How Are Dating Apps Affecting Our Mental Health?

New Girl’s Jess Day on a boring AF date. Credit: FOX

Dating apps have taken over the world, for example 40% of Americans now use online dating- that’s a whole lotta people. Oh, and in a survey by Opinionmatters it was found that 40% of men lie on their profiles. So that’s a super fun statistic.

Living in any big city, like London, it’s rarer to hear of a couple meeting organically than it is for them to have met on Tinder. They’ve become an integral part of single life, and non-single life for the idiots out there, but are they good for us? More specifically, are they good for our mental health?

We’ve all heard of people who have had a dating app hiatus or cleanse after a string of bad dates, myself included, only to sheepishly redownload Bumble/Tinder/Happn after one too many glasses of wine. Why do we do this? Partly, it’s disillusionment with dating; ghosting, bread-crumbing and cushioning have become commonplace, which is not only emotionally hurtful but also extremely exhausting. Putting yourself out there, time and time again gets boring.

For a lot of millennials, it’s common to be dating several people- switching out backups here and there when a better option comes along, or when someone drops off the radar. However, these dating app cleanses have deeper triggers than just feeling “meh” about finding love.

The emotional roller coaster starts off as being addictive; a string of good dates and temporary ego-boosts soar us up, only to be followed by the unavoidable downwards drop. However, in this environment, no one is a victim, so self-wallowing is hard because we’re all behaving as badly as each other.  Therefore, the situation we find ourselves in is this: feeling sad, lonely and sorry for ourselves but also guilty, because indefinitely we’ve treated someone how we’re currently being treated.

This cycle self-perpetuates. Have you ever deleted your dating app of choice after a particularly good fourth date? Only to be sacked off for someone else? What did you do after this? I’ll bet you got right back on the horse and swiped like there was no tomorrow, looking for short term pick-me-ups and endorsement that you’re not some heinous un-dateable swamp creature.

It’s an unsustainable culture that leaves us deflated. The anxiety inducing games played, the dating fatigue funk, the high highs and low lows are all made worse by the accessibility of dating apps. Past generations had to go out and make genuine connections, put in effort and actively look for romantic partners. We’ve got lazy. The idea that there’s always a better version out there, or thousands of rebounds and ‘ones for now’ over ‘the one’ makes us greedy.

If you have pre-existing mental health issues, it’s easy to see how these dating apps can be dangerous. It was recently found that there’s a high correlation between Instagram and anxiety due to its perpetuation of unrealistic beauty standards and heavily curated lives that leave young women and men feeling like they’re not good enough. Tinder, surely, is in the same boat. Our confidence and mental health ebbs and flows depending on the number of matches we get.

This isn’t a healthy or sane way to measure our self-worth. Much like endorphins are released when we get a ‘like’ on social media, a match has the same effect. This feels good in the moment but creates an environment whereby we validate our worth based on what a stranger behind a screen thinks.

So, what can we do to get out of this shit show? Do we carry on using dating apps but with more self-awareness and morality, do we delete them altogether and try IRL mechanisms, or do we continue using them sporadically?

For now, I’ve pressed deactivate. Let’s see if I last past weekend drinks.


1 Comment

    September 14, 2017 / 6:32 pm


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