What is Tinder Used For?

What is Tinder Used For

For some, Tinder is a great way to meet new people. For others, it sums up everything that’s wrong with modern dating. Long gone are the days when meeting someone from the online world was considered to be as risky as giving a stranger your house keys. The thought of relationships starting online has lost its stigma, thanks in no small part to apps like Tinder.

But are Tinder users fully committed to its stated purpose? Keep reading to find out the most common ways in which people use Tinder and why. We’ll be touching on some adult topics in this article but nothing too egregious. You’ve been warned.

The Hookup App

First, it’s fair to cover all the bases. In case you’re completely in the dark, Tinder is a dating app. The goal is to help people meet and engage in interpersonal relationships. Tinder’s tagline is “Match, Chat, Date” and that about sums up the experience of many of the app’s users. Having said that, there’s a lot more to the app than just dating in the traditional sense.

Tinder’s reputation is that of being the “hookup” app. Hookups (casual sexual encounters) are what people mostly associate the service with. However, the number of people actually hooking up isn’t what you might expect. A rough estimate—based on research published in Psychology Today—puts the number of people whose stated intent is casual sex at only about 18% of users.

The other reason for using Tinder that corresponds to its intended purpose is finding committed relationships, but this only accounts for about 9% of the users’ stated intentions. So, the question remains as to what the rest of the swipers are up to.



The way Tinder is designed speaks to the neural pathways in our mind that make us feel accepted. Once you Like someone and they Like you back, you’ll get a match. This mechanism short-circuits our brain into believing that we are authentically appreciated by someone. Of course, we are engaging in a game wherein a simulacrum is presented with features we wish we had, rather than those we actually possess.

While most people are aware of the underlying system, that doesn’t stop them from deriving great satisfaction and validation from knowing that their avatar is likeable. And, since validation of physical appearance is important to us, Tinder is uniquely positioned to provide it. Therefore, another piece of the Tinder pie goes to people seeking positive feedback about their appearance.


Another group that broadly fits this category is people who are in relationships but are just looking to see what’s out there. People like to receive validation not only for themselves but also for the choices they make, and the person they’re committed to.

Everyone’s Doing It

Believe it or not, the biggest chunk of the Tinder-using population stated that they are using it due to its popularity. Tinder has become an epicenter of culture in its own way. It’s so ubiquitous in media and conversation that people just want to see what all the fuss is about.

Nearly half of the users said they were using it “out of curiosity.” It’s not clear how many of those end up using Tinder for anything else, but there’s definitely a sizable portion of users who are just using it for the novelty factor.

Excitement and Connection

A small, but not insignificant, number of users cited that they use Tinder for “excitement” or “fun.” Now, it’s very unclear what this actually refers to. It stands to reason that they are referring to one-night stands or other behavior that people might consider risky. Also, a part of this group is likely just trying to feel as if they are engaging in something dangerous without actually being in danger.

Another, smaller part of the group uses the app for connecting with people as a social activity. In online dating, these are the people known as pen pals. People who don’t really want to—or maybe aren’t ready to—date, but want to form a connection with someone and see how that feels.

Dealers and Users

A segment of users that are excluded from most formal studies is people who use Tinder for transacting recreational substances. This has nothing to do with the intended use of the app, but it’s an open secret in the Tinder scene.

Tinder is a social app that allows strangers to find each other based on mutual interests. As such, it’s often used to connect with people who can help with the acquisition of illicit or otherwise difficult to obtain pharmaceuticals.

Sparks Will Fly

By and large, people use Tinder for what it’s meant to be used—connecting with other people. Whether they arrive at Tinder through curiosity or through media hype, they end up trying to match with others sooner or later. The beauty of Tinder is that you don’t always get what you want, but you do sometimes get what you need.

What do you tend to use Tinder for? If you’re new to it, don’t hesitate. Jump right in and tell us how you like it in the comments.

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