College Students Prefer Finding Relationships Without Dating Apps: Survey

Axios and Generation Lab found that a majority of college students surveyed met their current or most recent significant other without a dating app.
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Published on November 27, 2023
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  • Axios and Generation Lab found most respondents did not use a dating app regularly.
  • Tinder was the most popular dating app, used by 12% of respondents at least once a month.
  • The "Marriage Pact," a matchmaking survey that pairs college students together based on a 50-question survey, is a new way to meet significant others.

Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have advertised to college students on campus for years, but dating apps may be losing their luster for this demographic after a new survey found most students are finding relationships in person.

Axios and Generation Lab surveyed 978 college students this fall about their beliefs on dating and found that most students don't use dating apps regularly, and a majority met a significant other through in-person connections.

The survey found 79% of respondents did not use a dating app at least once a month. The most popular dating app was Tinder at 12%, then Hinge and Bumble at 8% each.

"I feel like dating apps have ruined the dating scene for many people my age and ruined their self-confidence," Melanie Perez, a junior at Sam Houston State University, told Axios.

Most college students found their current or most recent significance in person at school.

The next most popular way to meet someone was either by coincidence or by a dating app. Just a percentage less met through a mutual friend or another way.

A New Way to Find Love on Campus for Students, by Students

Despite their rejection of dating apps, college students are signaling that they're not totally opposed to new ways to meet potential partners.

One new way to meet partners at college is a survey that plays matchmaker for you based on four meta-levels: personality, basic values, romantic tendencies, and building a shared life. The "Marriage Pact" is a yearly 15-minute college survey with 50 questions asking demographic questions and gauging participants' responses to statements like:

"I go to great lengths to minimize my harm to the planet," "Exercising is an important part of my lifestyle," "Abortion should always be legal," and "I always take the scenic route."

Students have a week to fill out the survey, and on the final day, students get an email with their match's name and email. Nearly 328,000 students have participated since 2017, with about 132,000 matches.

It started as an economics class project by two Stanford students in 2017 and now is used at 78 schools nationwide.