“Mr Right Now”: Temporality of relationship formation on gay mobile dating apps

Tien Ee Dominic Yeo*, Tsz Hin Fung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


Mobile dating apps with geolocation function have gained popularity for fostering social, romantic, and sexual connections between nearby strangers. Through in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions with 74 users of gay mobile dating apps (Grindr and Jack’d) in Hong Kong, this study illustrates how the sociological concept of time can shed light on users’ experience of relationship formation through these apps. Specifically, the accelerated tempo of interactions facilitated by perpetual connectivity, mutual proximity awareness, and instant messaging was seen to entail instantaneous and ephemeral relationships. The interface design, which foregrounds profile photos and backgrounds textual self-descriptions, was perceived to structure the sequence of browsing and screening in favor of physical appearance and users seeking casual hook-ups. The findings suggest that the temporality of browsing and exchange on apps is incongruous with the temporal norms prescribing formation of friendship and long-term romance. Such incongruity affects the perceived quality and satisfaction of app use, frustrating users who seek more durable relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalMobile Media and Communication
Issue number1
Early online date2 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Networks and Communications

User-Defined Keywords

  • gay men
  • Grindr
  • Jack’d
  • mobile apps
  • online dating
  • social media
  • time


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