Spotted, Share the Love: How Online Dating App Affects on German Romantic Interpersonal Relationship

An essay by Wipawee Tantaphakul


The broad definition of courtship or dating is the beginning stage of romantically relationship, where two people interact in order to get to know each other. However, the commitment does not always guarantee a marriage as a result. The social phenomenon of courtship has been existed since the ancient age and it is gradually altered according to the evolution of culture. Since the invitation of Internet, the tradition of courtship has dramatically changed. People are exposed to so-called ‘online dating’. The virtual world can become a reality, in which the new formation of the social structure and sphere become within the new concept of space and time. By changing the dating pattern, human behavior is changed as well.

This paper aims to highlight the effects of online dating platform, called Spotted, towards the tradition of courtship within German dating culture. Additionally, another purpose is to discover the usage of the app whether it is for creating long-term relationship, or casual relationship. First chapter is an introduction of Spotted with brief history of the app and its features. The app features interestingly shows the distinguish functions and reflection of German culture, which also is not exist in another app. Due to the app created in German setting, the next chapter will discuss about the German dating culture, which will be analyzed through the concept of personal space in Germany compared to other countries. This chapter also includes some excerpts from the interview with some participants to achieve more understanding on German courtship. Third chapter will underline the reason of using online dating, and the change of interpersonal interaction in romantic relationship due to online dating in German culture. Last, conclusion contains the summary of this paper.

The research methodology of this paper consists of comparative literature review with other online dating platforms to find the different features and function of the apps, and interview with the app’s users to discover the reality of German dating culture, and their usage of the app.

Spotted, Share the Love

“The best way to approach your missed connections! Spotted helps you to get in touch with your crush and people you’ve crossed paths with!” – Spotted

In January 2013, Nik Myftari and four colleagues founded an online dating platform and mobile application, called Bibflirt ( in Heidelberg. The concept of Bibflirt originally rooted from the missing opportunities in real life. Bib is shortened from Bibliothek (library in German), which refers to the major influence in university taking part in students’ life. The main function of the platform is to discover a person, whom you might sit next to in the library, in the cafeteria, or whom you might see in a short period of time, that you missed the chance to talk to them. The platform had become popular among students and spread throughout many universities in Germany. Due to its popularity, Bibflirt was merged with Spotted ( in March 2014 and since then, it has started to operate under their new name, Spotted. It is a location-based real time dating (LBRTD) app, which uses to locate nearby online users interesting in chatting, or meeting. Now, the online dating platform acquires the gross value of 14.5 million USD and there are approximately 10 million users (Spotted, 2015). Spotted has gained its popularity among young adults mainly in college and university due to its marketing strategies in student’s parties. The app has three main functions including:

  • Déjà-vu

It contains the description of people that crossed your path. When a user goes to a certain place, this application will show other users that are in the same area. If a user is interested in someone in the application, s/he can send him or her a message or a wink to catch his or her attention.

  • Love notes

A user can write and describe the person that s/he has met and missed a chance to talk to. In order to use this feature effectively, a user has to edit their physical information, such as hair, eye color, and height. When the information matches with a person’s appearance, it will show on the Love Note section with the matching percentage.

  • Message

In this section, a user can send a private message to other users that s/he is interested in.

The app contains general information in the users’ profile including photos, name, place of living, gender, sexual preference, height, eye color, hair color, tattoo, piercing, and short self-introduction. The app itself is developed be using physical appearance to categorize people in order to match people with posted Love Notes. Another function of Love Notes is that other users can rate the Love Notes by giving score to express their liking after reading them.

Users have utilized this section in a various way. First, the major tool used in the section is to search for a person. People usually describe what the person looks like, and where they met. Second, the section is used giving self-summaries of users and states their purpose, which mostly is to find a person to romantically hang out with. Last, the section becomes the space, where people publish their events, such as house parties, or student parties and invite other people in the app.

Déjà-vu operates similarly to other well-known online dating app, such as Tinder, Ok-Cupid, or Grindr. It is a location-based real time dating (LBRTD) app to spot other people in the same time and area. However, the function itself does not contain as many as other nearby users compared to other LBRTD apps because the major purpose is to search for a person that a user met before and want to find. Usually, LBRTD function is to locate nearby strangers and after interacting with each other, users may agree on meeting for a date, or sexual purpose.

People normally use online dating platforms into various purposes including looking for a soul mate, looking for sex, looking for friends, or looking for fun. Online dating platform become a new tool for younger generation to meet new people. According to the interview, participants mention the lack of time to meet other people outside their social group of friends. First reason that they choose to use online dating app is that it is convenient and applicable. As mentioned, Spotted is popular among young adults. As people are busy with their daily life, getting to know other people becomes a harder task. Participant agreed on the convenience of online dating app because the app exists on the mobile phone, which people carry around with them all the time. Secondly, it is another channel to get to know another people outside their circle group of friends. Therefore online dating platform provides people to be able to excess to another bigger dating pool with no limitation.

Despite the interesting features of the app, there are a few major flaws. It cannot be applied with all nationality and all sexual preferences. In previous year, the app does not contain the physical preference for Asian, such as black hair, or black eyes. For the sexual preferences, compared to other online dating apps, Spotted cannot fully provide its service for LGBT people. It only focuses on straight people. Now it gradually develops and adapts for every users to be able to access. Users can insert black hair into their profile and also can choose their sexual preference in both sexes. However, a LGBT participant rather chooses another online dating app than Spotted.

German Dating Culture

As the app is developed in Germany, it shows interesting features distinguish from other online dating apps. For example, the section of Love Notes is the concept of creating a second chance with a potential lover. This section is not appear in any online dating app and by looking into German culture, where the app is created, it will assist to understand more in the cultural factor of the app. This chapter discusses about the German dating culture, which is the main setting of the research. To address the matter, first we will focus on both verbal and nonverbal communication in German style, where we highlight on a concept of comparative interaction between German and American, and personal space.

Verbal Communication

Discussing about German dating culture, people usually think of a German song called Aurelie by Wir sind Helden. Aurelie is a French girl in Germany, where building a romantic relationship is different than France. The lyrics contain a major factor to build love in Germany. It mentions that relationship was expected to take an effort and time to be accomplished. According to the level of interaction between Germans mentioned above, it takes quite a period of time for people to become a close friend with Germans. There is another well-known comparison of relationship between Germans and Americans, which is called coconut and peach (Yamashita & Schwartz, 2012). Germans are referred to coconut, which defines that the fruit is difficult to crack, but when people are be able to do it, the result is invaluable. It usually takes time to get to know German deeply. However, when people become a closest friend with a German, they will have a strong relationship bonding. It is different from Americans, who are implied as peach. It is a fruit that is soft from the outside but there is a seed inside the fruit. This means that Americans tend to reveal their private information easily. It appears that they are easy to make friend with but actually, the friendship is not deep and does not last long. According to Kurt Lewin (1936), people have three different circular layers around their body, which are unconscious, personal, and public circles. Unconscious and personal circles are two inner circles, where people that are family members, and closest friends can invade. Germans usually interact with people that they first meet within public circle. They do not reveal their private information. Compared to Germans, Americans interact in an extroverted style. They quickly share intimate information to someone that they just meet. Additionally, Language is another strong evidence of German communication style. In German, there are two types of you, which are du and Sie, whereas in English, there is only you. This also shows the level of intimate interaction between people. Germans use du within a group of friends, and family members. They use Sie with people that they do not know really well.

Personal Space

Most of Germans meet their partner through a circle of friends, and workplace, which indicates that they mostly build their intimacy within a group of acquaintances, not complete strangers. Only a few percentages of German couples met each other as strangers. Male participant mentioned that it is hard to start conversation with a girl in public places. He concluded that there is a high possibility that he will get rejected and he will feel embarrassed. According to an observation in public places, men do not usually approach women randomly. In clubbing scene, while dancing, women do not get touched unwillingly. Men usually dance around women that they interest in, without getting too close to invade their personal space or make them feel uncomfortable. Men just stand around and wait to be seen. Germans respect other people’s value of personal space. According to Edward Hall (1959), the definition of personal space is an invisible three-dimensional zone surrounding a person. It can be implied as a bubble around a person. People usually acknowledge their personal space by the feeling of comfortableness or irritation when another person evades their space. Personal space is different depended upon one’s culture. It also can be perceived variously in different setting, such as in a small space. This concept of distance between people shows the interpersonal relationship based on their level of intimacy (Freedman, 1975). People from Northern Europe have larger personal space compared to people from Southern Europe. For example, compared to Italians, Germans interact more distant to each other (Shuter, 1977).

How Online Dating Changes Interpersonal Relationship

In the past, where there is no media, time and space still connected together. Since the beginning of the modern period, media started to invade the concept of time and space and now in the post-modern era, media such as the Internet, and mobile communication creates and reshapes the new boundaries of time and space. Courtship has been affected as well, even though the idea of meeting a potential romantic partner through an advertisement is not something new. This concept has already emerged before with the dating advertisement on newspapers and magazines.

According to the former period, people usually met their lovers through school, workplace, or a café, in which they all interact with each other face-to-face. Now, online dating has affected the tradition of courtship. Without the limitation of time and space, people do not have to be in the same period of time and space. There are options, such as text message, chat room, social media, or video calling to communicate with other people. The Internet has changed the way of interacting among people, especially within intimate relationship. Online dating becomes an ice-breaking tool to start interaction with strangers, which rarely happens in the reality. It is beneficial for people that are too shy to date as well (Whitty, 2008). It can reach to people, who never have met one another before and it can abolish the awkwardness of the first conversation by sending a text message. The Internet is a place, in which people can conceal their real identity. Interacting anonymously, people can act more undependable than in real life. Anonymity provides control. Online dating users are able to manage their setting in virtual world. Engaging in online interaction, people have more control over their communication, which is different from face-to-face communication. Face-to-face interaction requires immediate response but in online communication, people do not expect their response right away. People can take time and reconsider whether to write to someone. They also can decide what to write without being pressured to reply at the moment. It can be applied to the situation of rejection as well. Rejection in online dating is not hurtful compared with in-person conversation because mobile or computer screen is a protection of direct rejection. In addition, according to Zick Rubin (1975), the phenomenon of online dating is similar to the strangers on a train phenomenon, which is the situation people sharing their most intimate details of their lives that none of their closest friends knows with a stranger person sitting next to us. So, it is possible to develop strong feeling and close relationship with an anonymous person on the Internet (Parks & Floyd, 1995). Anonymity on the Internet provides people a space to engage deeply such as disclosing personal information to others people that they may not encounter in real life. Also, it creates a community, such as LGBT community, where people feel to express themselves freely and state their desires (Dew & Chaney, 2005).

However, online dating alters the tradition of offline relationship (Wysocki & Childers, 2011). It is undeniable that online dating is convenient, and accessible. According to Danielle Couch and Pranee Liamputtong (2008), online dating provides more possible choices of mates unlike before. It creates sexual liberation as well. Participants revealed that the online dating app is a gate to meet strangers. They can chat, meet up, spend a night together, and part away without any consequences due to their anonymous status. Spotted is used to find both short-term, and long-term relationship, which depend on the compatibility of a couple. One participant found his current girlfriend, whom he has been dating for almost half a year, on Spotted. He also admitted that he used the app for a casual relationship before. Unlike Spotted, participants agreed on that Tinder’s purpose is usually for one-night stand.


Spotted is online dating app that introduces users to other users. It is different from another online dating platforms and it has interesting features reflecting German culture. Main purpose of Spotted is to search a person that users missed a chance to interact with because it is appropriate to approach a stranger in public, or the person, who users keeps signaling an interest to, does not acknowledge them. The app somehow fulfills suitably for German dating environment. Online dating platforms provide users a bigger dating pool especially with the location-based real time dating (LBRTD) app. The app becomes a tool to ice break and start conversation with strangers changing the pattern of dating and making it easier.


Couch, D., and P. Liamputtong. “Online Dating and Mating: The Use of the Internet to Meet Sexual Partners.” Qualitative Health Research 18, no. 2
(2008): 268-79.
Dew, Brian J., and Michael P. Chaney. “The Relationship Among Sexual Compulsivity, Internalized Homophobia, and HIV At-Risk Sexual Behavior in Gay and Bisexual Male Users of Internet Chat Rooms.” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 12, no. 4 (2005): 259-73.
Freedman, Jonathan L. Crowding and Behavior. New York: Viking Press, 1975.
Hall, Edward T. The Silent Language. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959.
Lewin, Kurt. “Some Social-Psychological Differences Between The United States And Germany.” J Personality Journal of Personality 4, no. 4
(1936): 265-93.
Parks, Malcolm R., and Kory Floyd. “Making Friends in Cyberspace.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 1, no. 4 (2006): 0.
Rubin, Zick. “Disclosing Oneself to a Stranger: Reciprocity and Its Limits.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 11, no. 3 (1975): 233-60.
Scharlott, Bradford W., and William G. Christ. “Overcoming Relationship-initiation Barriers: The Impact of a Computer-dating System on Sex Role, Shyness, and Appearance Inhibitions.” Computers in Human Behavior 11, no. 2 (1995): 191-204.
Shuter, Robert. “A Field Study of Nonverbal Communication in Germany, Italy, and the United States.” Communication Monographs 44, no. 4 (1977):
Whitty, Monica T. “Revealing the ‘real’ Me, Searching for the ‘actual’ You: Presentations of Self on an Internet Dating Site.” Computers in Human
Behavior 24, no. 4 (2008): 1707-723.
Wysocki, Diane Kholos, and Cheryl D. Childers. ““Let My Fingers Do the Talking”: Sexting and Infidelity in Cyberspace.” Sexuality & Culture 15, no. 3
(2011): 217-39.
Yamashita, Miki, and Harriet L. Schwartz. “The Coconut and the Peach: Understanding, Establishing, and Maintaining Interpersonal Boundaries with
International Students.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 2012, no. 131 (2012): 57-69.