Xanet Scheepers
Digital Lifestyle Editor
2 minute read
6 May 2022
1:02 pm

Looking for love? This is why and how South Africans use Tinder

Xanet Scheepers

Finding a suitable match is not always at the top of the list of South Africans who download this dating app.

Picture: iStock

Meeting the ‘love of your life’ has changed significantly over the years. Young people are no longer heading to church on a Sunday morning in the hopes of finding their perfect match, nor do they go to a bar or nightclub with the illusion they could bump into their soul mate on the dance floor.

With the introduction of smartphones and the growth of the internet, dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and OKCupid became popular and acceptable ways to meet potential new romantic partners.

Tinder is the most downloaded dating app in the world, having had over 6.5 million downloads in May 2021.  It also ranked as the number one downloaded app in South Africa in 2019.

According to Associate Professor in Media Studies and Production, University of Cape Town,  Tanja Bosch, many South Africans use Tinder because they believe they will find long term romantic partners, despite negative perceptions of the app.  

The popular dating app was thrust into the spotlight after the release of the Netflix documentary The Tinder Swindler.

The documentary interviews a number of women who either befriended or got into a romantic relationship with a man named Simon Leviev, only to find themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

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While the possibility of being “catfished” by a prospective romantic partner has made many people more cautious when it comes to online dating, others are still embracing this platform in the hopes of finding ever-lasting love.

Bosch conducted research to understand just how and why South Africans use this popular application. She found that the majority of respondents (56%) who took the survey downloaded the app because they were either bored or curious.

52% of respondents said they were looking for love while only 12% said they used the app for networking and to make friends.

Bosch said during her in-depth interviews, that most users said they were trying to craft a particular impression of themselves on the app. And as expected, a few also admitted that they withheld certain information like being a smoker or having children, to increase their chance of matches.

Women said the app afforded them greater sexual freedoms and access to a wider range of potential partners.

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Some of the people surveyed also admitted pursuing multiple matches simultaneously, browsing through available profiles like one would when paging through a catalogue.

Bosch said while she found many South Africans are using Tinder to find long-term love and connection, despite its notoriety as a hook-up app and despite social fears, the app turns the process of finding love online into a kind of game.

“Tinder users act like game players, making moves, selecting how to swipe or whether to send a message, and then whether to meet in real life, based on the “moves” of the other person in a game-like interface.”