On SAGE Insight: Swiping me off my feet: Explicating relationship initiation on Tinder

From Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

Recent advancements in communication technology enable billions of people to connect using mobile phones. Now, with a finger swipe, mobile apps increase convenience due to readily accessible smartphone capabilities, geolocation features, and user-friendly platforms. Before online sites and mobile apps, relationship initiation remained, reliant on face-to-face contact. This exploratory research offers insight to theorize what pre-interaction steps individuals undertake to generate relational interactions. This study recognized the changes occurring in mobile dating apps and the need to further explicate how Tinder assists in relationship initiation, and what implications that may have for pre-interaction relationship developmental processes.


Tinder, a mobile dating application (app), facilitates the initiation of new, potentially romantic relationships and promotes itself as a social discovery platform dominating the U.S. with 1.4 billion swipes per day. This exploratory study investigates how people engage in relationship initiation behaviors through Tinder and highlights how interpersonal relationship initiation, selection processes, and strategic pre-interaction behaviors are evolving through contemporary-mediated dating culture. Participants (N ¼ 395) were recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to complete an online survey about their Tinder usage. The study employed descriptive statistics and thematic analysis to analyze reasons for selecting and deleting Tinder, pre-interaction processes, swiping strategies, and Tinder hookup culture. The prevalent view that Tinder is a sex, or hookup app, remains salient among users; although, many users utilize Tinder for creating other interpersonal communication connections and relationships, both romantic and platonic. Initially, Tinder users gather information to identify their preferences. Their strategies show clear implications for explicating the relationship development model and associated information pursuing strategies. Overall, this study argues that new emergent technologies are changing how interpersonal relationship initiation functions; the traditional face-to-face relationship development models and initiation conceptualizations should be modified to include the introduction of the pre-interaction processes apparent in mobile dating applications such as Tinder.

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Article details
Swiping me off my feet: Explicating relationship initiation on Tinder
Leah E. LeFebvre University of Wyoming, USA
First Published May 22, 2017
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
DOI: 10.1177/0265407517706419



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