50 million Americans have turned to online dating in a quest to find a companion, and close to 40% of American couples who met in 2017 did so via dating apps and online dating sites. However, new research says that online dating can be detrimental to one’s mental health, and even grow into an addiction.
The study, which was just published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, offers research which lines up with what many experts have feared in regards to dating apps like Tinder.
The researchers found that people reported missing school or work due to spending time on these dating sites, and that many of these survey respondents reported negative consequences as a result of their online dating use. In particular, people with social anxiety and people who reported the highest levels of loneliness were the most likely to be negatively impacted by dating apps.
In other words, the people who could most benefit from positive social interaction instead end up spiraling even further into a place of isolation as their phone becomes a crutch that prevents them from making real-life connections.
Due to their visual nature, dating apps like Tinder impact us on a very primal level. And it can become a very vicious circle. Too many left swipes can leave a person feeling unattractive, unlovable, and completely worthless. So, they seek to fill that void by spending even more time on the app, uploading new pics, writing and re-writing their bio, and even spending money on ‘super likes’ to garner more attention. It’s easy to see how this can become compulsive and very harmful.
Relying on dating apps can impair our ability to connect with people in real life. After all, you can’t swipe right when you walk by a cute stranger. Instead, you have to walk right up to them and strike up a conversation if you want a chance.
The more we use dating apps, the more we may struggle with real-life courtship. It’s easy to swipe right or send a heart emoji…it’s harder to approach someone and be vulnerable outside of an app. But it’s also how we grow, how we become more confident, and how we establish crucial social skills.
Technology is wonderful…but we need to make sure we are using it as a tool for connection, not isolation, and that means being mindful and conservative with our use of apps and social media.