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Throughout my years of travel and living abroad, I’ve learned a lot about human nature. That includes the things that set us apart, and those that unite us. And the number one similarity I’ve found across every culture, religion, and continent is the desire for love. We spend much of our lives trying to find it — whether in the form of friendship or romance — by whatever means necessary. This is where dating apps come in.
The use of these apps has skyrocketed despite only having been around for a handful of decades. What started as a singular online dating platform (shout out to the OG, Match.com) has become a multibillion-dollar industry that draws over 300 million annual users worldwide. And although each country differs in the kinds of dating apps and features available, the reality is your next love connection is just a download away. That’s true whether you’re chilling in a sushi cafe in Japan or hiking the French Alps.
Apps like Bumble and Hinge may have seen an impressive rise in popularity in recent years, but the numbers don’t lie: Tinder remains the number one downloaded app in the good ol’ US of A (as well as Canada, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, Spain, and many others). And are we really surprised? The Tinder app was the first to try swipe-based matching. And there’s something about firsts that tend to stick (just ask Neil Armstrong, Gabby Douglas, and Sandra Day O’Connor).
Its popularity and prevalence in American society are undeniable. In fact, according to a survey conducted in late 2022, close to half of respondents (48%) claimed their reason for using Tinder was that “many of their peers were using it.”
But does the app live up to the hype? It depends on who you ask. Many people believe Tinder to be a hookup app, while other daters have taken their Premium Member monthly payments all the way to the wedding chapel. Either way, the app touts a 3.7 on Google Play, a 3.9 on the App Store, and a total of 530 million downloads. Chances are, it’s doing something right.
Home to one of the most romantic cities in the world, it would make sense to assume that the French are all over the dating apps, right? The data says oui. Reportedly, almost 13% of France’s population (approx. 8.8 million people) use dating apps. And, based on the fact that 67% of French people report feeling pressure to be in a relationship, these numbers are not likely to see a downturn anytime soon.
Coming out on top in the French dating app scene is Badoo. Founded in 2006 by Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev, the app features geolocation matching, video chat, and verification capabilities that bring thousands of people together on a monthly basis.
Some users love the app for how it makes the swiping process “perfect and easy!” Others appreciate the low cost and lack of clutter: “No matter how broke you are, you can still afford it. No ads at all and no bugs. Just a straight-to-the-point dating app.”
Buzz buzz, Bumble’s back. (Kidding, she never left).
This women-facing dating app, which saw a massive rise in popularity in 2015, has now earned the title of Australia’s most-used dating platform with a record number of 55,700 monthly downloads. Tinder and Hinge, its big-name competitors, follow closely in second and third place, respectively.
It’s difficult to prove exactly what it is about Bumble that makes it a top contender in the country of crocs and koalas, but it may come down to the preference that singles have for a platform where women make the first move. It’s safer, it’s more empowering, and it’s got friend-finding options, too!
How does the most technologically-advanced country in the world feel about dating apps? According to recent data, while there is a minority of citizens who still prefer meeting people the “organic” way (17%), the mass majority of surveyed daters in Japan claim that online dating is their go-to in the search for love. And out of this majority, the largest percent say they use Pairs.
Pairs, founded in 2012, was launched with the goal of helping Japanese singles discover meaningful life-long partnerships and marriage. The app uses many of the same features big-name dating apps do — such as an interest-based matching algorithm, fun icebreaker prompts, and local in-person meetups. But it also takes a targeted approach on a particular aspect of life that the Japanese take very seriously: privacy.
With a strong desire to keep their private and professional lives separate, many users express their appreciation for the app’s security measures. Those include a feature that allows users to hide their profile from their place of work as well as the app’s 24/7 customer service line and text/image monitoring system.
Tinder may have started as a U.S.-based app, but the flames of love (or lust) that have ensued since its launch in 2012 have had a global reach.
This feat becomes even more impressive when you consider that, according to recent data, 90% of all marriages in this part of the world are still arranged. In fact, some believe Tinder has been the catalyst to an entirely new belief system surrounding the culture’s view on love and dating. Singles previously had to rely on parents and/or loved ones to find their perfect match. Now they feel more empowered to take on the task themselves.
This app is perfect for those who, like me, believe steaks are best served tenderized and covered with a tasty, caramelized coating. Hold up — I must be thinking of the newly launched (and similarly-spelled) meat delivery app SweetMeats.
SweetMeet, on the other hand, is a dating app that uses geolocation technology, search filters, and a preference-based algorithm to match hundreds of thousands of singles per day. What makes this particular app a top contender in Kenya is difficult to pinpoint, but it may come down to its easy navigation and profile-boosting coin system.
OK, Tinder. Now you’re just showing off.
Coming in with a large lead against Bumble, Badoo, and Maybe You, this U.S.-based app is — surprise, surprise — the number one used app in Peru. There isn’t a lot of data on the Peruvian dating scene to help us understand why this is, but considering that Tinder is the top choice for 196 other countries, we’ll just let the numbers speak for themselves.
The wave of the West’s women’s rights movement (try saying that three times fast) has touched many corners of the world, including Singapore. This feminist influence has prompted significant changes in this tiny East Asian country, particularly in the professional lives of its female citizens.
Has this human rights cause made its way into the social sphere, too? The fact that the country’s most-used dating app is one where women make the first move may mean the answer is “yes.”
The app looks eerily similar to Tinder in format and uses many of the same features, including left and right swiping, the option to send “Super Likes,” and free unlimited messaging. Additionally, much like its U.S.-based counterpart, the platform is considered a hookup app. This preference for a more Netflix-and-chill lifestyle can be explained by recent economic and social changes that are trickling into the dating landscape.
Regardless of the explanation, the success of the app is indisputable. Tantan is responsible for over 3.4 billion matches since its launch in 2012 and is expected to earn approximately $41.3 million in revenue by the end of the year.
If this information has taught us anything, it’s that we should never underestimate the power of technology to change the world as we know it. And I mean that in the romantic, “There’s someone out there for everyone” way, not the scary, “Robots are taking over the world!” way.
Whether you’re in the subtropics of Peru or the bustling cities of China, apps like Tinder, SweetMeet, and Badoo are revolutionizing the way we approach dating, making it easier than ever to find companionship and create meaningful connections. And, considering that tech seems to be advancing faster than we can say Elon Musk, these changes are unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
That said, when it comes to embarking on your online journey toward love, my advice is this: Sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride (pun very much intended).