Newsletter: Have Dating Apps Killed Romance?

Dating Apps Killed Romance Debate

Here’s what we have in store this week:

•   A debate about love in the time of apps
   A closer look at people’s goals for dating online
   Your Sunday reading list


Valentine’s Day can be rough. But maybe it’s supposed to be. When Emperor Claudius banned all marriages in 270 AD, thinking it would encourage more conscripts in the Roman army, he soon learned that a temple priest named Valentine was defying his order … helping couples wed in secret.

Just before his beheading on February 14th, the priest left a farewell note to his friend, the jailer’s daughter, signing it “From Your Valentine.”

Almost ever since (at least for the uncoupled) February 14th has been creating unrealized expectations.

But in 1995, at the beginning of the dot com boom, something changed.

The world’s first dating website – – was launched, allowing singles to “flirt with potential matches without having to change out of their pajamas.”

Fast-forward almost three decades, and the dating app industry has exploded, with options like Tinder, Bumble, and OKCupid dominating the landscape.

But what’s it done to us, and our notions of romance?

And would St. Valentine approve?

Well … apropos of Valentine’s Day, we unearthed a favorite: Have Dating Apps Killed Romance?

Anthropologist and Chief Scientific Adviser for Helen Fisher and Tom Jacques, Tinder’s Chief Technology Officer, square off against journalist and host of the TED Radio hour Manoush Zomorodi and her partner, Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology and co-author of “Modern Romance.”

John Donvan moderates.

Have a watch or listen.

And as always, let us know what you think.


DEBATING THE DATA: Are Dating Apps a Victory for Love?

The dating app stereotype often centers on “hook-ups.” But what’s the data say? Learn more here.




Have dating apps killed romance?



“Dating apps make it harder, not easier to be swept away by another person.…Because the phone demands our attention. It is always telling us that there’s something or someone that deserves our attention more than the person we’re with or the thing we’re doing now.”Learn More

Eric Klinenberg

Open to Debate



“The drive for romance and love is one of the most powerful brain systems the human animal has ever evolved. Apps have their problems, but apps cannot, never have, and never will kill the brain circuitry for romance.”
Learn More

Helen Fisher

Open to Debate


Open to Debate U.S. ALUMNI

Points of View


The biggest story you’ve never heard about today’s federal debt
Robert Reich | February 1, 2023
Eurasia Review

Watch Robert’s debate on taxing the rich


Seven stories about rage and regret
Daniel Jones (and Miya Lee) | December 17, 2022
The New York Times

Listen to Daniel’s debate on true love


Could we have prevented Tyre Nichols’s murder?
William A. Galston | January 31, 2023
The Wall Street Journal

Watch William’s debate on religion in America


Biden’s open border will cost Democrats in 2024
Liz Peek | February 1, 2023
Fox News

Watch Liz’s debate on nominating Trump


There’s a remedy for Britain’s problems: Rejoin the E.U.
Fareed Zakaria | February 2, 2023
The Washington Post

Watch Fareed’s debate on the drug war


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