What are the challenges of using Tinder and Tappy, apps that make finding a date -- theoretically -- as friction-free as ordering an appliance on Amazon Prime?

Relationship expert Esther Perel ("Mating in Captivity: Learning Erotic Intelligence," Harper Perennial, 2007) has  had a lot to say about how monogamous couples need to inject some mystery into their relationships to counter the over-familiarity of domesticity. And people paid attention -- over 5 million watched her TED talk, "The secret to desire in long-term relationships." But what about using dating apps that offer maximum mystery in the form of a series of pictures and a profile that consists of a few lines – but not much security or comfort?  

Perel sat down with International Business Times to talk about romance, technology and Tinder. “People don’t stop reaching out to people they haven’t met," Perel said, citing the personals sections from pre-Internet days. "What has shifted -- and technology is a piece of it -- is relationships in the age of consumption.”

International Business Times:  Has technology made it harder for people to connect or maintain relationships? There are so many different ways to connect, from OK Cupid to Tinder and Tappy.

Esther Perel: What’s the social role of technology?  It’s helping people to connect in the most beautiful ways, and in some crude ways. It’s always both. People used to be introduced by others in the neighborhood. People used to be introduced by matchmakers. People have always been helped in the process of meeting people. But the central square of the village has gone online. The digital space becomes the central square.

People can often meet strangers. And they can go back and meet people they’ve lost touch with. Which is the opposite of the ephemerality of Tappy, and Tinder and all of that. For a long time, if you lost touch with someone, they became a memory. Now you can go and confirm, reignite your memory. I mean, some of these things are existentially unique.

In terms of dating sites, I do think what has shifted, and technology is a piece of it, is relationships in the age of consumption. There’s a consumer model to relationships, with a commodification of people. So that, I shop. I’m constantly having to trust. The issue of all these sites, it’s a manipulation of our trust. How do I know? Who is this? On what basis am I judging?

IBTimes:  You talk a lot about how couples can maintain desire by finding the right balance between familiarity and mystery. It seems that dating apps like Tinder and Tappy provide that mystery -- but little trust or safety. What's the effect?

Perel:  It’s [safety] totally missing. And I think that people often underestimate how wearying it is. It used to be that we thought that meeting someone was a process of expansion. Now we are rather obsessed with the fear of losing ourselves. We are obsessed with the need to be recognized for who we are and everything we’ve put in to developing this precious thing called our identity. But we are also obsessed that a relationship is a loss of self.

I think more than technology, it’s a confluence of things. It’s individualism that is shaping our relationships today. And how we negotiate separateness and togetherness. It’s what every relationship negotiates. And how we negotiate the willingness to surrender certain parts of ourself for relationships. We come from a model where people once sacrificed their individuality for the collective and today we’re in a model of self-fulfillments where people believe they deserve happiness and they’re not going to sacrifice much for the relationship. As a result the seriality has amplified, it’s one after the other. We’ve been in serial monogamy for a while, but the speed at this point, that is really it’s intense. We’re in it.

What’s the price you pay, the effect? I don’t think there is a woman who wants to go back to the past, but that doesn’t mean that the present is free of charge.

IBTimes  In terms of dating challenges, are you seeing generational issues in your practice as a therapist?

Perel: All the time. I’ve done a lot with millennials in the last two years. “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and the paradox of choice is what they’re grappling with.

I absolutely think the paradox of choice is crippling. We need to choose. It frees us up. But if we have too many, we start to doubt ourselves all the time. Is this the right person? Is this the best I’m going to get? What about the others I’m giving up? It’s relentless. The “fear of missing out” is a real millennial concept.

It’s not about trusting the other person. It’s about trusting myself. My own choice. The  economy of service is trusting the service I’m hiring. But now, I’m into self-doubt. How do I know this is the person I want to be with? Then there’s the romantic ideal… People date and partner with the notion that it’s not necessarily forever. It’s for as long as it’s good. People don’t split because they’re unhappy; they split because they could be happier.

IBTimes:  This seems cultural and generational…

Perel:  Yes, and western. The generation of millennials were raised by a group of parents who wanted to make sure their kids always feel good about themselves. It’s the self-esteem generation. Who never feel too much frustration. As a result, they’ve created a very aspirational but not very resilient generation.

They’re more fragile. They’ve been overprotected. Everybody knows it. These overprotected millennials who don’t experience frustration [also] don’t experience desire. You can only cultivate one thing from not having it…They’re also children of divorced and disillusioned. They want committed relationships, but not at the price of self-fulfillment.

Many of the men are way more emotionally literate than their [baby] boomer counterparts. Many of them were raised by single women who wanted to have a conversation with their boys in the evening at the dinner table. They would ask them, how are you doing, how are you feeling? And they taught them to ask how are you feeling.  There’s an emotional literacy and openness, and willingness to put stuff out on the table, combined with the age of transparency and  technology by which people undress in front of everyone. Which makes this group of men a lot more open. Without the shame and without the hiddenness of the boomer and older generation.

IBTimes: What about Generation X?

Perel:  I think there are 40-year-olds that feel closer to boomers, others to millennials. I can’t define that generation concretely. When I define boomer, according to my topic, it’s clear: With the [contraceptive] pill, before AIDS. No job anxiety.

Regarding Tinder and Tappy: They’re forms of speed dating. All the anxieties about meeting someone, eliciting their interest in you, facing rejection, your claiming your interest in them, about having to be patient, about having to pace -- which is the central element in the seduction plot -- are curtailed.

There’s a reason "50 Shades of Grey” is being read by millions. There’s something in that pacing that’s linked to seduction and the increase in desire. We have a lot of arousal, but not a lot of desire. What keeps the arousal going over time is our capacity to cultivate desire. Otherwise, you need new things for arousal. Arousal is not desire. In apps, you don’t have time to cultivate desire. The gratification is right there. It numbs it.

IBT: And what about Tinder and Tappy’s emphasis on the image? Is that a problem, compared to online dating like OK Cupid?

Perel: The writing element of online dating allowed gender to be shaken up. Men had to write, to speak as well as women. The image wasn’t dominant. You could override maybe, the limitations of your look. By charm, with the exquisiteness of your verb. There were liberating factors in online dating. Especially if I can write before I’ve seen you, if I can charm you. It’s Cyrano de Bergerac. I could seduce you by how I write to you.

Writing in online dating reignited the epistolary exchange and gave it the power it had in the 18th century, the time of the romantics. Wit, humor, clever twists of phrases. “I like the way you wrote your profile…”

But  people lie about pictures all the time. You can’t lie about words. If I’ve written to you a certain way, when you meet me, I’ll be talking the same way. With pictures, I can find pictures of me from 10 years ago.

The interesting thing for me about a lot of these apps, beginning with Tinder, is that you no longer have to worry if someone else is interested in you. Neither do you have to figure it out. There’s no doubt. There’s only going to be a response if both people chosen each other. That does away with the entire arc of seduction.

IBTimes:  Is there anything redeemable about these dating apps?

Perel:  It’s a statement about our need to connect. In whatever way possible. We are wired to connect. The ingenuity  with which we’re looking for more and more ways. In an age where people do often feel majorly isolated. The amount of ideas on how to create community, come together, here I must praise millennials. It’s spectacular. This is not a generation living along in the suburbs and hoping TV will bring the world into their house. But it is creating emptiness. You start feeling empty. You want someone who calls you, remembers you, texts you. There’s a level of anonymity.

IBTimes: I have a friend who tells me that her experience with men on Tinder is that they're either wanting immediate sex, or they become texting buddies, keeping in touch, without having even met. What is happening in these extremes -- either the demand for sex, or pretending they're in a relationship and texting about the weather?

Perel: Men are trapped in pretending they only want sex. Women are trapped in pretending men only want sex. I think we could do a good amount of gender de-stereotyping that could help us a great deal. Also, there's an element of not knowing how to be alone, or self-soothe. So they say, "Who was that chick? I'll text her."

These apps start to wear on you. There’s something cold. We need to feel that we matter. That we’re indispensable, unique. And if you can be deleted or unfriended so quickly, you start to wonder.

Another thing I think we should think about. It's described as rejection-free, in the sense that you’re not going to pursue someone who doesn't want you. The question is, why is that so important? Why do we want a generation that doesn’t want to deal with frustration, doesn’t want to deal with rejection? What are we trying to create here? It's a response to the burdens of selfhood, of having to decide everything. “Everything is so on me. I want a break. I don’t want another thing I have to manage on my own.”

IBTimes: Any final thoughts?

Perel: It’s not a surprise that apps like Tinder are emerging during a period when everyone’s doing emotional literacy training, emotional intelligence training. From corporate, to classroom. I just write an email, I delete you, I don’t have to have a conversation I don’t want to be with you, I’m not interested with you.

Over time, if you don’t practice all these interpersonal sessions, you lose an emotional literacy and empathy, if you don’t have to see the pain of the other. If you delete them, and don’t know what happened to them, the amount of time people are spending training, and what we’re talking about right here, these things are connected. They’re quite connected. People don’t see that the stuff relates.

One place is trying to bypass it. In other contexts, these kids/adults are missing a dimension. You’ve just helped them not to develop it.