Sex & Dating | June 8, 2021 10:28 am

Tinder’s New “Block Contacts” Feature Is Obviously for Cheating

Tinder's new feature is great for avoiding exes. It's also great for hiding from your current partner.

Tinder logo displayed on a phone screen is seen in this illustration photo
Cheating on dating apps just got a lot easier.
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Back in the early days of dating apps, no one wanted to admit that they were on them. We’d hide the apps in folders inside of folders on our iPhones and craft elaborate stories about how we met this new guy we were talking to. Running into a friend, coworker or family member on a dating app, at least then, could be as much a relief as a nightmare. Someone knew your dirty secret, but at least you weren’t alone.

The early 2010s were a very different time, however, and the dating-app shame of that era has long since evaporated as online dating has increasingly taken over the dating landscape. But only now has Tinder taken it upon itself to release an update that would have felt like a godsend in 2014. The new “block contacts” feature, which Tinder announced last week, will allow users to block any of their contacts who may or may not have Tinder profiles of their own. This means users can now elect to preventatively hide their profiles from coworkers, friends or family members who may be on the app. It is also (as many have pointed out) a handy way of shielding oneself from the potential trauma of bumping into an ex in search of your replacement on the app.

Much of the coverage of this new feature has focused on its ex-avoiding potential, but it seems pretty obvious that it may also serve an arguably more nefarious purpose: hiding your illicit dalliances from prying eyes.

I was banned from Tinder years ago for violating the platform’s community guidelines by being too cool and hot, but back in my day, if you wanted to use a dating app to have affairs outside your relationship, you pretty much had to stick to platforms designed specifically for that purpose. Thanks to Tinder’s new block contacts feature, one of the biggest mainstream dating apps in the world has suddenly become much more infidelity-friendly turf now that cheaters or prospective cheaters can hide their profile from friends and acquaintances most likely to blow up their spot.

Of course, this still isn’t a fool-proof system for under-the-radar cheating. Even if you’ve meticulously blocked every friend and relative who could possibly recognize you as so-and-so’s scumbag boyfriend / husband / partner / whatever, you could still easily get caught by a friend or coworker or friend of a coworker whose number you don’t even have. It’s a small world, and it’s even smaller on the internet.

Regardless of the lingering risks, while many people will certainly be using Tinder’s new feature to avoid running into exes or having their profile mocked by coworkers in private Slack channel, I can promise you there will also be a lot more cheating going on as well.