In theory, Tinder is a serious place when it comes to dating. Users are faced with a variety of faces, styles and tastes in their search for something resembling love. Establishing some very precise filters, the range of men and women who appear within a 50-kilometre radius (or however far one sees fit) will be the perfect candidates to satisfy the endless search for a happy relationship.
However, Alberto, Juanma and Marta, three friends who are part of the LGBT community, are fed up with the coldness and superficiality that comes with using this type of media to meet a like-minded partner. Nowadays, millennials prefer Instagram. The less shy even opt for the traditional format of meeting someone in a club, cigarette in hand or in the queue for the toilet.
Unfortunately for them, Francisco Cabello, director of the Instituto Andaluz de Sexología y Psicología (Andalusian Institute of Sexology and Psychology), sees things differently: “People don’t hook up in bars anymore, and it’s a reality that people have to accept.”
The phenomenon of social media has become yet another way to look for a partner. Cabello confirms that among the LGBT community, there is a widespread tendency to use specialised apps where you are sure to find what you are looking for: Grindr, Wapo o Wapa, and for the more daring, for the “warriors”, Passion.com and even Mil Anuncios. Despite this, Marta explains that her experience using Wapa was not entirely positive. The 31-year-old from Malaga recalls that when she came out at 16, she met her first partner through the now extinct Fotolog.
This was undoubtedly quite a strange way to take the first steps into the world of relationships which she would continue to form for her whole life. She found that users on Wapa were too aggressive when it came to initiating conversation. The “Hey, how’s it going?”, were replaced with the to-the-point “Do you want to have sex?”.
“The way that we lesbians have relationships is different to gay men. We always need to establish some sort of connection. Everyone is different, but lesbians talk more, and we try to get to know each other before becoming intimate through sex. I think that the sexualisation of women is an important reason for this,” says Marta, acknowledging that she has had very few one-night stands with strangers: to be truthful, practically none.
Alberto, 25, differs from Marta slightly because at other points in his youth he enjoyed a freer sex life. Now, he is simply searching for someone to spend part of his life with, explaining that the idea of “the rest of my life” sounds too cheesy.
“I’ve always used Grindr or Tinder, but now I’m looking in the world around me a lot more. To be honest, having a stable relationship is one of my ideals in life, but it’s difficult because dating apps are all a façade,” he explains emphatically, while Juanma nods in agreement. This 28-year-old TikToker with over 86,000 followers admits that he is too shy for in-person dating, something which seems surprising given his role as an influencer. He prefers using social media to meet someone and take the next steps, although the candidate will need to tick several boxes in order to gain his approval.
For Francisco Cabello, this constant search for a stable and long term relationship is widespread in society, but he has bad news for people in same-sex relationships:
“Gay couples vary a lot, but there is a myth which says that they break up more. And it’s true, for several reasons, including that they are built on a different model. There is a historical model for heterosexual couples, but not for same-sex ones. We have very few gay couple role models,” he says.
However, he also points out that when a gay couple breaks up, it isn’t seen so badly in society as when a straight couple does. “In the past decade, with an increasing number of studies stating that gay couples who hold off having sex for longer end up lasting longer than those who initiate the relationship with sex, even though that is the more common way of getting to know one another,” Cabello says, pointing out that this trend is most frequent in ‘Tinder couples’.
He explains: “In heterosexual relationships, if the sex isn’t good there is a certain adaptability, they hope it will improve or that something will change. This is far less common in same-sex relationships. If the sex is bad they tend to find someone else.”
The mirage of social media doesn’t stop the romantics, and much less the wild ones, who don’t hold back when they ask “Come to my place to watch Netflix?”