Swipe Right, Swipe Left, Can’t Swipe at All... Why Are Dating Apps So Binary?

June 29, 2019

Photo: NeONBRAND on Unsplash 


Expanding upon the formula of websites like eHarmony and Match, the dating app has acted as a springboard from which “hookup culture” has launched into the zeitgeist.

Gone are the days of painstakingly filling out questionnaires to find your “one perfect match.” Now dating apps have doubled down on the trial and error aspect of the matchmaking process, updating the formula in several key ways, like the now iconic swipe system, that allows the user to sort through dozens of potential partners in minutes.


But with all these technological and sociological innovations, one question still remains, why do dating apps divide users into male and female profiles?


If dating apps like Tinder and Bumble want to lean in to the trial and error of relationships and encourage exploring multiple partners instead of just one, then perhaps experimentation should also be encouraged in other areas, like exploring the wide spectrum of human sexuality.


Okcupid, an app that allows users to switch between male and female profiles at will, has introduced several intriguing features that have made progress in this area, like a button that prohibits the user’s profile from being viewed by heterosexual people.


Even though options like this are an important step for the LGBTQ community, many believe it is still not enough. Teen Vogue contributor Elly Belle, in her article Best Dating Apps for Queer and LGBTQ People, says of this new feature, “at least hypothetically makes it a safer bet for more people in the LGBTQ community. However, it’s important to note that the app is still lacking in inclusivity of gender identity options, due to the fact that it’s ‘I’m looking for’ options are limited to men, women, or ‘everybody.’”


There has to be a better option, an app that opts out of the binary system of male and female, gay and straight, in favor of a formula that more closely mirrors the landscape of today.



Colson Kuliopulos is currently earning his degree in film from Emerson College. He hopes to become a writer for television and movies, then move to a seaside town and collect beach glass till the day he dies.

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