Self-Sabotage & Unrealistic Expectations: Hard Truths Of Dating Apps – Awkwardness, Fatigue, Misrepresentation, Safety and What To Expect From Online Dating

Online dating is everywhere. In the age of Covid-19, you can’t avoid the topic. Everyone is on a dating app, if not, they are lying. People who made fun of dating apps and swore they would never use them are now addicted. Just because everyone is dipping their toes into the online dating world doesn’t mean everyone knows what they are doing, is having fun or doesn’t regret creating a profile.

Dating apps are a great way to meet people outside one’s social circle. Given busy schedules, inability to leave the house, concern with hopping in a cab or on public transportation, people are relying on apps like Bumble, Hinge and Tinder to meet someone. But this is where it gets tricky as ‘looking to meet someone’ means different things for different people.

Before you commit too much time and effort to dating apps, it’s important to have a solid grasp of dating apps, understand what they can/can’t do, realize what it takes to succeed and be aware of all the ways you can potentially sabotage your dating profile.


People don’t always tell the truth on their dating profile.

Some people lie about age or height. Others misrepresent how much they like hiking. A few lie about being single or in the process of getting a divorce, separation. There is a reasonable expect even the slightest exaggeration on dating apps.

Google kittenfishing. Lying about small things can sow doubt into the minds of others about other things about your profile, character and personality.

Most people self-sabotage their dating efforts.

Whether it’s choosing the wrong app, using unflattering photos, having low energy, displaying low-effort, sounding generic or cliche or using poor grammar and pickup lines, most people never get a chance to make a good first impression. Most people lack the ability to be objective and free from bias – friends are not necessarily better.

When in doubt, get independent advice from trusted sources.

Depression, anxiety and loneliness can be magnified through dating apps.

It’s true, dating apps can leave you worse off than before the app download. People should join dating apps to meet others with the intention of opening up their lives, being a bit vulnerable and possibly going on a date with other person.

Downloading an app to find someone to lift you up is the wrong reason to join apps. It’s a selfish reason to expect others to be your therapist, friend, partner, etc. right off the app.

Dating apps are not better or necessarily faster than meeting others offline.

Online dating is merely another channel to meet others outside your daily routing and life. Sure one can meet a cute girl or guy within seconds but the process to exchange messages, wait for responses, decipher meetings, clarify details and carry momentum and chemistry can seem not only exhausting but repetitive depending on how matches you connect with.

Dating takes time, patience, resiliency, communication skills and authenticity. Here are some alternatives.

People are too picky on dating apps.

Most dating apps have too many filters, preferences and deal-breakers than what is really necessary or otherwise activate if they were meeting people offline in a traditional setting like a bar, cafe, museum, class, group activity, party etc. There is a fine line between being selective and being unrealistic – most people think they can attract someone better or not have to sacrifice anything.

Just because someone has an MBA, made the C-Suite at a company, makes a lot of money or if fit, does not mean he/she is deserves anything when it comes to dating. People can be repulsed by ego (wealth), narcissism (looks), and lack of depth (immaturity).

Being physically attractive in person or on paper doesn’t mean one has the mental, emotional, social attractiveness that others desire. Dating requires compromise, self-awareness and a desire to continually work on oneself.

People have options and are talking to and going on dates with others.

One’s actions and efforts are only part of the equation. Who the other person is dating, talking to or getting intimate with will have as much if not more of an impact with said person’s dating efforts.

It’s ok and expected to be talking to 3-5 people at a time and actively going on dates with 1-2 other people.

People are only as attractive as your worst photo.

This is unfortunate but true. Using more photos is not necessarily better. An unflattering photo or inconsistent look, appearance (hair color, hairstyle, facial hair, tan, hair length, weight, choice of clothes, people in the photo or location of the photo) all provide clues and signals.

Get feedback from trusted sources. Here is an introductory guide to dating app photos.

Assume people will be judged by their main photo only when swiping.

Some people, in an effort to be efficient and save time, will swipe left or right based on the first, main photo. Upon matching, he/she may review the profile in more detail and decide to start a conversation or unmatch.

Not everyone puts their best foot forward. Take time to look at the other photos and rest of the profile.

Everyone will be ghosted, eventually on a dating app.

It’s inevitable. It will happen to some people more than others. It might happen after a few messages, first video chat, first date or hook-up. It’s important to be patient, ask questions, be cautious (but optimistic).

Don’t get jaded if this happens more than once. Learn to screen profiles, read people (communication, photos, bio, prompts and answers).

Likes and matches mean nothing.

Just because you receive a like or match with someone doesn’t mean anything. People quickly swipe through apps and then review photos, bios and answers in more detail after matching. They also compare you against other matches. Don’t overly invest yourself early on in a stranger. Be optimistic but realistic.

Some people will lie about their intentions or lead others on.

Look out for possible red flags: excessive compliments on looks, sexual innuendos, slow response time, lack of effort, briefs answers, no questions asked, never starting a conversation, changing the subject, choosing dates that only involve drinking or going over to a date’s place.

Google love bombing and other dating terms and lingo.

Many lack the ability to be honest, straight-forward.

At some people will make lame excuses, go radio silent for periods of time, pop-up randomly down the road, or simply lack the ability to be honest. Whether it’s fear of being hurt, lack of maturity, not knowing what one wants or try to limit emotional exposure, people tend to shy away from confrontation, difficult conversations and ambiguity.

Don’t make excuses for others. Don’t forgive those who don’t ask for forgiveness or are not sincere. Don’t be afraid to be single rather than staying in a toxic relationship. These are some red flags to look out for.

Dating apps are merely introduction apps – you don’t date online.

Dating occurs once you meet. If you don’t meet, you are not dating. Don’t overly invest in someone (time, emotions) without spending time with them first. Loneliness and depression can create a false sense of connection or existence of a relationship.

Dating apps are not ordering apps. Relationships take time to evolve, grow. Expecting a final product is unrealistic and unhealthy.

Ask questions, have difficult conversations, put yourself out there. You meet online but date offline

Emotional toll, fatigue, burnout Is common.

It’s ok to take a break or delete apps altogether. Many people are not mentally or emotionally ready for dating. Others don’t know how to screen people, read red flags, nor call it quits and move on. A number of people don’t know what they want or lack the self-restraint to deprioritize looks, career, pedigree and place more value and weight in character, manners, personality.


Online dating is competitive.

Male to female gender ratios can be brutal, especially for guys in their early 20s and in tech heavy areas like San Jose (Man Jose), Seattle (Manattle) and Denver (Menver). It’s not surprising to see male/female ratios crawl up to 1.5 to 1 or even 3+ to 1 in some cities.

If the odds are so challenging, why bother? Well plenty of people self-sabotage their profiles with bad photos, incomplete/lazy bios, poor app choice, unflattering outfits, poses, and environments that is quite easy to leapfrog the competition if you invest in your heath, appearance, style, body language, expressions, writing skills and photos.


People attract who they are not what they seek.

It’s not enough to desire something or someone. What people observe is what will ultimately dictate if they are attracted to someone. Apps, other people are equally to blame in addition to one’s own actions, efforts and signals.

If you attract immature people, only get contacted by those looking for a hookup or get ghosted regularly, take a deep look in the mirror. Look at the dating profiles, communication, photos – what do they signal?

Communication skills are important.

Yes, photos and biographical information is key but communication skills will destroy you. Inability to engage a match, poor texting skills, inability to plan dates, difficulty maintaining online chemistry for periods of a time are where most people fail. Short answers, not initiating message, delayed responses to messages or using poor grammar will offset your otherwise perfect profile.

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

Online Dating Safety Tips

Check out this guide on how to stay safe on dating apps:

Online Dating Etiquette

Check out this post on etiquette around apps, messaging, profiles and dates:

Online Dating Resource Guide

Comprehensive resource guide for stats, studies, surveys around dating apps:

Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More):

Hard Truths Of Dating Sites, Harsh Reality Of Online Dating, Dating App Fatigue, Dating App Mental Health, Negative Effects Of Online Dating, Catfishing, Lying, Etiquette, Unrealistic Expectations, Does Only Dating Work, Is Online Dating Worth It, Ugly Truth About Dating Apps, Psychological Effects of Online Dating, Dangers of Online Dating, Facts About Online Dating, Why Is Online Dating So Hard, Misconceptions Of Online Dating, Reality of Dating Apps, Online Dating Disappointing, Ugly Truth About Online Dating, Pros & Cons Of Online Dating, Pro’s & Con’s Of Dating Apps, Harsh Truths About Modern Dating, Harsh Online Dating Realities, Hard Truths About Online Dating, Online Dating Woes, Brutal Honesty Dating Apps, Harsh Reality Of Tinder, Online Dating Truths, I Hate Online Dating, Modern Dating Frustration, Dating In Today’s Society, Online Dating Experiences, Tired Of Dating, Online Dating Myths, Dating App Misconceptions, Dating In Your 30s As A Man, Dating In Your 40s As A Woman, Dating In YOur 50s As A Man, Dating As A Single Parent, Why Do Girls Not Like Me, Why Do Women Not Like Me, Why Do Men Not Like Me, Why Do Guys Not Like Me, Dating In Your 30s, Women In Their 40s, Men In Their 40s, The Reality Of Dating Over 45, Dating Around, This Is Why You Are Very Single, When You Have Nothing To Offer But Want Everything, This Is Why You’re Single, Why Am I Still Single At 30, Forever Single Man, Ambivalance In Relatiionships, Ambivalent Man, Dating An Ambivlant Guy, No Matches On Tinder, No Matches On Bumble, No Matches On Hinge, No LIkes On Tinder, No Likes On Hinge, Online Dating Success Rate, How Successful Is Online Dating, What Is Online Dating Like For A Man, What Is Online Dating Like For A Woman, Online Dating Problems, Can’t Get A Girlfriend, Can’t Find A Boyfriend, Why Am I Single,