Posted January 29, 2024

Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? Temple professor cautions against using LinkedIn

Temple University Associate Professor of Sociology Dustin Kidd discusses the emerging trend of LinkedIn as a dating app.

Dustin Kidd pictured.
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenburg
More and more, date seekers have started to use LinkedIn as a dating app, says Dustin Kidd, an associate professor of sociology in Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts.

Feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day? Looking for love in all the wrong places? Well, have you thought about LinkedIn? That seems to be the solution for a number of love-seekers these days. 

The rising phenomenon was first explored in the recent Business Insider piece, “The hottest new dating site: LinkedIn.” The story explored how anecdotally, more and more folks seem to be using the longtime business and employment-focused social media platform for personal and romantic means. 

The whole concept seems wild, but according to Dustin Kidd, an associate professor of sociology in Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts who was quoted in the Business Insider piece, it’s nothing new. 

“As my friend says, ‘Daters are gonna date,’ so they use any channel they can find to do just that,” said Kidd, who studies popular culture and social media and is the author of the books Pop Culture Freaks and Social Media Freaks.  

“If you go back to 2003, there was the website Friendster and then there was MySpace. Now, these websites are at least about friendship and not professional networking like LinkedIn, but they aren't dating sites. Yet, people still used them for that. Even before that, in the ’90s, was a site for reuniting with people from high school. It was not a dating site, but people were using it to rekindle things with old flames and so forth,” he said.  

The spread of online dating to LinkedIn maybe should not entirely come as a surprise, given its prevalence on other social media networking sites like Instagram and Facebook. It has been reported that some date-seekers prefer to use Instagram for dating rather than dating apps, and Facebook has added a free Facebook Dating service as part of its app. The health app, Strava, has also found itself to now be a place where more and more couples are connecting

But whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Strava or LinkedIn, there is one thing all four social networks have in common that make the apps all the more inviting when it comes to online dating: direct messages, also known as DMs. 

“These are all public social media networks, so let’s compare that to how this works when you’re in a public space. If you’re in an actual public square like a public park and want to have a private conversation, you pull someone to the side. And so pulling someone aside is essentially the same as going into someone’s DMs,” said Kidd, who also serves as the director of Temple’s general education program. “And so it’s the capacity to have a private conversation within this otherwise very public space that makes something like LinkedIn so appealing for online dating. It enables and almost invites it.” 

Kidd said that the other thing that makes LinkedIn such a natural fit for dating is that it allows users to easily find compatible partners. With just a quick search, they can find individuals who work in a related field, hold a similar job title or attended their alma mater. 

A widely held belief is that opposites attract, but the opposite is often true, too. That is where a social network like LinkedIn can be so helpful. 

“It makes a lot of sense that many people would do this. It also makes a lot of sense for some people not to want to do this because not everyone wants to be partnered with somebody in their field,” Kidd said. “But it just really depends on what your personality is. If you’re just completely in love with and devoted to your work, it can be really nice to unpack that work at the end of the day with somebody else who understands it. Where’s a better a place to find that type of person than LinkedIn?”