Georgia Aspinall | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 20 April 2017

Scientists Have Worked Out Why First Dates From Tinder Are (Almost) Always Crap

Scientists Have Worked Out Why First Dates From Tinder Are (Almost) Always Crap

The Debrief: You can't match up to the person you've built online

It’s the same doomed life cycle you repeat every few months. You re-download Tinder, with renewed hopes that maybe it’s time to get out there and like be sociable? You chat to a bunch of different dickheads, and maybe even get your hopes up that a few of them are only 10% dickhead so like, husband material, right? Then you go on that dreaded first date, only to find they’re actually more like 60% dickhead, and you delete Tinder on the way home because ‘it’s just FULL of dickheads’ (genuine scenario my sister and I repeat every month).

Why do we repeat this poisonous pattern? Are we all clinically insane or are dating apps ruining our lives? Let’s go with the second, because there’s nothing like living in denial. Plus, science has basically confirmed it. In a recent study by Sharabi and Caughlin, the disappointment of a first date after meeting online was found to be a genuine scientific phenomenon. They found that, of the 94 participants who went on a first date the majority were less attracted to the person after meeting than during online engagement, leaving them disillusioned. 

Of course, this isn’t all that surprising. We all create a false world online, our social media is our best self, more than that it’s a contrived attempt to create a perfect persona that simply is not attainable in real life. We find our perfect angle for selfies, we have more confidence behind a screen and we have an abundance of time to calculate the perfect witty response in conversation. I would know, the WhatsApp widget is a God send for reading messages before the sender can see your read receipts. Our real self may be shy, have a dodgy side-profile and realise the perfect response to a joke five minutes after the conversation ends. Yet, our social media self is confident, attractive and witty, so how can we expect our IRL selves to live up to that? 

And it’s not just women, it’s all of us. If we know both men and women put their best self forward online, why are we expecting that same level of perfection on the first real life meeting? All we’re doing is setting ourselves up to fail, and damning our self confidence in the process. According to the report: 

"Online dating is another setting where certain elements of people’s personalities, behaviours, and even physical appearances may be obfuscated at first, leading to positive illusions that are not always sustainable over time."

So it’s kind of like the honeymoon phase, when you still pretend your SUPER low maintenance and love all the same things, eventually it dies out because really, who can be arsed to keep that up? It creates more intimacy in real life relationships, when you both start to drop your perfect act and still actually like each other. But, on a first date, when you’re not quite sure if this new prospect is worth you shaving your legs on a daily basis (who is?) it only leads to failure. 

But is it inevitable failure? Should we give up on Tinder altogether? Well, apparently not. The likelihood of being disappointed after a date correlates to how much you have communicated beforehand. If you’ve had a lot of communication before meeting, asked a lot of questions and generally just sought to get to know this person more than just through the thin veil of banter, the first date is likely to be more successful. The more you talk, the more likely this person is to drop the falsehoods social media presents and have an honest conversation about their likes and dislikes. The research then found that the more similar you are the more likely you are to enjoy each other’s company, at least in the short run. 

So, the lesson to be learned is this: if you go on a first date with someone you met online, keep an open mind. They’re not going to measure up to the vision you have built up in your head from their social media personality. But in the same vein, you’re probably not going to either (sorry). The best way to solve that? Be your most honest self online, fuck Facetune. 

Liked this? You might also be interested in:

First Dates 8.1: Heart Thumping, Text Dumping, Otter Humping Love

The Scientific Reason Why We Get Less Spontaneous Past The Age Of 25

The Science Of Attraction 

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