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Dating apps have become extremely popular among many young adults, especially post-pandemic when physical interaction with humans was not easy.
With dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Gleeden and QuackQuack, the breadth of the proverbial playing field has taken on new dimensions in cyberspace. These platforms are exponentially expanding the potential for both connections and rejections, with the latter negatively impacting self-esteem and increasing anxiety. Making sure that you are aware of the potential pitfalls of dating apps — and are in the right mental space to start swiping — can help ensure that looking for love isn’t also taking a toll on your mental health.
Moreover, ones fast-paced lives too restrict meeting new people for many. In such situations, people turn to dating apps with the hope of finding a romantic partner whether that is for long-term relationship, a casual date or even hookups.
Since so many people on the app could have different expectations, it often becomes difficult to maintain a healthy boundary for yourself.
Sybil Shiddell, Country Manager India for Gleeden, says, “the foundation of dating apps is putting the real you out there for people to choose and that itself can lead to some psychological disorders. Swiping right and left almost becomes like a game and people get addicted to getting the validation of being swiped on. This is unintentional but has a lasting effect as people tend to become more vulnerable and anxious. Moreover, concepts like ghosting just make this even worse. Each of these somehow leads to people becoming more conscious of themselves.”
Dating apps have widened the playing field, dramatically boosting the prospect of more connections and rejections, too, the latter often negatively influencing people’s mental health. As per the survey of QuackQuack, a dating app, 41% of people who don’t get a match within the first week of joining the app often feel dejected.
Around 34% of daters over 30 years have disclosed feeling anxious and distressed. It usually stems from the pressure of either responding to every match or trying too hard to find one. It makes you wonder if the fault lies on dating apps’ part or the societal pressure to find the one or settle down after a certain age. With some preconceptions so deeply engrained in our system, more than 29% users have expressed having an intense fear of rejection while looking for matches.
QuackQuack further stated that the biggest problem lies in the inability of people to talk freely about mental health issues or acknowledge the same. Users revealed that they found comfort in close friends, about 34% from tier 2 cities could never address their problems owing to the taboo around mental health.
Here are 3 common ways dating apps negatively impact mental health:
1. Cause Stress & Anxiety
Sometimes less is more when it comes to dating. With apps, you’re given a wide pool of potential candidates that may end up overwhelming rather than intriguing you. You may feel pressure to respond to every match or visit the site every single day. It’s reported that dating app users face three times the amount of stress compared to non-users.
2. Poor Body Image
Online dating is often associated with poor body image and body dysmorphia. Without that personal connection during a first impression, many view dating apps as putting your best face forward and believe matches are only made based upon physical attraction. This leads to self-judgement and comparison to others. A 2016 study found that Tinder users reported lower levels of self-esteem, especially focused on dissatisfaction with their physical looks and shame towards their body image.
3. Lower Self-Esteem
In essence, any dating app is bound to set you up for rejection. It’s not possible to match with every single user. While rejection has always occurred, the world wide web allows for much more volume of potential dismissals and even created phenomena like “ghosting”. Some users may engage in destructive thoughts and take each non-match very personally.
As people spend more and more time online looking for love, they also become more likely to experience depression and anxiety. For dating apps in particular, the simple fact that you are evaluating other people’s profiles can impact self-esteem and confidence, and make users feel objectified. In one study, users of a dating app reported that they were less satisfied with their looks and body type than non-users, seemingly internalizing what they perceived to be evaluations of themselves.
Numerous studies have linked lengthy periods of internet use, including time spent on dating apps, to negative mental health outcomes. Positively engaging with the world outside of your phone is critical in balancing your outlook and your sense of self.