The couples who found love on an app destined for casual hook-ups

Ara Mamourian and Carla Catherwood welcomed baby Ava in 2016. Ara Mamourian

Ara Mamourian never thought the swipe of his finger would lead to the two loves of his life.

The 38-year-old Toronto broker first came across his current partner Carla Catherwood, 36, in August 2015 on Tinder — one of the world’s most popular dating apps often described as a quick way to hook-up.

“I had recently been divorced and thought it would be a good way to meet people since I have a pretty busy work life,” he tells Global News.

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“I’ve known people who’ve used it for simply hooking up and others who’ve found long lasting relationships. Although I must admit I assumed it was more for hooking up than anything else at the very beginning, [I] soon realized that it was much deeper than that.”
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Online dating is new norm

It’s no surprise more and more people are using online dating apps to find love — and everything else in between. One survey from eHarmony found 36 per cent of Canadians were dating online and 20 per cent of committed relationships began online. People are even using dating apps to make friends.

But in a dating world with countless apps and thousands of reasons to swipe, Tinder is often dubbed as the hook-up site, a place where you only go to find casual sex within a few kms of your location.

But one recent unscientific survey from the app found quite the opposite, the New York Times reports.

WATCH: Tinder self esteem
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Tinder self esteem

According to two surveys by Tinder looking at offline daters (people who never used online dating), the report found Tinder users were more likely to look for committed relationships compared to offline daters.

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They were also five per cent more likely to say, “I love you,” to their partners in the first year of being together.

But there is also is a stigma attached, some say, looking for relationships online. Most people don’t want to associate their love life with an app that wasn’t meant for love.

From swiping to a baby

Mamourian was married for nine years and after his divorce, he knew he wanted to meet someone with similar goals and aspirations in life. He also wanted to be a father.

“I just wanted someone who could challenge me and whom I could challenge so we could grow together. Most importantly, I wanted someone who stood for something,” he says.

That’s when he came across a picture of Catherwood, posing in a white dress on a white chair. He swiped right as fast as he could.

Ara Mamourian (right) says Tinder is the best way to meet people. Ara Mamourian

The two exchanged numbers and went on their first date at a rooftop patio on Queen Street in Toronto. She had brought a friend to the date (as a bodyguard, he jokes), but Mamourian says they had great conversation.

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“Since our first date that day we haven’t let go of each other,” he says.

Six weeks later, the couple found out Catherwood was pregnant.

Ara (left) poses with his partner Carla and their two dogs. Ara says Tinder is not just for hooking up. Ara Mamourian

“I assessed my life, she assessed hers. We didn’t hate each other so we rolled with it. I can’t imagine my life without Ava now. She’s the best baby in the entire world.”

The two bought a cottage, recently purchased an apartment and plan on getting married soon.

Trends in online dating

Waterloo, Ont., dating coach Chantal Heide says it’s no surprise people are finding love on Tinder.

People go on it to alleviate stress from sexual build up or blow off steam after a break up, or even just to alleviate a feeling of loneliness, and end up finding compatible partners and beginning long-term relationships,” she says. “Love knows no boundaries, apparently.”

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Working with her clients, Heide says she is also seeing some trends in online dating. A majority of people, she says, are still relying on apps for casual attention, sexual text exchanges and sex with no strings attached.

Others are also putting a lot of time and effort into dating without positive results.

“I’d say the biggest one is the huge number of fake profiles put up by people with no intention of having a real relationship, and it takes a fair amount of due diligence to find something that’s actually sincere.”

The early days of online dating

Tinder first launched in 2012 and by 2014, had more than a billion swipes daily, the New York Times reports.

Misha D’Souza first downloaded the app on July 17, 2013. She met her now-fiancé Karan Girgla nine days later.

“Tinder was still fairly new when I joined so not as many people knew about it,” she tells Global News.

Misha D’Souza and Karan Girgla first came across each other in 2013. Misha D'Souza
“Downloading it happened by chance. I was at a Justin Timberlake concert and to pass the time, [my friend] told me about Tinder and I downloaded it.”
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Although they began talking that summer, the 26-year-old didn’t go on her first date until October that year.

“As cliché as it sounds, it was love at first sight,” she says. “Initially over our text conversations he was very nice, so I friend-zoned him, but that very quickly escalated after our first date. He was really good looking, polite, charming, and well-spoken.”

The two became an official couple in November and in August 2016, two days before her birthday, Girgla surprised her with an engagement ring.

The two plan on getting married in June 2018. Misha D'Souza

“My birthday ended up being an epic fail because I planned my party on a patio and it poured. Eventually after the party, the two of us ended up on the Thompson rooftop where he proposed, in the rain, with the Toronto skyline view. It was so surreal.”

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And when she tells people they met on Tinder, they are usually shocked.

“[People say], ‘You don’t strike me as the Tinder type’ or ‘everyone seems to just be looking for a hook-up.'”

How to make relationships work

Heide says that while there are no perfect rules to online dating, there are ways to make sure you’re talking to like-minded individuals.

“Respond to people who make it obvious they’ve read your profile by referring to something that resonated with them. Anyone too lazy to read your profile really isn’t interested in who you are, which in itself is a red flag.”

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She says you also shouldn’t make a list of requirements on your profile either. And if you do click with somebody, don’t rely on getting to know them over text messaging.

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“There’s no point spending months texting and e-mailing only to find out they’re physically not the person they said they were, or they’re not as nice as they seemed. And if they’re too busy to meet, then they’re also saying they’re too busy for a relationship.”

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