Right-swipes and flags that are red 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 as well as 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 money 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 member associated with the discussion AU.

The discussion UK receives funding from all of these organisations

Popular commentary on dating apps frequently associates their usage with “risky” sex, harassment and bad psychological state. But whoever has utilized an app that is dating there’s much more to it than that.

Our new studies have shown dating apps can enhance young people’s social connections, friendships and intimate relationships. Nevertheless they can be a supply of frustration, rejection and exclusion.

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

While dating apps were used to generally meet individuals for intercourse and long-lasting relationships, these were more widely used to “relieve boredom” as well as for “chat”.

Widely known apps utilized had been Tinder (among LGBTQ+ ladies, right men and women), Grindr (LGBTQ+ guys), okay Cupid (for non-binary individuals), mail order wives and Bumble (right females).

Dating apps can be used to alleviate monotony as well as for talk. Oleg Ivanov/Unsplash

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

Secure intercourse and permission

Nearly all study individuals commonly used condoms for safe intercourse. Over 90% of right gents and ladies frequently employed condoms.

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

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

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

Some homosexual and bisexual men’s apps – such as Grindr and Scruff – provide for some settlement around sexual health insurance and intimate methods inside 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 safety that is emotional be at an increased risk. Warning flag included not enough information, ambiguous pictures, and profile text that suggested sexism, racism, as well as other qualities that are undesirable.

Confusing pictures could be a red banner on dating apps. Daria Nepriakhina/Unsplash

Apps that want a shared match before messaging (where both parties swipe right) had been recognized to filter down a whole lot of unwelcome connection.

Numerous individuals felt that warning flags had been prone to come in talk in the place of in individual pages. These included pushiness and possessiveness, or messages and photos which were too intimate, too quickly.

Charles (34, gay/queer, male, metropolitan), as an example, defined flags that are red:

nude pictures totally unsolicited or even the very very first message from you is just five pictures of your dick that I get. I might genuinely believe that’s a straight up signal that you’re not planning to respect my boundaries … So I’m perhaps perhaps not likely to have a chance to say no for your requirements when we meet in actual life.

Negotiating permission

Consent emerged being a key concern across every area for the study. Individuals generally felt safer once they could actually explicitly negotiate the sorts of intimate contact they desired – or didn’t want – with a potential partner.

Of 382 study individuals, feminine participants (of most sexualities) were 3.6 times prone to like to see app-based information regarding intimate permission than male participants.

Amber, 22, suggested negotiating consent and safe intercourse via talk:

It is a fun discussion. It doesn’t need to be sexting, it doesn’t need to be super sexy … We just desire it absolutely was easier simply to talk about intercourse in a way that is non-sexual. Almost all of the girls which can be my buddies, they’re love, “it’s method too embarrassing, we don’t speak about sex having a guy”, not whenever they’re making love.

Nonetheless, others worried that sexual negotiations in talk, as an example in the subject of STIs, could “ruin the moment” or foreclose consent choices, ruling out of the possibility which they might alter their brain.

Chelsea (19, bisexual, feminine, local) noted:

Have always been we going, “okay so at 12 o’clock we’re likely to try this” then imagine if we don’t would you like to?

Security precautions

Meeting up, women, non-binary people and men who had sex with men described safety strategies that involved sharing their location with friends when it came to.

Ruby (29, bisexual, feminine, metropolitan) had a group that is online with friends where they’d share information on whom these people were ending up in, as well as others described telling feminine family relations 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 a note about sport, they already know that shit is certainly going down … So if We deliver them a note like, “How could be the soccer going?” they know to phone me personally.

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

We tell my buddies to just hook up in public areas despite the fact that We don’t follow that guideline.

Handling dissatisfaction

For a lot of 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 irritating.

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

surely can deliver somebody right into a deep depression since well as an ego boost. In the event that you’ve been from the software and had little to no matches or no success, you start to concern your self.

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

Dating apps are stressful and irritating. Kari Shea/Unsplash