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The percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds (single or otherwise) dating online nearly tripled between 20, rising from 10 per cent to 27 per cent And for many, dating apps are becoming more than just a game.About 22 per cent of straight couples and 67 per cent of gay couples now meet online.“The pressure to be in relationships,” Swami says, “and the perception that there is something ‘wrong’ with remaining single, can create a drive or need to be on dating apps.” But far from easing the discontent of being single, many young people feel that dating apps have amplified it.“Dating apps have added to the pressure of finding someone,” says 24-year-old account manager Adam George., in which he describes love and marriage as “narrative traps”.“Think back on your bedtime stories as a child,” he writes, “and I bet these words are lodged somewhere in your brain: ‘…and they fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever after.’ These imagined happy endings stick with us as adults.” Viren Swami, social psychology professor at Anglia Ruskin University, argues that dating apps often work as outlets to pursue such “happy endings”.The number of single people has risen by 31 per cent in the past 15 years.

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However, as dating apps come to facilitate not just one-night stands and mindless conversations but increasingly relationships and would-be relationships, a strange ecosystem has arisen.“It feels like there’s no excuse – it’s all there.” George has been single for 18 months, but feels drawn to dating apps despite the joy single life has brought him.“I feel like I do have some weird sense of obligation to meet someone,” he says.“Maybe we are falling for a matching service that is not really interested in matching us, because in a perfect world if we would all find our perfect match then they’re losing their clients.” A paper published last year in the Journal of Marketing Research examined this strange quirk of dating apps.Unlike a typical app whose effective performance increases customer loyalty and lengthens the customer’s time on the app, dating apps face a trade-off.

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