent of people have matched with someone on a dating app and then never messaged them.
I’ve gone off dating apps for the time being, but when I used Tinder, I only messaged a small percentage of my matches. When I chose not to, I usually just didn’t feel I had the energy to figure out what to say. But then why was I swiping in the first place? To be honest, I’m not sure. So, I decided to ask some experts for their input. Here are a few of their theories on why we swipe right to Tinder users and then make no effort whatsoever to talk to them. But first, check out the latest episode of Bustle’s Sex and Relationships podcast, “I Want It That Way”:
1. “There’s The Rush Of Dopamine When Someone Suddenly Likes You Back.”
Before asking why we’re not messaging our matches, it’s worth asking why we’re swiping in the first place. Are we always looking for a date, or could we just be looking for a temporary ego boost? “Tinder is a social dating game,” online dating consultant Steve Dean tells Bustle.” While it appears simple on the surface (just swipe right or left and you’re done, right?), it actually contains many powerful game mechanics that make for a psychologically addictive experience,” Dean says. “For starters, there’s the mystery of whether someone will like you. Then there’s the rush of dopamine when someone suddenly likes you back. And don’t forget the enticing pull of push notifications whenever you receive a new match, a message, or have your daily swipes restored.”
Relationship and dating expert Dr. Nikki Goldstein agrees.”Tinder has become a game, and the goal of the game is to have our egos boosted, “she says. “If you swipe right and you match with a little celebration on the screen, sometimes that’s all that is needed.” Goldstein added that sometimes, people just go on Tinder because they’re bored. Whatever the goal is, it’s not always to get a date.
2. “We Want To Scoop Up All Our Options Immediately.”
According to Katherine Schafler, a licensed therapist who runs a private practice in New York, people over-swipe because they’d rather have too many options than too few. “We swipe right for the same reason that when we’re at a breakfast buffet, we take more food than we actually end up eating,” she tells Bustle. “We want to scoop up all our options immediately and then decide what we actually really want later.” After all, it takes time to flip through someone’s profile and pictures and decide whether or not to swipe right. Then, if they didn’t even swipe right to you, that time is wasted. Some people don’t want to make that time investment with no guaranteed return.
Relationship advice columnist April Masini agreed that we tend to err on the side of swiping right too much because it’s better to have an unwanted match in your inbox than it is to miss out on one. “It’s free to swipe, which cheapens the process of choosing who to connect with,” she tells Bustle. Then, once an actual conversation or date (which takes actual effort) comes into question, we become stingier with our time. “When your time is valuable, you chose your dates more carefully because you can only afford the time to have one date a week,” she says.
3. “Knowing How To Communicate… Can Be Difficult.”
According to Tinder’s own resident sociologist Dr. Jessica Carbino, people might not message their Tinder matches because, quite simply, they have no idea how to. “Knowing how to communicate with someone that they have never interacted with (even when they’ve expressed mutual interest with a right swipe) can be difficult for some individuals,” she tells Bustle. In other words, starting a conversation with a stranger who you think is cute is awkward, even if — or perhaps because — you’re both interested.
4. “They’ve Heard Friends Talking About It And Begin Swiping Without Any Intention.”
Carbino pointed out that some Tinder users aren’t even sold on the app when they start using it. They might be testing it out to see if it’s for them, or they might just be curious what Tinder’s about but have no intention to use it themselves. “They’ve heard friends talking about it and begin swiping without any intention beyond seeing what’s made Tinder so popular and learning what it’s all about,” she says.
The moral of the story? Don’t feel bad if someone swiped right to you then didn’t reply to your message. It may have nothing to do with you and everything to do with how a whole lot of people are using Tinder.