If you were to query “dating apps” in the iOS store, you would see 2,191 choices. In fact, by the time I’m done writing this, assume this number is 2,200. I’m serious.

The popularity of matchmaking applications is not that surprising. After all, complaints like “I’m lonely” and “I hate being single” are very common. They’re about as prevalent as “I feel fat” and “I’m broke”. The only difference is it’s easier to get laid using technology than it is to grow your wallet and shrink your thighs.

That’s why there’s theoretically a dating app for everyone. From Christian Mingle and eHarmony, to Recon and Swing Ma’am, the range of choices can fill every need from random hookups to marriage. Furthermore, these apps are convenient. You can digitally flirt or “wink” at any time, and they’re definitely cheaper than barhopping, especially in New York City.

The only question is why do so many people say “online dating sucks”? Is it technology disappointing us, or is it something else? It’s hard to say.

While some applications have a lousy interface and user experience, there must be reasons beyond “bugs” that bug people. After all, millions of people use them, so theoretically some users must be attractive.

Why Matchmaking Algorithms Fail

Anyone who has used online dating apps has learned to question the validity of other people’s profiles. Many people using these apps miraculously lose 10 pounds and ten years in their dating profile.

For example, a 41-year-old woman may count wrinkles instead of birthdays to be included in the 30-39-age category. Likewise, a man wearing a hat in his profile picture selects “brown hair” instead of “bald” because a few strands hold on for dear life.

“Body type” may be the most convoluted description field of all though. The category choices typically include ambiguous adjectives like “fit”, “big & beautiful”, and “average”. These selections are very subjective, especially since plus size is the national average. On the other hand, a skinny girl in Brooklyn may perceive herself as “average” because hipsters and gay men incessantly surround her.

The Self-Evaluation Conundrum

From ancient pictures to “projecting” your income, matchmaking apps aren’t architected to fix overly positive or inaccurate self-perceptions. Even if a dating app had a Photoshop detector, it is people who describe themselves, not technology.

This is why location-based apps (like Grindr) have grown in popularity. When a potential date is standing ten feet away, you get better information than a profile picture. On the other hand, if someone is “in the closet” and secretly married, only an app requiring a social security number could dispel this level of dishonesty.

How to Uncover Inaccuracy

While some self-evaluations are overly optimistic, the grammar police can uncover telling evidence. If a proclaimed “post graduate” messages you with “your beautiful” (versus “you’re beautiful”), you can respond with “my beautiful what?” to check them on it.

For everything else, there is Facebook integration. If you are lucky enough to glimpse a profile, you can ballpark a missing birth date through his or her high school friends. Better yet, if someone is still married, you may figure it out from his or her relationship status.

Aside from checking someone’s Facebook stats, the best social integration benefit of all may be circumventing the “creepy factor”. While weirdoes and stalkers have been around for centuries (well before the Internet), finding candidates through your social network can potentially be safer (such as Coffee Meet Bagel). Other applications like Tinder do the same thing, but they also predict matches based on click behavior. After all, do people always know what they want? What we think we want doesn’t always match what we do!

To Online Date or Not

At the end of the day, dating can be somewhat miserable. Then again, so are plenty of relationships! Online or offline, finding the right match is challenging. How else do people justify ridiculous wedding budgets?

This is why we can’t always blame the technology. These apps are just another extension of old school matchmaking. They are a little more convenient, and usually more discrete. They are just the modern way of putting some fun back in dysfunctional dating.