This Is Why Men Outnumber Women Two-to-One on Tinder

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It's official: Men have taken over Tinder.

A new study conducted by research firm GlobalWebIndex has found that about 62% of all location-based dating app users are male. Given that about 90 million people used these types of apps in the last month, the sheer number of guys swiping left and right is astronomical.

The finding is right in line with previous research from the Pew Research Center, which found that 13% of American males were on dating apps or sites like Tinder compared to only 9% of women. So, why are men specifically flocking to instantly gratifying, fast-paced dating apps? 

The apps are like a game. And for men, when it comes to mate selection, the more games they play at once, the better.

Treating it like a game: There's a reason why the swipe-happy chase of Tinder feels so satisfying to our reward-driven minds, especially for men. Human relationships are "inherently game-like," Andrew Colman, a psychologist and game theory expert at University of Leicester, tells the Atlantic

Almost every man on Tinder that Mic spoke to used the words "play" and "game" when referring to the dating app – suggesting both depersonalization and playfulness come into play when swiping through someone's Tinder photos in rabid, rapid-fire fashion. 

"Oh, it's totally a game," Nick, 27, a Tinder fan, tells Mic. "It appeals to mostly men partially because of our competitive nature, and also because I find it's harder for guys to find dates." 

Like any game, there's a chance you can lose. And as previous studies have shown, men are much more prone to risk-taking than women, and that translates from everything from gambling at a casino to online dating apps. With Tinder, the stakes of playing are low, so playing requires little emotional commitment or time investment, but it still offers the reward of physical validation. As the New York Times says, one of the most appealing aspects of the game-like app is it "avoids the embarrassment of rejection ... what the company calls the 'double opt-in.'" It's not just a game — it's a casino game.

Source: Imgur
Source: Imgur

Playing the odds: Tinder can be a gamble for both men and women, but men may benefit most from playing the numbers. The dating app sees more than 1 billion profile swipes a day, but only 12 million of those turn into matches. And an even tinier percentage of those turn into actual dates, according to the New York Times. This means that ladies swipe "like" only 14% of the time, whereas the fellas generously swipe right on 46% of women or nearly half of all their matches. 

A 2009 study used game theory to explain how humans review potential mates in the same drawn-out way we study a chess board: looking at the risks and rewards of certain moves. For women, the study said, it pays to be discerning in the dating game because there is such a thing as a "good" or "bad" male mate (a "bad" mate being one who, for example, shows an unwillingness to care for offspring). But for men, with the main objective of simply mating, it pays to just attract any woman. 

Tellingly, time per Tinder session averages out to only 7.2 minutes for men, while women tend to swipe for 8.5 minutes at a time, the New York Times found

That said, Tinder isn't always about finding the best mate, but rather getting the most thorough overview of the options. "It's not necessarily an app where the objective is meeting the person. It's another way to explore," Lorenzo, 29, a frequent Tinder user, explains to Mic. 

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

As with any competitive gambling game, exploring can be addictive. Kyle P., 25, who uses Tinder almost daily, told Mic, "My roommate ran out his entire data plan." 

Caleb, a 31-year-old man in an open marriage, uses Tinder to search for new partners for he and his wife. Though he isn't a huge fan of the app, he tells Mic, "It's fun to pass the time in the more superficial 'Hot or Not' sense. I get about two to three matches per day. But if I'm swiping occasionally throughout the day, it's an onslaught and I get 10 to 20." 

Another payoff to the "gamble" comes in the form of an ego boost for men. Kyle P. said to Mic, "Girls I know use it just as much, but I feel men are more likely to take it seriously. My confidence about women was at a different level before I realized how many thought I was attractive. It made it easier to get laid because of the extra validation."

Outsourcing the work: Thinking of Tinder as a straightforward game of odds means that, for some men, the process can easily be streamlined or even outsourced. Vancouver-based programmer Justin Long made headlines last week with his new automated Tinderbot that selects ideal partners based on facial recognition preferences and then initiates chats with them. Long's program, which he calls Tinderbox, comes fully armed with pre-packaged openers like "{name} are you a fan of avocados?" to start conversations. And it's effective, too: The bot reportedly had a staggeringly high 70% accuracy rate for picking partners. 

But the numbers game, and the sheer fact that so many men are on Tinder, might indicate why so many women report Tinder fatigue — they're bombarded with many more matches and messages than men are. As Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic points out, "If Tinderbox is unsettling, it's because it takes that commodification to the next level — treating people not just as data entries within Tinder but as piles of data themselves." 

And the human commodification inherent to Tinder can have particular impact on Tinder's women. "While there is no prescriptive method for how any man should talk to any woman," Dayna Evans wrote on Gawker, "Tinder's brand of hastening and streamlining the process of dating until it is crushed into glib or tawdry one-liners sent off to a dozen blank women is not really the best place to start."

Asked why so many men use Tinder, Caleb said, "I think men are just horn dogs and lazy. I mean, look at the rate of harassment on the streets, men just blatantly saying, 'Damn girl, you are hot.' This is basically the dating app equivalent."

Whether it's being used for validation, casual chats or, as one user put it to Mic, "lascivious intentions," Tinder is a candid reflection of how men and women really interact with a roulette of potential new partners. Game theory suggests that the perpetual "swipe right" instinct has always been predominant in men; location-based dating apps escalate the process at warped speed and, in the process, expose what men are really looking for.