Promiscuity certainly predates the internet. Technology, though, adds two things: speed and geography. Using dating apps, men and women can swipe through hundreds of photos of people who are ready, willing and available. Instantly, people who live many miles away can connect. “You’re no longer dependent on who walks through the door of a singles bar,” says Matthew, a 48-year-old financial adviser living in King of Prussia. “By the time I get to a bar, I’ve already arranged a date for that night—sometimes even two.”
Beth Samberg uses the term “buffet mode” to describe the mindset of the newly divorced. “They want to taste everything on the menu—especially people who were in marriages for a long time,” says the 40-year-old realtor, who lives in Bala Cynwyd. “Eventually, you get more selective.”
Matthew disagrees, insisting that time management and multi-tasking are the keys to modern dating. He has joint custody of his kids and is extremely involved in their lives. That leaves him only a few nights to arrange dates. “I think that’s one of the big differences between my generation of divorced men and those from the 1970s or even earlier,” Matthew says. “Back then, dads saw their kids on weekends. There was no such thing as co-parenting.”
Active parenting is great, but lack of time may also be used as a rationale for bad behavior. Matthew and his friend Kyle use Tinder because it gives them the best odds at hitting the “jackpot” and allows them to find available women when they travel to other cities. “Tinder saves time and takes out the guesswork,” says the newly divorced 49-year-old Kyle, who also lives in King of Prussia. “You’re only on Tinder and agreeing to meet if you’re interested in hooking up—to some extent—that night.”
Not everyone understands the implicit contract of Tinder. Samberg was shocked by the sexual forwardness of men she met through the app. The explicit sexting should’ve tipped her off, but she was a babe in the digital dating woods. So she switched to Bumble, which lets women make first contact with interested men.
There’s no shortage of dating apps for people who are separated, divorced, gay, straight, bisexual, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or over 50. But they aren’t for everyone. Forty-seven-year-old Danielle joined a Meetup group for singles in Chester County after she separated from her husband. Although she enjoys the group’s events—dinners, happy hours, movies, outdoor activities—only nine people attended a recent dinner. Danielle could’ve swiped through that in five minutes, then seen the profiles of 20 new people. But she’s heard too many horror stories to try online dating. “I’m moving at a slower pace than many other single people, and I’m OK with that,” she says. “I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, but I also don’t want to do something I’ll regret.”