A word or 1000 about “market value,” because it is going to bear on
the rest of the discussion. If you aren't in the world of commitment, you are in the world of market value. Sorry to break it to you. Interestingly, formal polygamy does have aspects of commitment about it, sometimes strong and unbreakable. We tend not to see that, because the market value for women is so depressed in such societies. Yet it is there. In the informal polygamies of modern times there is no commitment. (Which is often the point.) However, the tradeoff for women is that their market value is enhanced, and depending on circumstances, can be higher than men's. If you know, even unconsciously, that your market value is such that you can opt out more easily than the other person, it will affect the demands you make in the relationship.
It just will. It's visible from the outside. And one of Wyman's laws is "Whoever controls a precious resource will eventually become a prick about it." That true in bureaucracies, and it's true about giving away ourselves. We have nicer names for what we are doing, about respecting ourselves or whatever. Those aren't untrue. But we don't like to look at how we are acting about our market value.
My second son, who describes well in dating app terms still found them very frustrating in the usual way. He would give out many swipe rights but receive fewer in return. My fifth son is going through this now. He should also do at least moderately well by basic description, though it’s an uphill climb. But both are funny, and this is an enormous part of their appeal, and that does not easily translate to these apps. It comes off as flat, stupid, artificial, forced – as is a problem with all internet communication, really. (Boy have I had that hit home in the last month. You think you are being clever or light, but it comes across as Not Funny, or very stern.) So with both of them, one of their best attributes was taken away from them by the medium, like a sports team having a key player declared ineligible. It’s hard to get across “No, really. I’m a funny guy. Everyone says so.” For females they get sort of whiplash of being thought very desirable because so many men are interested. That is not just a dating app phenomenon, it is probably general biology. Men find many more women attractive than vice versa. But the highest-status males (variously defined), those few who are sucking all the oxygen out of the room, are much less obtainable, and the women feel a pressure to be more sexual more quickly in order to compete at all. It’s like those checkboxes that HR departments have in order to simplify hiring. If you won’t have sex fast, there are other fish in the sea and you don’t even get to make an elevator pitch. This is on top of the worries about safety in meeting male strangers, which women are also trying to discern from very limited data.
The college sex ration has had a deleterious effect on women's mental health, however much it favors them academically. They are more insecure about body image, have more sexual encounters they later regret, show more depression and anxiety. It is not only in places like Sarah Lawrence, where women outnumber men 2/1, 3/1, 5/1, but any school with a typical 57-43 ratio. I have wondered why young men do not complain more about the systemic bias against them in college classrooms, but the fact that they have a much easier dating life may be a big part of that. At Vassar 2-3 girlfriends is normal and commitment is not expected. So “market value” is warped. Funnier, safer males are undervalued because on the internet, no one knows if you are a wolf.
More education has long been associated with greater marital stability, but that is no longer so. I was surprised at how much (where is that statistic? Darn) graduate school now actually has a destabilising effect on monogamy. It is no longer a place where couples seek to lock in the gains for their previous stable decisions, but a place of reshuffling the deck and finding new partners. I suspect that the increased percentage of...no it doesn't matter what I suspect. I'll have to think about this a lot first. It looks like it is increasing all of the following polygamies. And just in the nick of time comes some research showing that those who have graduate education are much less likely to think extramarital sex is wrong.
I am thinking of Camille Paglia's comments, and Jordan Peterson's - people who think about the perspective of the losers in these events. When we think of the changes and the problems they have created for many people seeking mates and affection, we tend to see those who have difficulties. People who have pains and obstacles. Those are important enough. But when we move off the strict monogamy level, to easier divorce and sex without marriage and People who would otherwise have been on the market are off, at the margins it means there are real losers, female and male. Those people want you successful ones to know what you have done to them. All those forces long predate dating apps, but the technology has intensified it. With considerable luck, I was one of the winners. I can easily envision scenarios where things went badly wrong (and nearly did). So have a thought of kindness for the many who are caught between forces.
So how does Tinder, which I use as a stand-in for all the dating apps collectively, affect Polygamies in general? And at the end of each discussion, what does that mean for polygamies in the most general sense? It is important because in polygamous societies violence goes up. It looks like corruption goes up. If Houellebecq and Nye are correct it looks like prosperity decreases. If any number of religious and even quite secular groups that look at social pathologies are correct - and they have numbers - the increase of any of these arrangements causes an erosion of the general trust in society, the security of children in society (looking at what is happening to their friends, remember?), the emotional security of either sex but especially women in worrying how replaceable they are. We are fond of saying our choices don't affect others, and there is a great deal of truth in that. But each concrete decision raises or lowers various cultural bars, and collectively they are huge.
These decisions also have a sizable indirect effect because they affect your tribe. Your decision to adhere to or discard the traditional rules may not affect the nation much in any way you can see, but it does affect your circle. It gives or withholds your implied approval or even permission. You may think that a good thing. You may want young men in the military to be influenced by your example. You might see yourself as groundbreaking for the women coming along after you in some decision. That's fine, but then you can't have the excuse that it isn't affecting other people. If I seem to be hitting this point hard the last month, it is because I am increasingly convinced that none of us makes our decisions anywhere near as rationally as we think we do. Our own needs and our social influences push us about as dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly. ("Pay attention when I'm talking to you young man!")
Every man who leaves his wife and finds another - or even if he simply goes out into the market without definite prospects and succeeds two years later, sends a signal to others how much this is possible. Or not. If the Tinder-dominated market makes him look more poisonous, even if it is not initially available information, other men and women both take note. There are still the non-dating-app cues as well. If a few women at a large workplace have unexpected difficulties in finding safe dates, that will be noted. The safety economy is worse now. The calculations of how much money is lost or how long it takes is not lost on your cousins and neighbors. And always the values. Independent women don't have to put up with that...She's not worth it, leave her. All this to say that it is not only your own business. You are free to decide it is of little importance to you. I don't have to pretend it's not true.
And finally. The dating apps now dominate the market so much that people do not even put much energy into other methods now. While your app profiles are broadcast to thousands and that feels not very private, your dating life is also much more contained there. No one at work needs to know. You brother doesn't need to know. You have more privacy in a large way. This is the new public/private contrast of the internet in general. Thus, even a slight effect from the app is likely to have a large overall effect on American mating patterns.
Formal polygamy. Dating apps might undermine this, as I said, as women find out that other women don't live this way and entertain the idea of going against family and ethnic wishes. I am not envisioning a scenario where Tinder helps polygamists.
Hypergamy. This will increase. Even though the technology only reports part of the information and skews the market, it gives market information that women can use. It is likely to increase attempts much more than successes, as using Tinder is a high-risk strategy, and one would have to signal pretty strongly that one stands out somehow. So some failures here also, often not clear until several dates in.
Mistress/Trophy wife - I think this would be a variation of the hypergamy equations
B. Modern version, of a woman with more leverage entering into unmarried long-term sexual relationships with a man. These were nearly unknown fifty years ago, are now becoming common for at least a few years duration at a time. The distinction between this and serial monogamy is hard to suss out. I think dating apps will ultimately increase these greatly, though they would not necessarily do so at first. I think there is an increased market for these and Tinder makes that market more efficient. Feminism has based its evaluation of relationships on relative power rather than commitment and has often done this explicitly. Mutuality is not forever absent, but you can't have two values both in first place. What men are doing seems to be downstream of that, derivative of women's decisions rather than driving their own. As little as I can sense, questions of power are less prominent for them. Status? Convenience? Emotional support? Dunno. If it was a desire to give or nurture they would tend to find someone who commits, I would think. YMMV.
Serial Monogamy. The increase in this long predates the apps. Children moving out of the house, whether to college or apartments were a big part of this. Reliable rather than intermittently effective birth control has been a big part of the change. (Married women who want to just generally reduce the number of children may not be too distressed by the timing of these not being as tight as they would prefer. Couples who feel they cannot in any way afford to have a pregnancy were more affected by 60s birth control.) The reduced importance of closed environments for young people predate the apps, but 1. fewer years each at places of employment, 2. fewer people getting married just after school (HS or college), 3. greater mobility away from stable neighborhoods, and 4. far fewer memberships in organisations that meet regularly (Bowling Alone) or churches reduced the usual dating markets down to going to bars. Has everyone forgotten the cliches about how everyone "hated the bar scene?" The apps consolidated all those bars into your phone. If the Tinder values are approximately what the bar values are, well what did we expect? Reduced belief that religious values have much bearing on the subject of divorce, remarriage, sexual activity, etc took a while to change this, but it is quite complete in some circles now. It is other online info, such as cultural news and group identification that has had more effect. If your aspirational group says this is okay, you'll think it's okay too. I've discussed this a lot lately. Nonetheless, this is a large group of people and apps provide an enormous market efficiency for them. this will increase.
Multiple sexual partnerships as a lifestyle. These will increase most of all, for obvious reasons.
All told, Dating apps will greatly increase the amount of informal polygamy and reward the bar scene type winners even more. This will result in ever-fewer prizes for both sexes - fewer safe, honest men willing to commit to a relationship, and fewer women to even attempt a relationship with for men who do not describe well on apps -----and more risk, as men with have to stand out in other ways which include violence and dangerous behavior, while women have to engage in sex with less information and guarantee. I will stress that this is the average, and all sorts of exceptions will occur. If anyone finds evidence of distinct groups and strategies on apps I would be interested. there may by niches that work and others that are even more hopeless than average.