SPECIAL REPORT: Online love connections - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Online love connections

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(WAOW) - Love is in the air, but how about on your phone?

Tens of thousands of users are looking for love online and the dating pool is getting bigger each day.

Remember the saying, "Love at first sight"? Now, it's more like, "Love at first swipe."

"There are a lot of cute people out there," said Amanda Peterka of Wausau.

No longer are blind dates, friend set-ups or speed dating necessary.

Matchmaking is going mobile through dating apps on phones and tablets.

"The look will catch my eye," said Vikram Gill of Stevens Point.

"If they were into sports that would be a swipe," said Joel Stevenson of Stevens Point.

"A good smile is always a good thing," said Torie Hove of Wausau.

One example is Tinder.

The app uses the GPS feature on your phone to find other people in the area. If you don't like them, you can swipe left. If you do like them, you can swipe right. If you both swiped right, then it's a match.

That's when you can start a conversation with that person or keep playing.

"I'll find myself sitting up at night and you're just scrolling through and you're like nope, yes and then you get a match and then you get like all excited," said Peterka.

According to TechCrunch.com, on Tinder there are more than 1.5 billion swipes a day. That leads to 21 million matches a day. It all adds up to 5 billion matches total, since the app launched about two years ago on college campuses.

"We're thinking about dating someone, starting a relationship with someone, but in a different way," said Brian Weiland, a psychologist at the Behavioral Health Clinic of Wausau.

Weiland says the app plays to our most basic instinct.

"Which is physical attraction and I think 3,000 years ago this could have been a really good thing when we were really focused on genetics," he said.

Weiland says thanks to technology, dating is undergoing its own evolution.

"In our culture there's always a push for things to be better more efficient just quicker in general," said Weiland. "So any way that we can speed up that process make it any less anxiety provoking, I think that we're going to try to do it."

UW-Stevens Point freshman Tess Tranel says she started using Tinder a few months ago.

"It felt good because I was using it right out of a relationship, so it's like 'oh! someone likes me,'"said Tranel.

Weiland says it's that validation that makes this modern dating game so addictive.

"It makes us as humans feel worthy and it really just touches a deep part of us as humans," said Weiland. "We don't want to be lonely."

But Tranel says she found she had little to talk about with her matches.

"It was just small talk you never got to the deep stuff," said Tranel. "It's kind of more for flirtatious reasons rather than actually meeting someone."

Those more flirtatious intentions are also what Tinder is known for.

"There are just a lot of guys on there looking for girls, you know hookups like that or nothing really serious," said Peterka.

But that's not everyone.

UWSP junior Vikram Gill says he's had successful dates.

"I've made a few friends and I've had a few romantic experiences," said Gill.

He says the secret is taking it a little more seriously.

"You need to read their profiles because it's so superficial just to look at them," said Gill. "I tend to reply and have a conversation because you never know where it's going to lead."

But not every face-to-face meeting leads to fireworks.

"I would choose to meet in a public place because you would never know by just looking at a picture," said Peterka.

Amanda Peterka of Wausau says her Tinder date went sour quickly.

"It did end up being really awkward," said Peterka. "He ended up leaving. He didn't look like any of his pictures."

Proof, psychologists say, in-person chemistry is still just as important.

"This is one method, but there's a whole other side that they're choosing not to put on social media that you would certainly kind of have to investigate and explore yourself and that kind of thing is only done in person or via phone," said Weiland.

But are Tinder and other dating apps just a fad?

Weiland says no.

"This is the wave of the future," he said. "I think we're going to continue to see this in more creative ways."

"Online communication is very normal to me and whether you want to meet them or not is us to you," said Gill.

So perhaps that special someone is just a swipe away.

Tinder is becoming so popular, there's also a Tinder Plus version that subscribers can buy.

It offers "an undo" swipe button and other features.

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