If you've ever used a dating app, or know someone who has, chances are you've heard of the term "ghosting," which refers to a person someone meets in real life but then never hears from again. But what about the people who amass matches but never message them, or those that endlessly swipe just to feel like they're doing something about their single status?
There are several new terms that experts are using to describe people's behavior on swiping apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Happn.
"Collectors" are people who match with many others but have no intention of sending messages or meeting up, according to Anna Machin, an anthropologist at the University of Oxford.
"We know from research that there are some people who use dating apps who aren't necessarily there to find a match, but they are competitively seeing how many matches they get, so they're not necessarily going to actually connect with anybody. They're called 'collectors' and they are simply there to boost their own self-esteem maybe by getting however many matches a day," she told CNBC.
Men are much more likely to swipe right on every profile they see, according to a 2016 study of heterosexual behavior on Tinder. It showed that 35% of men "casually liked" most profiles, while zero women reported doing so. Ninety-one percent of women said they only liked profiles they were attracted to, while 72% of men said the same.
"Obliga-swiping," is another phrase and it refers to the act of searching for a match on an app. "There's another new term that has come out called 'obliga-swiping,' which is you swipe, and then you tell yourself you are doing something to find a partner, but actually you never ever take it any further," Machin explained.
Consumers spent $2.2 billion in dating apps in 2019 according to App Annie, an app data tracker. These in-app purchases included upgrades so users can see who has liked them or to have more control over their profile such as hiding their age or location. And it's companies such as Match Group — which owns the apps Tinder and Hinge, as well as Match.com and OKCupid — and Magic Lab, owner of Bumble and Badoo, which make up a large part of the online dating market.
People do get a hit of the hormone dopamine when they match with someone on an app and that may make them feel good about themselves, Machin added.
"It's like any form of social media or any sort of app use … is that when you get a connection, when you get a match, you get a dopamine hit, you feel good about yourself, somebody likes me that's great, and dopamine is addictive."
But people need to get off the apps and on to real-life dates, Machin said. "This neurochemistry of attraction isn't released when you are looking at an image online, when you're texting, when you're WhatsApping, all these things, you're not getting that," she said.
Another new term is "breadcrumbing," when someone sends short flirty messages to keep the other person interested even though they have little intention of meeting up.
Machin's advice is to be strict with your swipes. "(Apps) are brilliant for … having introductions (but), be strict with yourself because you can get in a swiping sort of reverie and never actually do anything. You have to be strict and remember that actually getting to know somebody takes time. The way apps work (is) they maybe give us the idea that we can assess things quickly and everything can be done very efficiently. (But) actually, love isn't efficient and forming a relationship isn't efficient, it is about time."