Online Dating and Mental Health: Loneliness, Social Anxiety & the Negative Effects of Online Dating
What are the psychological effects of online dating and how does it affect 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 of your routine. 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 have not have the chance to meet due to constraints of friends, social circles, neighborhoods and more.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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 provides a cloak in which some people act worse than if they were to encounter folks in person. Ghosting (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.
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.
As with all social media, success stories and experiences can be one sided, 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, communication skills are often times 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 point of frustration many daters experience.
Lastly, developing skills to detect scammers is extremely important. There are many lonely, insecure, and depressed people on dating apps and unfortunately scammers an 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.
Excessive use of dating apps can yield similar dangers as seen with gamers and gamblers with respect to addiction and lack of social interaction.
Further Reading: Safety Tips To Consider While Online Dating – https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-safety-tips/
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. https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
Dating Profile Critique
For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.
For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice: https://eddie-hernandez.com/blog/
Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More): https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-frequently-asked-questions/