Appy Ever After – Are Our Swiping Days Over?

a girl at london fashion week wearing a red jumper over a blazer and a white top whilst on her phone
Appy Ever After – Are Our Swiping Days Over?Jeremy Moeller - Getty Images

I remember my first match as if it was yesterday. He was handsome, much more handsome than I’d ever thought would come my way in real life. He commented on how ‘keen’ I’d been to say hello after Tinder had alerted me we had matched and I soon retreated, embarrassed. We never met IRL but other matches soon followed, and I did meet them. Lots of them. I kept positive, kept swiping, kept lying in bed, looking for The One. But that was pre-pandemic.

Increasingly, the experience of using ‘the apps’, what we now collectively call platforms such as Tinder, Raya, Bumble and Hinge, has changed from having a cheeky flirt with potential in your pocket to a tiresome activity with nominal success that demands extended screen time and can cost a small fortune.


Right now, while most dating apps are ‘free’ at sign up, few matches will come your way before you start paying. Raya, the invite-only ‘celebrity’ app that attracts a curated, creative crowd (and some real C-listers from way back when), was costing me £19.99 a month at its base rate, not for the ‘recommended’ membership. As you can imagine, the algorithm worked accordingly.

After getting rid of Raya, I later paid £60 for a three-month Hinge membership that promised more views, more matches, perhaps even a date. Nothing happened. I thought it was me – my photos, how I answered the prompts, maybe my job or the fact I didn’t have a full-body bikini shot – but I asked others and realised I was far from the only one experiencing this digital-dating drought.

Everyone I spoke to had similar experiences, including being suggested couples looking for a third and the clearly married men looking for something on the side who now populate the platforms. Safe to say, I never renewed the Hinge membership when those 12 weeks were up and, in fact, I’ve given up on most of the apps now. The subscriptions feel unjustifiable in a cost-of-living crisis, but without them, swiping is a complete waste of time.

two friends at fashion week
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I’m not the only one to quit. At the start of 2024, Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of Bumble (she also co-founded Tinder), ended her run as the company’s CEO. Tinder reported paying users fell by 8% last year and, according to youth-research agency Savanta, more than 90% of Gen Z feel frustrated with dating apps.

Few of my friends sing the apps’ praises. The ones that do? Well, that’s where they met their spouse five years ago, and the nostalgia they feel is for a very different time and dating landscape. Those who are using them to look for love (not sex – I’m told the apps are still pretty good at facilitating hook-up culture) are all but done with them. The problem is, what else is there?

Apps have not only transformed the way we date, but also how we meet. The idea of walking up to someone and introducing yourself is now such a foreign concept that it’s hard to imagine it ever actually happened. But, in this post-pandemic era where genuine human interaction is key, the apps come up short in the search for authentic connection. Perhaps it’s time to go back to basics: commitment and good ol’ fashioned chemistry.

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