Online dating is an example of how people mix intimate relations with economic transactions as it provides a chance for individuals to find partners, at a price. Tinder is an online dating site that was introduced in September 2012 as a free hook-up app. 

In 2015, Tinder plus was developed to provide unlimited swipes, location change and super likes, among other features, at a price of $9.99 to $19.99. The app currently uses ads, promotions, Tinder Select and Tinder Boost to satisfy customer needs and increase its money generation. The purpose of this study is to determine how Tinder app relates with classic views by analyzing its features and functions.

Money Corrodes Relationships

Karl Marx argued that capitalist society tends to undermine its own moral foundation to a point of self destruction. Marx states that money supply provides ability to create new social relationships and power dynamics. Individuals therefore desire to invest and multiply the money they have instead of spending it. This profit motive is what contributes to exploitative relationships (Marx, 1996). Veblen, who studies capitalist consumption, explains that capitalism leads to social competitiveness (Veblen, 1899). When people start to view money as the only reason for interaction, exploitative activities are likely to occur.

Similar to the capitalist societies, Tinder app is under private ownership.  Tinder transactions are based on qualities such as age and attractiveness, and financial potential is highly valued. It is also based on economic judgment where individuals estimate their own value alongside other people’s values to determine whether they belong to a common category. The commercial media such as television has widely been blamed for favouring wealthy people and making others feel less worthy. Similar to other media forms such as television that concentrates on the wealthy, Tinder promotes wealthy users. It has for example introduced Tinder Select which is meant for the elite and celebrities in the society.

The contemporary views realize that online dating sites have incorporated a questionnaire in the form of “profile”. The profile has been built through internet technology that employs psychological categories together with assumptions that promote friendliness through emotional compatibility (Illouz, 2007). Roscoe understands the secret behind investment in online dating and explains the humiliation it places on humanity. Emphasis on appearance in the profile picture expresses how people are standardized as though they were goods (Roscoe, 2014). In Tinder, profile is the first thing which is automatically generated for a person who downloads the app. Looking at the relationship between markets and moral order, it is clear that market operations are rarely controlled by morality.

Profile, Search and Matching

The Tinder app development has been influenced by retail interface where a person swipes right to buy a good. According to Beth Wond, Tinder swipe is meant to provide users with the shopping experience on their mobile devices. The profile creation and search are features of Tinder that have similarities with shopping procedures of retail apps such as the

The only difference between Tinder e-commerce and retail is that the goods in retail do not respond to the buyer in the way a potential partner responds to a swipe right. Self-presentation through the profile pictures is comparable to ‘selling’ while the search and access to others profiles is similar to shopping.

Technology Creates Market

Tinder has commercialized romantic relations to a point where users also view the connections they acquire from the app as opportunities for generating money. Studies show that men whose bios indicate a higher income have more profile views than those with lower income (Ellison & Gibbs). It is no longer the search for romantic love since potential partners now focus more on financial status that the profile picture. Women for example, have gone up to the extent of requesting money from their matches. Maggie Arther is one of the ladies who have used Tinder to scam money off men instead of looking for hook-up (Young, 2017). She convinces her matches to “pay $5 to her PayPal account and see what happens”. Nothing happens though since she gets the money then un-matches her payers. Carol Phinney has also been successful in using a similar scheme. She even got some men to pay her double or above.

Money is Inextricably Bound to Relationships

The classic views concerning human relations and money find that the present Western transactions, like that of Tinder, ignore the social ties that were associated with money or commodity exchange in the pre-capitalist societies. In the pre-capitalist rural society, belief that a gift was something pure distinguished it from commodities. The nature of exchange people engage in, whether money is involved or not, portrays the type of relationship (Parry & Bloch, 1989). Despite that the transactions in Tinder involve human beings, there is no distinction between gift and commodities.

The contemporary views concerning relationships and money find a common belief that economic rationality and intimate relations cannot run smoothly because each raises delicate questions (Zelizer, 2005). This is the reason why the online dating has not been able to balance between these aspects and has therefore opted for economic rationality. The market has been determined to posses a single means of valuation, which is the price (Fourcade & Healy, 2007). It is the same price that Tinder is after; a concept that indicates the app is a market. This is evident in the creation of Tinder Select to separate the rich users from the ordinary society members.

Tinder Select

Economic exchange is made up of social interactions that consist of consumption, production, and distribution (Zelizer, 2005). Alienation of capitalist production does not include alienation of consumption but many businesses seem to see the need for consumer alienation (Miller, 1998).  Consumption has therefore been alienated from human relationships. According to Veblen, individuals’ consumption is not for the purpose of satisfying needs, but to demonstrate wealth and impress others. Tinder Select is a feature that plays the role of separating some category of users from others. The app is preserved for the elite who are not supposed to mingle with the ordinary individuals. It is composed of rich and famous individuals like models, top bosses and upwardly affluent. When a member joins, he or she is given a chance to nominate only one friend as the app should not be crowded.


The development of Tinder online dating website is a great achievement as it has allowed singles all over the world to interact with potential partners who they would not have met. The online matches however lack the mutual trust that characterizes intimate relationships. Most partners are indifferent to each other. Some women further damage the relationships by when they scam money off men. Regardless of the amount of money a person spends on Tinder app, he or she is only assured of a list of potential partners to choose from. There is no guarantee that the potential partner who is swiped right will respond positively and neither is there certainty that the created relationship will turn into a life-long union.

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