Online dating relies on quick decisions: Singles swipe right or left, yes or no, within seconds of seeing a profile. And once you match with someone, on many dating apps, the clock is ticking.
Hinge is the latest app to add time limits; after a match, users have 24 hours to start a conversation or the match disappears. If you do start chatting, you only have 14 days before your conversation vanishes. Bumble also puts a 24-hour limit on that initial hello; JSwipe matches disappear after 18 days if no one says hello; and Tinder matches never expire.
Earlier this month, I spoke with Karen Fein, Hinge’s vice president of marketing, about the company’s decision to add time limits. Fein said the change was about instilling some “urgency out of the gate, but it’s also about giving a second chance if you missed your opportunity the first time.” If you do match and don’t start a conversation, that match will go back into your pool, giving you another chance to match again, later down the line.
Will time limits give users that extra momentum to actually meet up in person? Eli Finkel, a social psychologist at Northwestern University, thinks so.
“These time limits are a very good idea,” Finkel wrote in an e-mail. “Just like in other domains, making something scarce tends to increase its value. That’s why advertisers pitch products with a ‘limited time offer.’ The fact that this particular match will become unavailable soon will tend to make him or her more appealing to you. Just as importantly, it will increase the likelihood that you initiate contact.”
After Hinge instituted the time limits this month, the company’s data scientist noticed behavior on the app had changed: In the first week, there was a 70 percent increase in chats started, and a 50 increase in how often matches exchanged phone numbers.
Whether or not they match on an app with time limits, online daters prefer to meet up quickly. According to a recent survey of 1,500 users on Happn, a location-based dating app that doesn’t put time limits on its matches, 88 percent of women waited up to a week before going on a date, while 63 percent of men wanted to meet in-person within a couple of days or less. Beyond that, 63 percent of men get into a relationship within a month of dating, while 55 percent of women wait up to two months before making things official.
So the next time you get a promising match, speak up before he or she disappears.