A New Survey Reveals the Surprising—and Sad—Truth About Online Dating

When it comes to online dating, it can be hard to know what to believe: The friend who met her boyfriend of two years during the first Hinge date she went on? (True story, I know this couple.) Or the many friends—and friends of friends, and women next to you at the bar—who’ve been Tindering, Bumbling, and League-ing for months or years on end, with nothing but dick picks and bad dates to show for it.

Well, Hinge—the app that matches you with people in your extended network and that Business Insider reported to be the 11th most popular dating app in the country—has an answer. No matter what you’ve heard, Hinge and dating apps like it don’t appear to be all that effective when it comes to making real connections that could lead to relationships. After surveying hundreds of its users, Hinge found that 81 percent never found a long-term relationship from any swiping app (that means Tinder, Grindr, and others). Womp, womp.

The survey’s other depressing findings include that only one in 500 swipes on Hinge turn into an exchange of actual phone numbers (not even an in-person date, mind you); 60 percent of users say they’ve lowered their standards on swiping apps; 90 percent of people go on swiping apps when they’re feeling bored; and 54 percent feel actually lonely after using one. Sad—not to mention counterproductive.

Hinge also reported some male-specific behaviors that are similarly bleak: 22 percent of men who use Hinge have used a swiping app while they were on an actual real-live date; 65 percent have sent a message expecting it to be ignored; 75 percent swipe left or right based only on the first photo; and 53 percent have encountered a prostitute on a swiping app. Yikes.

If you’re wondering why the F Hinge would release such negative findings about its own service, I asked myself the same thing. It appears that the app—whose founder previously said Hinge is “the app you use to find someone you actually like”—is overhauling its model, rather than ignore the fact that it’s just not working. Check out Hinge’s homepage now, and you’ll find this tagline: “It’s time to escape the dating apocalypse.” The new Hinge will be “for people who want more than entertainment and flings” who are “tired of the mindless swipe culture.” It’s a smart move from a marketing standpoint, but it remains to be seen whether the new Hinge will actually help people find love.

In the meantime, we can all take comfort in the fact that even women as gorgeous and successful as Angelina Jolie and Naomi Watts struggle to find the right match in love.