• Georgie Parkin

Dating Apps VS ‘Real-Life’

Interview with Olivia Petter, Journalist and Host of the Millennial Love podcast

Although the majority of people between the age of 18 and 30 are users of one or more dating apps, are we all still secretly hoping for that movie worthy meet-cute?

According to recent research, roughly a third of new couples met online between 2015-2019. And it is predicted that if the current trends continue, by 2035 the majority of relationships will have started on an app. What has become the norm for teenagers of today seems completely alien to our parents and the 20-30 somethings are stuck somewhere in between.

We are the generation who grew up watching Bridget Jones clock eyes with Mr Darcy after first noticing his hideous christmas jumper. And Natalie who, when introduced to the Prime Minster in Love Actually, couldn’t stop saying Fuck, which he found not only hilarious but endearing and of course proceeded to fall in love with her! Baby, so infatuated by Johnny’s dancing that she blurts out ‘I carried a watermelon.’ Of course, all made infinitely cuter by the magic of Hollywood with their clever use of music, close ups and cheesy script writing, but nonetheless that’s how I pictured meeting the one. (music and all.)

I was thrilled to speak with Olivia Petter, Journalist and host of the Millennial love podcast (a must listen!) Like myself, Olivia is a reluctant user of dating apps. Below, we chat about meeting irl vs dating apps - and whether or not Tinder and the like are ruining romance…

Do you think there is still a stigma associated with meeting on a dating app?

‘I don’t actually, no. It’s so common now to meet people on a dating app, so it’s not seen as a social taboo. That said, I do know a lot of couples who met on apps and actually lie about where they met. I think there is still this assumption that apps are synonymous with casual sex, so if you do manage to form a long-lasting relationship with someone on an app, it’s seen as unusual and there are certainly still people might judge those that met on apps - but then again, they are probably not the ones actually using the apps!’

What are your dating app deal breakers? The things you immediately swipe left to when you see.

‘Lots of emojis in their bio (I just find them cringe), anything arrogant like “I only swipe right for nines”, and people who leave their bios completely blank - it’s just plain lazy.’

Do you think there is a difference in the relationships that started online and the ones that happened more authentically?

'Not necessarily, no. Perhaps at the start but the truth is, a relationship is a relationship. I do think we’re more inclined to treat someone we met on an app poorly compared to someone we met in real life though, purely because of the disposable nature of dating apps. They condition us to see people as interchangeable given how many users we see on an app at one time.'

Do you think it's now less likely to meet 'in real life' because of dating apps?

'Yes - people don’t approach people in real life anymore. They don’t know how!'

What would you do if you saw a guy you liked in a coffee shop, on the train or at the pub? (for example)

'I’d probably do absolutely nothing, but if I was a little bit drunk and feeling a bit more confident (at the pub perhaps), I might try to talk to them at the bar.'

Why, do you believe some people have great success on dating apps and others don't? Do you think it is sheer luck or more to do with the attitude of the user?

'Sheer luck, without a shadow of a doubt.'

And finally, would you still rather meet someone in real life?

'Absolutely! For me, nothing beats the experience of clicking with someone in real life and then developing a relationship with them organically as opposed to online. It feels less forced, there’s more ambiguity, it’s just more exciting. But then again, perhaps I just haven’t met the right person on an app.'


Like Olivia said, we no longer know how to approach people ‘in real life’. We are so used to sending a GIF, an emoji or simply hitting the wave button, which doesn't necessarily translate well to offline situations. Of course, offline relationships are blossoming everyday but I do believe that the popularity of dating apps has created a generation of people who no longer know how to express interest in someone without a phone in their hand.

I know many couples who are in happy and long lasting relationships, all starting with a swipe. Is Olivia right? Did they just get lucky? Once you’re in the relationship, does it matter if you met on an app or bumped into each other in a busy coffee shop, reaching for the last coffee sleeve? At the end of the day, a relationship is a relationship. If you are compatible and ‘meant to be’, perhaps the way in which it started has no impact on the success of the relationship.

The romantic in me still dreams of the meet-cute and the excitement of forming a real life connection with someone. But, like Olivia, maybe I just haven’t met the right person on an app. Perhaps the dating app era has redefined meet-cutes and we’ll now tell our grandchildren the harrowing tale of the hilariously witty bio that spurred a swift flick to the right and commenced the greatest love story of all time. That trumps the matching christmas jumpers right?