Dating Apps + Mental Health: Loneliness, Rejection, Social Anxiety & Negative Effects of Online Dating. Red Flags, Depression, Addiction & Research Studies.
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. 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.
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 cirlcles. 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.
Online Dating Addiction
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.
Excessive use can lead to increase levels of anxiety i.e. what does it mean if x, why hasn’t y replied, does z like me. App notifications, buggy apps lead to high levels of anxiety – not worth it if you have trouble with such situations.
Too Much Pressure On First Dates
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 and Mysteriousness
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.
Online Dating Still Requires Soft Skills
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.
Taking Things With A Grain Of Salt
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 a point of frustration many daters experience leaving them to wonder, is online dating worth it?
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.
Online Dating Fatigue
Some individuals spend years spinning their wheels with little to no success. Spending more on bells and whistles, spending money on professional modeling photos or hiring a ghostwriter or using the same profile and photos with no success can cause fatigue on yourself (cost/benefit imbalance) as well as fatigue on those seeing your profile too much. It is better to work on yourself and take a break rather than pay for paid ads, artificially enhance your photos or try with the volume approach.
Emotional Pain and Trauma
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 & Rejection
Rejecte 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, patience, thick skin, continual self-improvement, self-awareness and realistic expectations.
Your Partner Shouldn’t Be Your Everything, No One Is Perfect
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 them and taking that away alters and makes them less – you don’t want this.
Your partner cannot wear all the hats, all the time!
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 uniterested in engaging in certain acvities, routines etc. Giving things a shot is great and thougtful 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 adn 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.
Online Dating Safety and Red Flags
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.
Dating App Fatigue
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 unhealth 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 nore more than 1 hour a week on apps and focus on your in-person, offline self for optimal results.
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/
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