Psychological Effects Of Online Dating: Dark Side Of Online Dating: Depression & Self-Esteem; Negative Effects Of Dating Apps, Dating Apps And Mental Health

I am a big fan of online dating when done correctly. As a tool, it’s a great way to meet others outside your routine but there are bad side effects including online dating addiction. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around dating apps and that has led to people not being as open about situations that arise like catfishing, depression, body issues and more.

Single parents, busy professionals, those who are new to a city etc. can benefit when time is limited, routines and ability to go out all the time is scarce or when you are looking to meet others you normally would not have met due to constraints of friends, social circles, neighborhoods and more.

Related read: Pros & Cons Of Online Dating


Are Dating Apps Bad For Mental Health? Is Online Dating Bad For Mental Health?

Not all dating apps are created equal and for that, it’s important to read up on a beginner’s guide to online dating. Dating apps are nor ordering apps. They are merely introduction tools. As such, one should never be too trusting of strangers they don’t know.

This includes screening people, ID’ing red flags, knowing what love-bombing is and being patient rather than pre-qualifying people too quickly, getting intimate too soon, and being on the same page when it comes to expectations.

Many things are needed to have a good shot of having success on dating apps and one can’t expect to dabble with apps, put in low effort or fail to have self-awareness and expect to have a good experience. There are many negative effects of online dating one should be aware of. Dating when depressed can make things even worse.

Dating apps require thick skin, patience, focused effort, luck and skills to make it worthwhile.

Related reading: Taking A Break From Dating Apps

Online Dating Experience: Success Rate Of Online Dating, Pros & Cons Of Dating Apps

Dating apps are merely an introduction tool yet many people treat them like ordering apps (Doordash, UberEats etc.) or rely on them exclusively to meet others instead of just another supplemental channel.

This can lead to harmful, negative effects such as devaluing yourself, putting all your self-worth into dating apps, getting false hope, being on the receiving end of rejection and making mental health issues even worst.

Not everyone on dating apps are ready to date, wanting to date or being honest. Lots of patience, self-awareness, effort, good photos, decent writing skills, life experience, approachability, timing and strategy is needed to have success on dating apps.

Below is a guide to what to expect from dating apps and how to approach them so you can assess whether they are right for you.

How To Approach Online Dating: Relying Exclusively on Dating Apps

Unfortunately, many folks rely on dating apps exclusively which is not the worst thing but when you spend excessive amount of time (I recommend no more than 3 times a week, 20 minutes a day max) and it starts to affect your health, outlook and social life – that’s when it becomes a danger.

Dating apps should merely be another introduction tool to facilitate meeting people outside your work, school, routines and social circles. You shouldn’t rely on dating apps 100% for dating.

Addictive volume based apps result in a low conversion rate of swipes to matches to dates yielding obscenely high levels or rejection.

More thoughtful relationship based apps are better but excessive filtering and preferences can limit your available pool of users. Learn more about how to meet people offline in your area.

Chances are if you have absolutely zero traction in the first 3 months of using dating apps, take a break. Get independent feedback on your app choice, preferences, photos, appearance, smiles, outfits, bio, prompt choices and first lines used. Going on more than that is bad for your mental health.

Related read: Are You Ready To Date?


Negative Effects Of Online Dating, Do Dating Apps Ruin Confidence?, Dating App Depression

In both cases, these apps often rely on monetization efforts to stay in business; as such getting folks hooked on dating apps and leading them to think a recurring monthly fee will help their dating woes can sometimes provide false hope.

Paying to see who likes you, revealing possible hidden profiles, figuring out who has read your messages, extending windows for replies and boosting visibility can not only artificially inflate hopes but detracts from where the focus should be – yourself.

Read this handy post with helpful resource articles, studies, surveys and more.

These bells and whistles often prey on people’s sense of curiosity, insecurity, need for attention and desire to be accepted and wanted resulting in high levels of anxiety.

Add to that the constant flow of notifications, alerts, emails and updates, it’s no wonder some folks can feel overwhelmed and bombarded with options and decisions to make.

Some behaviors that you are spending too much time on dating apps can include neglecting plans with friends, preference for swiping inside vs going outside, swiping too quickly and often without fully reviewing profiles, going out with people you normally would avoid for good cause if you met offline, using dating apps because you are lonely, need a confidence boost or bored.

Excessive use can lead to increase levels of anxiety i.e. what does it mean if x, why hasn’t y replied, does x like me. App notifications, buggy apps lead to high levels of anxiety – not worth it if you have trouble with such situations.

Related read: Online Dating Addiction: Addicted To Dating Apps


Online Dating Coaching For Men, Women

Help w/ swiping, timing, app choice, messages, filters, deal-breakers, paid features, screening profiles, reading people, ID'ing red flags/liars/time-wasters, date planning, & using dating apps more effectively & efficiently.


Online Dating Anxiety: Too Much Pressure On First Dates, Psychological Effects 

Other reasons that things are heading down the wrong path include putting too much pressure on a first date, getting emotionally attached before meeting someone in person, being easily flattered by early and excessive compliments, spending months or even years without obtaining likes, matches, conversations or dates.

The other thing to look out for is creating duplicate profiles, trying to game the system, engaging in bad behavior online that you would never do offline because of anonymity.

When using dating apps, you should have the same outlook as if you were meeting people offline. Do I like this person? Do I want to see them again? Did we have fun? Trying to figure out if this person is the one is too much pressure to put on a first or second date.

Additionally, no one person should be able to exert so much control over your emotions especially early on. If conversations are one-sided, dates are continually postponed or if one person is constantly starting conversations, that might be a sign the other person is not taking things seriously.


Anonymity & Mysteriousness; Online Dating Pitfalls, Dating App Side Effects, Toxic Behavior

Anonymity provides a cloak in which some people act worse than if they were to encounter folks in person. Ghosting on dating apps (sudden, unexplained drop in communication and abandonment) as well as verbal and dehumanizing assault are not that uncommon.

Pathological and narcissistic behavior can arise from folks looking for validation at the expense of treating others poorly in an attempt to yield power and control over others.

Endless queue of profiles can give a sense of disposability when it comes to options. Often times folks question if there are better options around the corner given the ease at which one can meet others through dating apps.

When it comes to photos, it’s important to they reflect who you are and how you look. Any deception intentional or accidental may delay heartbreak and rejection. Some folks use outdated photos or lie about their age to secure a date in hopes they can convince the person to give them a chance.

Relationships that begin with lies often fail. You have to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with others. When it comes to dates, take quantity over quantity.


Online Dating Still Requires Soft Skills i.e. Communication Skills, Social Skills, Emotional IQ 

Online dating is hard. It is merely another channel for meeting other folks, it is not a shortcut. Make sure you are working on your soft skills (exercise, eating well, career, friends, family, hobbies, classes etc.).

People want to meet and date others that interest them, inspire them, can teach them something, can carry a conversation, that have good energy levels. If you ignore these items, it will be hard to have success beyond date #1.

Like all things in life, it’s important to talk to others about your life and dating situation. Get unbiased feedback on your profile (friends have a tendency to avoid telling you the truth), take breaks, work on yourself at all times.

Relying too much on dating apps can have dire consequences that can affect morale, confidence, self-worth and trust resulting in depression. Don’t ignore the other aspects of your life when using dating apps.


Is Online Dating Depressing? Online Dating Fatigue & Negative Effects Of Dating Apps

As with all social media, success stories and experiences can be one-sided, and inflated. While its possible people can meet others with days or weeks of signing up on an app, it usually takes much longer than that to meet quality people.

Choosing the right app, photos, bios, messages go a long way but health, looks, work, mental health, exercise, social life, hobbies, and communication skills are oftentimes overlooked. Second-guessing appearances and comparing oneself to others can lead people down rabbit-holes echoing body-shaming.

Even if you do manage to obtain some seemingly quality matches, the problems don’t end there. Many users of dating apps report that their first dates from dating apps can oftentimes be uncomfortable, brutal or unrewarding.

Inability to transition from online messaging to offline dates is a point of frustration many daters experience leaving them to wonder, is online dating worth it?


Dating When Depressed: Can Dating Cause Depression & Should You Date While Depressed? 

Dating when depressed can make your mental health even worst. It puts too much pressure on strangers to lift you up. It clouds your judgment as people tend to overlook red flags to avoid being lonely, ignored.

No one is ever perfect but most people who date successfully are self-aware, patient, have enough going on in their life that they don’t all their self-worth into dates or overly invest themselves in strangers too often, too quickly.

Dating requires energy, focus, positivity, enthusiasm and trust which are all difficult to master when depressed. It’s highly advisable to see a therapist when depressed especially when wanting to start dating again.

Getting feedback on your relationship history, attachment patterns and confidence, conversation skills, outlook on life and intentions are crucial when deciding to dip your toes back in the dating pool.


Online Dating & Mental Health – Dangers Of Online Dating: Love-Bombing & Moving Too Fast

If you happen to meet someone who is too good to be true he/she likely is. There are lot of scammers out there that prey on people dating apps especially if there divorced, lonely, depressed or have been on dating apps for a long time.

Love-bombing is a term where someone floods you with compliments and promises of affection etc. mostly even before meeting you. You should never develop strong feelings for someone you have not met or someone too soon. Love takes time, effort, patience and an ability to read people.

Don’t over-invest in people especially if they don’t find time to meet with you, will not work around your schedule to meet you at your convenience, doesn’t introduce you to family + family, never makes future plans and makes excuses all the time.

Don’t emotionally invest yourself for someone who does not meet you halfway and especially for people who don’t respect you, prioritize you.


Are Dating Apps Toxic? Online Dating Anxiety, Emotional Pain and Trauma, Online Dating Culture

There are a variety of reasons why people give dating apps a try: love, companionship, new in the city, loneliness, validation, boredom, scams, research, sales or to get into someone’s head. Not everyone who joins a dating app is in a good place. Pain and trauma from an ex, depression or other conditions can severely worsen with dating apps.

There are many highs and lows with online dating and putting too much pressure can lead to unhealthy expectations and dependencies.

Anonymity, vague intentions, misrepresentation and lazy effort should be expected on some volume with dating apps (more so depending on your ability to filter/analyze profiles, people, photos, bios and communication).

Ideally you should seek help before attempting to use dating apps if you are dealing with such conditions as dating apps have a tendency to make these things worst.


Online Dating  Constant Rejection: Can Online Dating Cause Depression? 

Rejected by every girl – this is not uncommon. Many people have bad photos, choose wrong apps, lack good conversation skills or lack an approachable personality.

Dating apps require time, good photos, luck, patience, thick skin, continual self-improvement, self-awareness and realistic expectations. To avoid fatigue and reduce changes long-term negative aspects of dating apps, it’s recommended to not put all your self-worth and time into dating apps.

Dating apps should be just one method for meeting people. They should not serve as a crutch for you and make up for poor communication skills, shyness, desire to go outside and meet people through friends and social functions. Once you meet someone on a dating app, you need all the offline skills to be effective including communication skills, date planning skills etc.

Having a well-rounded life, good mental health, emotional availablity and ability to read people are recommended to be successful with dating apps. Insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results.

Hire a therapist, consult with an unbiased professional regarding your profile, app choice, photos, etc to see where you can change your luck.


Your Partner Shouldn’t Be Your Everything, Dating While Lonely

With dating apps, people tend to put too much, too quickly into others whether its because of loneliness, depression, lack of friends or position in life. People tend to be too trusting or think filters and bios are 100% accurate when this is not always the case.

No one can or should be 100% of what you need, crave and desire. Expecting someone to be your friend, mentor, lover, therapist, financial advisor, athletic partner and share your passions, interests completely and with the same intensity as you.

This is impossible unless you expect your partner to give up their life, their hobbies, passions etc. to serve you. These characteristics are what make them and taking that away alters and makes them less – you don’t want this.

These hats are generally shared amongst friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, college roommates, therapists, and long distance friends. This can happen especially when moving to a new city/town when you don’t know people and have a hard time meeting others.

Diversifying your needs should mirror how you would diversify a portfolio for lack of a better metaphor. Figure out what you are willing to try, what your are willing to practice on and what you absolutely cannot stand.

There is a fine line in being completely uninterested in engaging in certain activities, routines etc. Giving things a shot is great and thoughtful but doesn’t always work out for people.

It’s important to give your partner room to breathe especially early in the dating process as this suffocation and forced lifestyles have ended relationships prematurely all too often given how people view dating apps like a checklist for partners.

Some people expect their partners to fit in perfectly into their schedules, routines, lifestyles and master plans. Look for a balance of mutual passions, priorities, effort and lifestyles as well as complementing skills, habits and qualities. No one should want a clone of themselves.


Dating Coach Services - Men & Women

First date ideas, wardrobe, places to meet singles, body language, conversation/social skills, grooming, hygiene, hobbies, lifestyle choices, reducing biases, weeding out time-wasters and more. As seen in the NYT, Bumble.


Online Dating Safety and Red Flags: Online Dating Guys & Girls To Avoid

Lastly, developing skills to detect scammers is extremely important. There are many lonely, insecure, and depressed people on dating apps and unfortunately scammers and predators know this.

As master manipulators, they are trained to look for signs of vulnerability and that’s why it’s important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Read this guide on online dating red flags.

Excessive use of dating apps can yield similar dangers as seen with gamers and gamblers with respect to addiction and lack of social interaction.


Negative Effects Of Online Dating: Dating App Fatigue, Why Is Online Dating So Tiring? 

If you use apps for too long or long enough that you start to let it affect other parts of your life, you can be experiencing dating app fatigue. Mindless swiping, excessive ghosting, misreading people and their intentions can lead to frustration.

Dating apps should be fun, exciting but shouldn’t consume your life. Dating apps (on the surface) appear to be easy ways to meet people, but they require patience, analytical skills to read profiles, photos, bios and messages as well as knowing what you want.

Assuming dating apps will solve your problems is an unhealthy and unrealistic approach to have.

The long you are on apps the more dangerous it can be. Profile fatigue sets in, people assume something is wrong with you. Using the same main photo despite changing subsequent photos can be useless. Some people carry bad experiences on to the next person they meet rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Once you meet in person, it is up to you to use good judgment. You can no longer blame apps for anything. It’s like meeting a person at the bar or cafe, it’s up to you to see if you like them enough to see them again.

Paying for upgrades is pointless and is akin to paying for paid ads for a sub-par product. Always invest in yourself (education, physique, grooming, style, hobbies, smiles, interests etc.) rather than spinning your wheels with paid services, excessive swiping and additional app profiles.

Dating apps are not for everyone and even if they are, plenty of self-sabotage occurs either from your own actions and assumptions or bad advice for biased friends, family and internet forums. Spend no more than 1 hour a week on apps and focus on your in-person, offline self for optimal results.


Overly Investing Yourself In Others, Seeking Validation, Stop People Pleasing 

Don’t do it, it’ll just open you up to scams, heartbreak. 

-Talk to more than one person. Dating apps are introduction apps to see who you want to go on a date with. They are not order apps like Uber Eats. People lie, misrepresent themselves.

-Don’t talk to the person all the time. They are still a stranger you haven’t met. No need to say good morning, good night every day. You are not exclusive, they are talking to other people.

-Not profiles and people you are talking are what they appear. Sometimes offline transitions sucks and chemistry is not there.

-Approach dating apps like an introduction service. Talk, flirt, exchange messages, do a video chat but then meet offline asap or don’t invest your time, emotions and attention into a stranger you hardly know, never met.


Insecure About Dating Apps: How Online Dating Can Damage Self-Esteem

If you are insecure about your appearance, afraid to put yourself out there or not willing to be a bit vulnerable, dating apps are not for you (at least not right now). It might be best to speak with a a therapist to address concerns about privacy, trauma, past relationships, vulnerability, confidence and the like.

Chances are you will encounter a scammer, someone who is lying about their intentions, someone who misrepresents their actual looks, someone who might be married, someone who lies about their age or someone who ghosts you.

Having thick skin helps. Knowing how to ID red flags is key. Having realistic expectations is crucial.


Dealing With Rejection On Dating Apps: Self-Esteem, Online Dating Destroyed Confidence

You need to learn to deal with rejection and not internalize everything. If you can’t do that, don’t use apps. You can’t control what others do, say but you can reduce chances of going on bad dates and ignoring awful people by developing thick skin.

Get support you need so you don’t go into a dark place if you get left swiped all the time, get people to unmatch you often, quickly or get dates canceled or can’t secure second dates.


No Likes On Hinge, No Likes On Bumble, No Matches On Hinge, No Matches On Bumble

If you manage to get no likes nor matches on apps after a few weeks, months. Take a break. Chances are there is something wrong with your profile, expectations, swiping, writing, messaging, approach, app choice, facial expressions, body language, grooming habits, lifestyle choices or realistic expectations.

Insanity is doing the same thing, expecting different results.

Read: No likes, no matches on dating apps.


Positive Effects Of Online Dating, Benefits Of Dating Apps, Effects Of Online Dating On Society

Not everything and not all situations are bad for people when it comes to online dating. Dating apps can greatly expand your dating pool, introduce you to people you would have never met and help you to date people you might not have considered before. It can great make society more connected if used correctly, appropriately. Read about the benefits and positive effects of dating apps when done correctly here.


Taking A Break From Online Dating, Taking Time Off From Dating Apps (Dating App Addiction)

Dating take time. Be sure to make time for yourself. Don’t neglect crucial aspects of your life including health, friends, hobbies, family, career etc. Pause your accounts and come back when you can devote time, be present and not just dabble in apps.

If you haven’t seen any success in 3-6 months, get off apps asap. Get some independent feedback, help (not from friends nor from Reddit).

More on taking a break from dating apps here.

Related read: Dating App Addition, Online Dating Addiction


Dating App Effects On Society, Online Dating Effects On Society – Online Dating Confidence,

They are making people more jaded, more insecure, more anti-social more depressed and more disconnected with others. The more you rely on apps for your dating efforts, the less time you have for friends, social skills, hobbies, interests, exercise etc. – these are the building blocks that make you interesting, unique and attractive.

Don’t get me wrong, I think dating apps are great but only if you have thick skin, self-awareness, know what you are doing, are not depressed or experiencing mental health issues, have realistic expectations and use them infrequently. Dating apps should be used sparingly in addition to offline efforts to meet people organically.

Related read: Alternatives To Online Dating


Tips For Using Dating Apps, Advice On Limiting Online Dating Burnout 

1) Limit usage to 20-30 minutes a day max, 3-4 days a week.

2) If apps don’t work for you, stop using them. Doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results is well, you can figure that out.

3) Always work on yourself: happiness, health, mental health, social circles, hobbies, interests, lifestyle choices

4) If you are too busy to date or meet people offline, you likely are too busy to use dating apps

5) Dating apps are not meant to be easier than meeting offline; it’s another tool. Some people do better in person.

6) It’s important to deal with trauma before entering a vulnerable relationship; don’t use dates as therapists.

7) Dating has its ups and downs, don’t expect problems to go away or be fixed by finding ‘the right one’.

8) Some people prey on insecure folks, those that are vulnerable to manipulation tactics. These folks are easier to find on dating apps via photos, messages, tone etc.


Dating Profile Critique, Review Services

App Choice, Photo Critique (Order, Captions), Bios, Prompts; Wardrobe, Hobbies, Grooming  Recommendations, Body Language, Facial Expressions, Lifestyle Choices (Men & Women).

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie is a dating coach for men & women in San Francisco (clients in NYC, LA, Chicago, & beyond ), as seen in the NYT & Bumble). He helps w/ profiles, photos, wardrobe, messaging, date ideas, red flags, lifestyle choices, hobbies, grooming/hygiene, communication, social skills & offline efforts.