Economics Explains Tinder and Creepy Guys


A few disclaimers: I make some very strong assumptions to illustrate a point. This article is not at all academic in nature. I use very basic economic principles and take great liberty in defining them given a specific context. Also I do not intend to say that a particular gender is wrong or right, I am simply making observations.

Recently I was watching Simple Pickup, and they got a female friend Kelly to create a Tinder account. In less than 24 hours she received 600 messages from men. Simple Pickup makes it pretty clear that women can get bombarded with all sorts of messages from male matches. (see 0:31)

To make a stronger claim, men will swipe right more frequently than women. You can see a comedic example of this here. Why is this so?

JustFourGuys presents a BBC speed dating study that shows on average women are 2x pickier than men. Participants have 22 separate dates in a speed dating event. In this scenario on average men would like to see 5 women again and women would like to see 2 men again. The study accounts for the selectiveness of women using a behavioral argument.

We know that across a whole range of behaviors women tend to take fewer risks. They relate this to the fact that making mistakes are much more costly for women than for men because of childbearing. So obviously if you make a mistake in dating the wrong man and having a relationship with the wrong man, you might have nine months carrying a child, then caring for a child. While for men, the costs are lower.

Relating this back to Tinder, we can see that women operating under the same logic would be more selective than men. So as Simple Pickup puts it, “every cute girl you are talking to is getting bombarded with messages”. This leaves “cute girls” with plenty of freedom to choose who they want to reply to and they may receive so many messages they may not be able to respond to all of them. In economic terms if men are supplying tinder matches and women are demanding them, we have an excess supply of tinder matches, more than women can consume. Here consumption means actually conversing with the person enough to make an evaluation as to whether you are interested or not, and then being interested. I set up the supply-demand relation in this manner because many women have expressed the belief that there is a significant chance if they swipe right they will receive a match. Therefore our model will assume men are supplying matches to women in the sense they are almost always swiping right, with the occasional no (quite an assumption, realistically men are 3x more likely to swipe right than women; 46%  to 14% likeliness to swipe right in this sample set).

Now with an excess supply of matches at their disposal, women can be selective about consuming a tinder match due to their sheer availability. They can wait for men to make the first move, make sure they have an interesting start to the conversation, and eliminate people who fail these initial criteria or become uninteresting over time. Given a wide array of choices and being selective, it makes sense for women to find optimal tinder matches to consume. Here is where the notion of creepy guys come into play.

The rant that starts at 0:18 details the frustration of a man being rejected by a woman he clearly is wishing to pursue sexually. Frustration may occur because men are more likely to be rejected by women based on the selectiveness we spent time outlining.

Basic economics tells us that excess supply (or overproduction) is really bad for the profits producers are trying to make. Overproduction can decrease prices to increase demand, cause unsold goods, or even unemployment. For this scenario unsold goods relates to unmatched men on Tinder, and unemployment is effectively quitting Tinder out of frustration. Now price relates to the worth of a tinder match that a woman would like to consume. With lower odds of getting matched, men who are unsuccessful in having any women consume their match will significantly lower the amount of effort they put into romancing their matched women. Profit relates to the reward or satisfaction men are receiving for being on Tinder. In an excess supply scenario not many of them are being rewarded. This means they are discouraged enough to offer up dick pics or make sudden sexual advances.

 I am making some strong assumptions, which again do not hold for everyone:
1. every man would like to have sex with women they are matched with on Tinder
2. all women share a dislike of dick pics because they are selective and have additional criteria they want their partner to meet

With that being said the selectiveness in the market for tinder matches is causing frustrated men to employ a low effort mass marketing scheme. Swipe right for more people, get straight to the point with no notion of romance or respect, and hopefully find a woman that responds positively.

Here is a collection of women responding to creepy behavior from men on Tinder.

The overwhelming consensus from Creepy Text Theater is….most women Do Not  appreciate that sort of behavior. It is  quite different from what they are looking for. Here are some reasons as to why unsuccessful men should stop acting in this manner:

1. Based on our assumptions, very few women will respond to you positively
2. The negative impression you make is very lasting and ruins any chance you had in the first place

3. Being anonymous is not a good reason to be a complete jerk. With women’s expectations the way they are, even if they live 100 miles from you they are still only keeping you in chat if they can see themselves standing you in person. So using anonymity to display sexual intentions is really hurting your chances of having a girl consume your match. Women (or people in general) do like to feel respected on some level. Modest chances are better than no chance at all.

While there are many so called “dating experts” or “pickup gurus” on the internet, I’m not very convinced that their advice is legitimate. In many circumstances patience is a virtue. If my evidence has shown anything, it is the fact that if you are the unsuccessful man on Tinder, you will not be getting laid every night or mutually talking dirty to every Tinder match. Realistic expectations and patience are important. The real life advice I can give is to continue your search like a normal, respecting person. It gives you much better odds. Simple Pickup gave great advice in the sense that spending more effort in being creative in your approach to girls on Tinder helps distinguish you from the creeps or generally boring people that are still respectful. Once learned this does not take much effort and you will probably get better responses. So no more offers for dick pics or I’ll tell your mom.

3 comments on “Economics Explains Tinder and Creepy Guys

  1. Jenna says:

    Interesting read–I see that we both decided to write about tinder and create wordpress accounts on the same day. Perhaps we matched on tinder (just kidding).


  2. jadelesure says:

    Great read! The crazy part its not just tinder this happens but every so called dating site.


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