Dr. Carbino: “We Tend to Assign So Much Significance to the Story of How We Met”
AL DÍA interviewed Dr. Jess Carbino, a native of Philadelphia, and online dating and relationship expert. She currently serves as Sociologist at Bumble, a…
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Tinder, OkCupid, POF… In recent years, several dating apps have emerged, helping millions of people around the world to find the love of their lives or perhaps simply to meet new people. Most dating apps work the same way: when two people - by simply swiping right on someone’s picture -show that they like each other, the famous "it's a match!" occurs -and they can start chatting. Who starts chatting and aks out on a real date, that is another story, but in 2014, a young American entrepreneur called Whitney Wolfe, co-founder of Tinder, decided that women should be the ones that take the first step. So she launched Bumble, a dating app where women are the ones who make the first move.
Wolfe’s mission for Bumble was simple: create a female-first platform grounded in positive behavior, which would strive to fix the broken system surrounding antiquated gender norms when it comes to connecting. The idea turned out to be a success. world. In less than 3 years, her strategic vision has led to Bumble’s growth of nearly 25 million users worldwide and has single-handedly disrupted the way people connect online and off.
To better understand the dynamics of men and women in the world of online dating, AL DÍA NEWS interviewed Dr. Jess Carbino, a native from Philadelphia, and currently Bumble's sociologist and an online dating and relationship expert. Dr. Jess previously served as Tinder's Sociologist and has been called by The NY Post "the Dr. Ruth of the swipe right generation". She attended Emory University, where she graduated with High Honors in just three years. Following Emory, Jess worked on Capitol Hill and then moved to California, where she received her PhD in sociology from UCLA. Her doctoral research has broadly focused on sex, dating and relationships. Dr. Jess' dissertation, “Dating in the 21st Century” used data from several online dating sites to answer the age-old question: “what do men and women want?”
Dating apps remove an element of magic in relationships: the story of how we met. Do we give too much importance to these stories?
I think the importance we give to the story of first meeting is problematic because it places the emphasis on the meeting rather than the relationship itself. We tend to assign so much significance to the story of meeting because we have been socialized to evaluate a relationship based upon how the couple met. This socialization, however, is problematic because it Is largely based upon romanticized myths we have about love and romance, such as the idea of one true love or love at first sight. These myths tend to gloss over how beautiful and complex relationships really are and remove the magic from how the relationship evolves over time.
Why is it necessary to have a dating app for women or feminists?
Having an app for women is necessary because dating is largely based upon scripts in which women are expected to be passive and wait for the advances of men. Given major shifts in women’s labor force, educational, and economic attainment these scripts are incredibly outmoded. At the same time, there is still a very strong adherence to these traditionally gendered scripts so having an app that structurally allows women to change the script is incredibly important.
The ways of flirting - or the art of seduction - varies in different cultures. Latin cultures, for example, tend to be more 'macho’, with the preconceived idea that men should take the first step, while in northern European countries like Germany, Holland and Sweden, it's the women who are accustomed to making the first move. Do you detect these cultural trends in the app users in different parts of the world?
I tend to think about flirting based upon the five styles that psychologists have developed that both men and women use across context. I think in Latin American contexts a playful flirting style in which flirting is adopted for the purpose of fun is very common.
Spinsters vs Eligible Bachelors - Is it bad to be single? Why does the obsession to find a partner still exist?
There is a clearly a different connotation assigned to women being single versus men being single. Until men reach a certain age there is very little stigma associated with their being single compared to their female counterparts. While being single certainly is not bad and there is a growing movement in the US towards being single, there is still strong social pressure to be coupled. The pressure to be coupled has existed for centuries and was largely based on a desire to create social control and reproduce class boundaries.
Dating apps convert a relationship into just another commodity, just like buying a pair of shoes on the internet, now I have access to an array of men that I choose from based upon their profile photo. Is there not a risk of a superficial love?
The concern regarding the commodification of daters is not well founded. Unlike traditional consumer choices, individuals are socialized from a young age about the partners they select. They are socialized to believe in meeting being based upon chance and that one day the stars will align and they will experience their some enchanted evening. There is no such socialization regarding purchasing shoes or jars of jam. Moreover, the consequences of selecting a bad partner are far more high than the consequences of selecting a bad pair of shoes. The meanings and consequences associated with finding a partner therefore prevent us from being reduced to superficial love.
What does a woman look for in a man? Has much changed since our parents' generation? Are millennial women so different from fortysomethings?
Women and men seek very similar things in each other. Women desire attractiveness, humor, intelligence, and kindness. For the past twenty years, there has been a major shift in which men and women are now seeking egalitarian relationships. Younger women are far more inclined to seek relationships that are defined on the basis of equality.