It’s not impossible that casual romantic encounters might morph into friendships, Paul said, but for students “to look at these apps through just those friendships seems like a little bit of a stretch.” Also, Paul noted, it’s entirely possible that students weren’t entirely forthcoming with their answers.
“Not many people want to admit they’re on Tinder, but somehow they have millions of subscribers.” But wouldn’t those same characteristics -- people your age with similar interests, ages and attributes -- make college campuses just as accommodating for seekers of romance?
But is it possible students are also using Tinder not for sex but to find friends? There’s certainly reason to be skeptical, experts say, but there might be a kernel of truth there.
More than half of college students in a recent survey said they were using Tinder and other dating apps (but mostly Tinder) to find friends, not hookups. “That seems a little bit of a stretch,” said Aditi Paul, a Ph. candidate at Michigan State University whose research has found online daters tend to break up faster and more often and are less likely to end up married than their off-line counterparts.
“They were having trouble visualizing any alternative to the party-centered hookup culture that exists ….
Dating apps and sites provide an alternative.” As to whether they might be using those apps to find friends, Bogle said categories and definitions are so blurry that it’s definitely a possibility.
“I find it a little bit of a stretch of reality that they’re looking for friends -- with that agenda -- with this app,” she said.Students are already surrounded by loads of people their own age with similar interests and plenty of opportunity to interact, she explained -- a near-perfect petri dish for incubating friendships.