Searching for “interesting people”: Chinese men’s that are gay of relationship development on dating apps

Searching for “interesting people”: Chinese men’s that are gay of relationship development on dating apps

Article Information

Shangwei Wu, Department of Media and correspondence, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Woudestein, Van der Goot building, M8-16, P.O. Box 1738, Rotterdam, NL-3000 DR, the Netherlands. E-mail: email protected

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Cellphone dating applications perform a role that is prominent Chinese homosexual men’s social everyday lives. Centered on in-depth interviews with 21 participants, this research explores exactly just how metropolitan homosexual singles in Asia develop social relationships on dating apps. It reveals that relationship development is usually driven by casual conversations, that aren’t inspired by clear purposes that are pragmatic. Casual conversations have a tendency to unfold around typical hobbies or experiences, serving being a supply of sociability, or satisfaction in socializing it self. In comparison to casual conversations, two types of conversations are considered extremely instrumental and undesirable: one is the sex-oriented discussion targeted at instant sexual encounters; one other could be the interrogative discussion by which individuals ask private concerns in a nonreciprocal and rigid means. Besides wanting sociability, users “relationalize” casual intercourse by perceiving it as a type of social connection and endowing it using the prospective to foster a relationship. This can be additionally mirrored in users preference that is intimate lovers with whom they could hold a discussion. Users also exploit the affordances of various news platforms and capture the relationship potential by platform switching. They change to the main-stream news platform WeChat to get more synchronous interaction and to gather more identity cues from one another. Platform switching also signals willingness for relationship development and trust that is mutual. Nonetheless, users continue back to apps that are dating brand new opportunities for social relationships.


Mobile phone applications that are dating or “dating apps, ” have actually triggered social debates about love and intercourse. Notwithstanding the different and frequently entangled motives users have actually (Timmermans & De Caluwe, 2017; Ward, 2017), dating apps are continuously known as “hook-up apps” by scientists, particularly in gay dating app studies (Albury & Byron, 2016; Davis, Flowers, Lorimer, Oakland, & Frankis, 2016; MacKee, 2016; Race, 2015a). Affordances of dating apps be seemingly manifest within the facilitation of casual sex (Licoppe, Riviere, & Morel, 2015; MacKee, 2016) instead of “serious” relationships (Chan, 2018; Yeo & Fung, 2018). Because of the blended motivations reported by users, along with a propensity of scientists together with news to market a mainly casual intercourse script, dating app studies could reap the benefits of a wider viewpoint as to how xpickup and exactly why individuals use dating apps. We repeat this by centering on social relationships, understood to be “connections that you can get between those who have recurring interactions which are sensed by the individuals to possess meaning that is personal (August & Rook, 2013, p. 1838), so we ask the next concern: Just how can users initiate and develop social relationships on dating apps?

Using this concern, we look at the Chinese context. Dating apps have actually gained an incredible number of Chinese gay users. Although China’s “Great Firewall” has limited cyberspace link with foreign dating apps ( e.g., Tinder and Grindr), these apps are nevertheless very popular among metropolitan users who make use of virtual personal system (VPN) to climb up the firewall. Meanwhile, regional apps thrive within the safe haven protected by the “Great Firewall. ” Blued, as an example, has significantly more than 40 million registered users worldwide, around 70% of who come from Asia (Cao, 2018). In Asia alone, Blued has significantly more than 3 million day-to-day users that are activeHernandez, 2016).

Using this research, we aspire to know how single metropolitan Chinese gay men develop social relationships on dating apps. We explore their usage habits, their objectives of internet dating, and their understandings of casual intercourse, or intercourse away from stereotypical romantic relationship. We determine exactly just how these factors intermesh with all the technological affordances of dating apps. Before presenting our analysis, we first review the literary works in the affordances of dating apps and homosexual users’ sexual methods.

Literature review

Affordances of dating apps

Affordances derive from the discussion between subjective perceptions of utility and objective characteristics of artifacts (Gibson, 1979). In news technology studies, the idea of affordances underlines the “mutuality of actor motives and technology abilities that provide the potential for the particular action” (Majchrzak, Faraj, Kane, & Azad, 2013, p. 39). In connection with affordances of dating apps, their technical capabilities are manifest many prominently through their interfaces. Even though browsing interfaces of dating apps tend to be more or less distinctive from one another, they are able to efficiently be classified into two kinds (see Figure 1 ). One kind has a list view, presenting a variety of nearby users’ profiles in descending purchase of geographical proximity. This kind includes the most used apps that are gay-specific such as for instance Grindr and Blued. It’s possible to start a conversation with any user presented from the display screen. One other kind gift suggestions one solitary profile at a time. Users want to swipe kept or directly on the profile to signal their dis/interest in developing an association. Personal texting can be done only once both users signal their interest. Representatives with this kind are Tinder as well as the Chinese app that is gay.

Figure 1. The screenshots reveal the interfaces of Blued (left) and Aloha (right), two apps that are dating by Chinese businesses.

Regardless of the differences between these kind of apps, their provided affordances are rather salient whenever dating apps as an entire are in comparison to other news platforms. Comparison is achievable when you look at the feeling that various things permit particular affordances to degrees that are differentTreem & Leonardi, 2013). As an example, a cell phone has a higher level of portability than the usual laptop (Schrock, 2015). To comprehend the affordances of dating apps, scientists have contrasted dating apps with dating web sites. Chan (2017) contends that five affordances differentiate dating apps from dating internet sites: (a) flexibility, (b) proximity, (c) immediacy, (d) authenticity, and ( e) artistic dominance. First, dating apps afford mobility—they can be properly used anywhere whenever you want, given that they run using portable devices such as smart phones and pills. 2nd, while dating sites link people in broader areas, dating apps connect users who’re in each other’s proximity that is immediate. 3rd, impromptu offline meeting, or immediacy, is more achievable on dating apps. 4th, on numerous dating apps, users’ records could be associated with other social media marketing records ( e.g., Facebook and Instagram), offering a specific degree of authenticity. Finally, as a result of program designs of dating apps, which highlight users’ profile images, dating apps are far more aesthetically dominated than dating internet sites. Lutz and Ranzini (2017) point away similar dating application affordances, and additionally note the presence of links with other social media marketing records as further sourced elements of recognition.

These research reports have two primary restrictions. First, dating apps are merely in comparison to dating web sites, to not other news platforms. Within an environment of “polymedia” (Madianou, 2015) with numerous communicative possibilities provided by news technologies, individuals exploit the affordances of numerous various news platforms to control their social relationships. Scientists have actually noted that dating application users have a tendency to continue their discussion on other news platforms such as for example WhatsApp (MacKee, 2016; Ward, 2016). The way the differences in affordances subscribe to this platform needs that are switching be analyzed. In this extensive research, we place dating apps in a bigger image of polymedia, in which the richness of news platforms enables platform switching for the duration of relationship development. By maintaining an eye fixed on platform switching, we aim to comprehend just what dating apps can and should not manage for homosexual men’s relationship development.

Second, this approach that is comparative affordances happens to be mainly according to technical features and it has ignored the nuances in users’ subjective perceptions of technical utility. Since affordances are where both of these aspects intersect, scientists must also probe users’ perceptions of what they’re in a position to do with dating apps, along with the underlying norms and values that put up a selection of appropriate habits. These perceptions are inevitably connected to a negotiation associated with the relation between relationship development and casual intercourse. Within the next part, we therefore review appropriate studies to recapture the complexity in this settlement.