Is Tinder For Dating Or Hooking Up? Here’s The Truth

Between getting caught in situationships and trying to read between the lines of murky text messages (was that emoji flirty or just friendly?), defining your relationship status is complicated these days. To make matters worse, it can be tricky to know if your Tinder matches are into something serious or short. So is Tinder for dating or hooking up? Here’s the truth.

  1. Tinder is known for hookups. Let’s be honest: Tinder has a reputation for being a hookup app. A survey showed that more people believe Tinder is used for flings than anything else. And that little flame icon in the app’s logo isn’t there for nothing—it gives the subtle feeling that Tinder is for steamy-hot meetings more than slow ‘n steady romance.
  2. Tinder was designed to be superficial. Anyone who has ever used Tinder knows about its quick swiping method. Look at some photos, check out someone’s name and age, and maybe scroll down to read their short bio. Then from that information alone, swipe left to reject or swipe right to like someone. With so little to go on, it’s as if Tinder was made for superficial hookups. People who care more about physical characteristics than deep compatibility can quickly swipe through dozens (or even hundreds) of photos in one sitting to decide who they hope to match with.
  3. Men outnumber women on Tinder—by a lot. There’s no need to stereotype all men as just being into sex because, well, that just isn’t true. Still, many of us have received overtly sexual messages from men on apps like Tinder or know someone who has. And given that there are three guys for every one woman on Tinder, it’s not so shocking that hookups seem like the norm when getting to know matches.
  4. Tinder is at the forefront of online dating. Online dating is synonymous with hookup-related behaviors like breadcrumbing and ghosting. And the current leader of the online dating world, with more users than any other dating app, is none other than Tinder. Those who are looking for a serious relationship may assume that Tinder pioneered modern hookup culture, given that it’s such a popular platform. In reality, Tinder might’ve just made it easier for those who want a one-night stand to find one. With so many users swiping left and right on the app, some of them may be looking for a hookup, but you can still expect at least a few million to be searching for true love. That’s more than a lot of other apps (or your local bar) can say.
  5. Your Tinder bio can make all the difference. Some Tinder users may want a hookup, and some may want something serious. So how can you weed out the ones who don’t have the same dating goals as you? Adding a personal touch to your Tinder bio can make all the difference. Jokes are fun, and flirty one-liners can be memorable. But if you don’t want to use Tinder for hooking up, put a little extra thought into your bio. Mention a passion or dream you have for the future. Share something special about your personality. And to really cut to the chase, explicitly write that you’re only looking for serious romance.
  6. Set some ground rules. Another way to avoid wasting time on f***boys is to set some boundaries from the beginning. There are no right or wrong rules; choose what feels right to you. For example, you could decide you won’t hook up on the first date, no matter how strong the chemistry is. Or maybe you’ll only “meet” matches virtually on a video call at first before rushing to meet in person. If you’re looking for a real relationship, it’s also a good idea to not respond to anyone who makes aggressively flirtatious comments from the start. Taking your time and making your Tinder matches wait a little is a good way to eliminate those who are just looking for an easy fling.
  7. Center your chats on what matters. Tinder may feel like nothing more than a hookup app if you only talk about superficial topics. Once you’ve matched and started chatting, talk about what you truly care about if you want to initiate something serious. Similar to your Tinder bio, you can talk about aspirations, values, and mutual interests. The more you and your matches get to know each other as real people, the less likely you’ll only see each other as a potential hookup.
  8. Tinder has sparked some real happily ever afters. Whether Tinder is for dating or hooking up has a lot to do with how you use it, even if the app still carries a reputation as being ideal for flings. If you’re not totally convinced, consider this: The Knot called Tinder “the best dating app for marriage.” A survey by the website found that 27% of newlyweds who met online met on Tinder. While the app may lead to the bedroom for some, it often leads to a walk down the aisle for others.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo