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Are Dating Apps Ruining Marriage or Are They Saving It?

Experts say apps like Tinder and Hinge make it easier than ever to meet your match—but it’s also easier than ever to cheat. What’s a married couple to do?

A few weeks ago, Vanity Fair‘s article on “Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse” came out and almost shut the Internet down with gems like, “It’s like ordering Seamless. But you’re ordering a person.” Married people were feeling all smug and relieved until they got to the part about how many people on Tinder are not actually single: GlobalWebIndex found that a full 30 percent of Tinder users are married, 12 percent are in a relationship, and the majority of those dishonest users are men. Tinder disputes the statistics, telling they did their own study and found that just 1.7 percent of users were married. However, they wouldn’t detail how they conducted the survey, and GlobalWebIndex stands behind its research, saying their firm talked to 47,622 Internet users around the world.

Even if Tinder’s numbers are correct, we’re still talking about tens of thousands of potential cheaters out there. (And that’s not counting the millions of users who had their information leaked recently.) Yes, people have been cheating since the dawn of time, but some experts think dating apps are changing the landscape more quickly and in a much more troubling way than any pre-Internet tryst ever could. “Exploring online is a known gateway to experimentation,” says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, love and relationship expert for AARP and Life Reimagined. “It’s like going down the street looking in windows. Once you look, you might buy.”

That seemed to be the goal of a guy named Ray*. Nicole*, 29, says she tried Tinder since everyone was talking about it, and came across Ray, who seemed cool and well-educated. They matched, got to chatting, and eventually exchanged phone numbers. At first, he kept asking her to come over to his house during the day, telling her he rents out his house, but all his tenants were away on vacation. She (smartly) said she’d rather meet in public, but the two hadn’t yet met in person. Then, one morning, she woke up to this text message:

“I was thoroughly offended and disgusted,” Nicole says. Since she didn’t get the text message until a few hours later, she figured it was too late to call Ray’s wife and tell her he was trying to cheat. But now, she says she’s learned a lot from the experience. “I assume that everyone on Tinder is single,” she says. “Now I actually have to ask people on dating sites whether they’re married or attached!”