Does your dating app want you to stay single?

It’s 2am, the tingle in my right wrist threatens long-term damage (RSI – repetitive swiping injury), and I’m not sure I’m even blinking.

Yet I keep going, staring at my screen. Why? I’ve sent 35 messages so far – to men of varying attractiveness – and they all remain unanswered. I look for another match, hoping he’ll appear on my next swipe.

I’ve been doing this – on and off – for the past five years. Why am I still single? It’s a horrible thought that leaves me reeling. But then another idea springs to the surface… what if the apps want me this way? We’re in the age of the tech giants: Deliveroo and Uber are making billions off us. Yet food and transport are commodities, we’ll always need them (yes, I know I could learn to drive and cook…), while dating apps rely on me not finding anyone – I’d delete them as soon as I did. Dating apps boost the UK economy by £11.7 billion a year, thanks to a steady influx of singles and repeat business. If apps have monetised dates, and most technology is designed to keep us on it, could it be that the apps are hoping I’ll stay single? It’s time to find out.


The first thing I discover is that getting dating apps to reveal their matchmaking algorithms is like asking KFC to share its secret recipe – it just isn’t going to happen. But what I can do is ask coders and engineers for their theories when it comes to how our most-used dating apps are designed. There is a consensus…

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