The Case Against Online Dating Part 1: Commodification

Trey Hamilton
7 min readJun 21, 2022

Did you know the first dating site launched in 1994, followed shortly thereafter by in 1995? Back then online dating was seen as creepy and only lackluster nerds who couldn’t get dates in real life would go on there.

Now dating apps and online dating are mainstream in its truest form. By 2007 Americans spent $500 million on online dating sites.

Now it’s the second most profitable sector of the internet economy.

What’s the first?

It’s the category that would require people to use their browser in incognito mode ;)

Online dating services are expected to rake in over $4.0 billion this year in the United States alone.

Of course, it’s making that much money! It creates opportunities for people from specific communities to connect with each other, LGBTQ plus folks, people in rural areas, elderly or disabled people, hell even fly fishermen, farmers, single parents, and much much more.

It’s the modern quintessential unthreatening way to meet new people. And sometimes it’s just a tool to screen out potentially bad matches.

Now more than ever there’s a little more to the equation, however. Something else is going on that explains why online dating can feel so hard and occasionally pretty depressing and demoralizing.

The commodification of dating

Dating is now commodified more than ever!

Scholars Rebecca de Heino, Nicole B. Ellison, and Jennifer L. Gibbs note in their article relationship shopping

“dating sites are typically designed like online shopping platforms, evoking the sensation of literally window shopping for a match”.

Just think about its functionality and the design of online dating sites, they encourage people to adopt a marketplace orientation towards the online dating experience. Much like if you were browsing on Amazon.

Trey Hamilton

Author - The First Date Fix - Dating Coach - Content Creator -Dog Dad | follow me for some ramblings of a millennial who has dated. A LOT! TheFirstDateFix.Com