It's safe to say dating has never been considered easy. In 1995, Match.com was established with the slogan, "Love is complicated, Match is easy." From beta to 2001, the cost of a Match membership jumped from $9.95 to $24.95 per month. Seemingly, this platform was specifically for people down to spend cash on the search for love. Sites like OKCupid, JDate, and Christian Mingle followed, catering to the introverts of the world, pandering to people's loneliness, promising relationships and even, later, flexing with married user testimonials.
We tend to hold on to that statistic suggesting 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and although that was indeed true from the late '70s to the early 2000s, that's not exactly the case currently. Granted, many factors come into play. Couples that aren't college educated have a higher tendency to have their marriage end in divorce, and the younger people decide to tie the knot the more likely the are to end the union. Baby boomers could arguably take a lot of responsibility for the divorce rate maintaining what it is today, but according to the Census Bureau, people are getting married later in life for a myriad of reasons. Women in particular are marrying later, opting for financial security before marriage, with double the amount compared to the 1980s going to college before saying "I do." Many millennials (all genders) are products of the years with the highest divorce rates obviously lowering the priority of marriage for them.
Tinder practically made a game of love.
In addition to dealing with a divorce, once-married individuals are re-entering a different dating world than they once knew. In September 2012 Tinder practically made a game of love. You'd hard pressed to find anyone under the age of 30 that never sat with friends and had a good laugh from handing out right and left swipes to dating profiles. That said, it significantly changed the landscape of dating. Where before, stereotypically, those with online dating profiles were looking for a relationship, those that are searching nearby single on Tinder (and others like Bumble, Grindr, and Hinge) are being held responsible for perpetuating "hook-up" culture. When Brad Patrick, the Florida-based divorce lawyer and self-proclaimed tech guy found his 15 year marriage over, he signed up for Tinder. "I signed up, used the app twice, and was frankly horrified," he told Motherboard over email. He wasn't interested in what he found. "A stream of 20 somethings with a minimum wage job and cleavage from which to do (many) shots was not my gig. Those who were closer to my age seemed desperate and sad." He soon deleted the app and met his girlfriend after building a lengthy, thorough profile and "browsing" OKCupid and Match.com.
Not everyone has such judgmental criticism as Patrick, nor does the "taboo" of online dating affect everyone's pride. Chris Ocampo*, a New York-based creative director whose two year marriage ended June 2012, within a couple months of the introduction of these apps, explains, "Most of my past relationships were through friends of friends, so I figured why not try a different pool for a change." Not without his own gripes, like the in-city "pen pals" he accumulated who text to death and never meet up, Ocampo did find it possible to match, exchange witty conversation and meet worthwhile people on Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel. Michelle Davids*, a Manhattan-based wellness professional, is thrilled to have the option of dating apps following the end of her 10 year marriage. Having married young she explains, "I joke around with my friends that I'm trying to condense the ups and downs one typically goes through in their 20s into a much shorter period of time." The extrovert does want to find the right person and settle down but she candidly tells Motherboard, "Between work, my pre-existing social life and dating I don't have a lot of downtime for myself."
Like everyone on dating apps, divorcees definitely run into a whole suite of familiar problems: ghosting, aimless banter that never leads to meeting up, swipe addiction, or getting matched with someone you they want to make a genuine connection with only to have zero communication. With a constant stream of available options across multiple platforms, matches and exchanges don't necessarily feel that important. Ross Rankin, an Atlanta-based 46 year old tech VP, says the difference between dating before his 17 year marriage ended and now using dating apps is, "You were only exposed to people in your general geography, socioeconomic, age brackets. Because you only really met people at places you would hang, work, frequent, you had a very narrow pool for dating." With the apps, he recalls, "It seemed I could go on a date almost every night of the week but it would be too exhausting and expensive."
"I felt like we had to put in real effort to first get to know each other and then additional effort to prove to each other we wanted to pursue something more," says the Toronto DJ, Josephine Cruz, of dating before being getting married to her now ex-husband whom she spent 10 years with. Both Cruz and Ocampo not only note the apps themselves offer a lot of info but the internet and social media do too. Ocampo pointed out, "Before the idea of social media, you got to know someone's personality, hobbies and their quirks. Now, it seems like you can look people up and can have a skewed perception by looking through a one way mirror into their lives."
While it's apparent not all divorcees are opting for the swipe life, it seems like a good place to start when one needs to get back out there. Interestingly, in the time since Cruz, Ocampo, and Rankin all divorced, they've found themselves in committed relationships, each of which they met their person the "old-fashioned" way: IRL.
*The names of these interviewees have been changed.
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from Dating After Divorce Still Isn't Easy in a Post-Tinder World