Right-swipes and warning flags just how young adults negotiate sex and security on dating apps


Right-swipes and warning flags just 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

Associate 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 is definitely an ARC Linkage partnership with ACON health insurance and Family Planning 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 money as user regarding the discussion AU.

The discussion UK gets funding from all of these organisations

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

Our research that is new shows apps can improve young people’s social connections, friendships and intimate relationships. Nevertheless they can be a way to obtain frustration, exclusion and rejection.

Our research could be the very first to ask app users of diverse genders and sexualities to generally share their experiences of software usage, security and wellbeing. The project combined a paid survey with interviews and innovative workshops in urban and local brand brand New Southern Wales with 18 to 35 12 months olds.

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

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

Dating apps can be utilized to ease boredom as well as talk. Oleg Ivanov/Unsplash

We unearthed that while application users recognised the potential risks of dating apps, in addition they had a variety of methods 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 commonly used condoms for safe sex. Over 90% of right women and men frequently employed condoms.

Simply over one-third of homosexual, bisexual and queer men frequently employed PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to stop HIV transmission.

Half (50.8%) of right people stated they never ever or seldom talked about safe sex with 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 had been “always one that has got to start a intercourse talk over messages”. She used chat to talk about just exactly what she liked, to say her need for condom usage, to offer a merchant account of her very own intimate wellness, also to feel “safer”.

Some homosexual and men’s that are bisexual – such as Grindr and Scruff – enable 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 emotional security might be at an increased risk. Warning flag included not enough information, uncertain photos, and profile text that suggested sexism, racism, along with other qualities that are undesirable.

Confusing pictures may be a flag that is red dating apps. Daria Nepriakhina/Unsplash

Apps that want a shared match before messaging (where both events swipe right) had been recognized to filter down a great deal of undesired conversation.

Numerous individuals felt that red flags had been almost certainly going to come in talk instead of in user pages. These included possessiveness and pushiness, or communications and images which were too sexual, too early.

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

nude pictures entirely unsolicited or the very very first message from you is just five pictures of your dick that I get. I might 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 way to say no for your requirements whenever we meet in real world.

Negotiating permission

Consent emerged being a key concern across all areas of this research. Individuals generally felt safer if they could actually clearly negotiate the forms of intimate contact they desired – or didn’t want – with a partner that is prospective.

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

Amber, 22, suggested consent that is negotiating safe sex via talk:

It is a fun discussion. It doesn’t have to be sexting, it doesn’t need to be super sexy … We just want it had been easier simply to talk about intercourse in a way that is non-sexual. The majority of the girls which are my buddies, they’re love, “it’s method too embarrassing, we don’t explore sex having a guy”, not really whenever they’re making love.

But, others worried that sexual negotiations in talk, as an example regarding the subject of STIs, could “ruin the moment” or consent that is foreclose, governing out of the possibility they might alter their brain.

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

Have always been I going, “okay so at 12 o’clock we’re likely to do that” then imagine if I don’t 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, urban) had an on-line team talk with buddies where they might share details of whom they certainly were ending up in, as well as others described telling female household members where they planned to be.

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

If at any point We deliver them an email about sport, they realize 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 safety that is“ideal, they would not always follow them. Rachel (20, right, feminine, regional) installed an application for telling buddies once you expect you’ll be house, but then deleted it.

We tell my buddies to simply get together in public areas despite the fact that We don’t follow that guideline.

Handling disappointment

For most individuals, dating apps supplied a place for pleasure, play, connecting with community or meeting people that are new. For other people, app use could possibly be stressful or difficult.

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

certainly can deliver someone right into a depression that is deep well as 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 lots of right men experienced apps as a place of “scarcity” in comparison to “an abundance of option” for women.

Dating apps could be stressful and aggravating. Kari Shea/Unsplash