Right-swipes and warning flag – how young adults negotiate sex and security on dating apps

Right-swipes and warning flag – how young adults negotiate sex and security on dating apps


Professor of Media and correspondence, Faculty of wellness, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of tech

Connect professor in Media and Communications, Swinburne University of tech

Disclosure statement

Kath Albury receives funding through the Australian Research Council plus the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. The Safety danger and health on Dating Apps task can be an ARC Linkage partnership with ACON health insurance and Family preparing NSW.

Anthony McCosker currently gets financing through the Australian Research Council, Department of personal Services, Department of Premier and Cabinet (VIC), Paul Ramsay Foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.


Swinburne University of tech provides financing as being user associated with discussion AU.

The discussion UK gets funding from the organisations


Popular commentary on dating apps frequently associates their usage with “risky” intercourse, harassment and bad psychological state. But those who have utilized a dating application understands there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

Our research that is new shows apps can enhance young people’s social connections, friendships and intimate relationships. Nevertheless they can certainly be a supply of frustration, rejection and exclusion.

Our research may be the very very very first to ask app users of diverse genders and sexualities to talk about their experiences of application usage, security and wellbeing. The task combined a survey that is online interviews and imaginative workshops in metropolitan and local brand brand brand brand New Southern Wales with 18 to 35 12 months olds.

While dating apps were used to satisfy individuals for intercourse and relationships that are long-term these people were more widely used to “relieve boredom” as well as for “chat”.

Typically the most popular apps utilized had been Tinder (among LGBTQ+ females, right people), Grindr (LGBTQ+ males), okay Cupid (for non-binary individuals), and Bumble (right females).

Dating apps are generally utilized to alleviate monotony as well as talk. Oleg Ivanov/Unsplash

We unearthed that while application users recognised the potential risks of dating apps, additionally they had a selection of techniques to assist them to feel safer and handle their well-being – including negotiating permission and safe intercourse.

Secure intercourse and permission

Nearly all study individuals frequently employed condoms for safe intercourse. Over 90% of right both women and men frequently employed condoms.

Simply over one-third of homosexual, bisexual and queer males commonly used PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to stop HIV transmission.

Half (50.8%) of right people stated they never ever or hardly ever talked about sex that is safe possible lovers on dating/hook-up apps. Around 70% of LGBTQ+ participants had those conversations to some degree.

Amber (22, bisexual, feminine, local) stated she ended up being “always one that needs to start a intercourse talk over messages”. She used chat to talk about exactly just just exactly just just what she liked, to say her need for condom usage, to provide a free account of her very own health that is sexual and also to feel “safer”.

Some homosexual and men’s that are bisexual – such as Grindr and Scruff – permit some settlement around intimate health insurance and intimate techniques in the profile. Users can share HIV status, therapy regimes, and “date last tested”, along with saying their favored intimate activities.

Warning flag

Numerous individuals talked about their techniques of reading a profile for “red flags”, or indicators that their real or psychological security might be in danger. Warning flag included not enough information, uncertain pictures, and profile text that suggested sexism, racism, as well as other unwelcome characteristics.

Security precautions

With regards to came to meeting up, ladies, non-binary individuals and guys that has intercourse with guys described safety strategies that involved sharing their location with buddies.

Ruby (29, bisexual, feminine, metropolitan) had a group that is online with buddies where they’d share information on whom these people were ending up in, as well as others described telling feminine nearest and dearest where they planned become.

Anna (29, lesbian, female, local) described an arrangement she had along with her buddies so you can get away from bad times:

If at any point We deliver them an email about sport, they understand that shit is certainly going down […] So them a message like, “How is the football going?” they know to call me if I send.

While all individuals described “ideal” security precautions, they didn’t constantly follow them. Rachel (20, right, feminine, regional) installed an application for telling buddies once you expect you’ll be house, but then removed it.

We tell my buddies to simply get together in public places and even though We don’t follow that guideline.

Handling frustration

For several individuals, dating apps supplied a place for pleasure, play, linking with community or fulfilling people that are new. For other people, app usage could possibly be stressful or aggravating.

Rebecca (23, lesbian, female, local) noted that apps:

absolutely can deliver somebody into a depression that is deep well being an ego boost. You begin to question yourself if you’ve been on the app and had little to no matches or no success.

Henry (24, directly male, metropolitan) felt that numerous right men experienced apps as a place of “scarcity” in comparison to “an abundance of option” for women.

Dating apps may be stressful and annoying. Kari Shea/Unsplash

Regina (35, right, feminine, regional) recommended that application users who felt unsuccessful had been more likely to keep this to by by by themselves, further increasing emotions of isolation:

I do believe when anyone are receiving a time that is hard the apps they have been quite personal about any of it. They’ll just share with friends whom they understand are regular or present users and may reveal their use – even bordering on obsession with swiping – in a painful and sensitive minute.

Individuals shared a variety of personal techniques for handling the stress connected with software usage including taking break, deleting apps, turning off “push” notifications and restricting time allocated to apps.

Many individuals welcomed more focus on apps among medical researchers and health that is public, they cautioned them against determining apps as “risky” spaces for intercourse and relationships.

As Jolene (27, queer, feminine, metropolitan) stated:

application dating is just section of regular dating life and consequently wellness advertising should completely incorporate it to their promotions, in the place of it be something niche or various.