The Impact of Dating Apps on Mental Health

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is not to shame anyone using dating apps. I, myself have been a long time user. This is a mere reflection of my experiences.

This past summer, my friend made me a Tinder account as a joke. For someone who had never gotten much attention from boys before, getting matches and having guys flirt with me seemed like a dream come true. However, as I got more and more invested in the app, it morphed into a toxic digital world I couldn’t get out of. I know I’m not the only one. I have noticed an increasing amount of people getting consumed by the simple action of swiping. It’s not healthy and has the potential to truly impact your mental health.

Dating apps come with the risk of dealing with constant rejection. You may not get as many matches as you want to, or others may continue unmatching you. In my opinion, the worst is ghosting. Ghosting is when someone stops all means of communication with you with no explanation. The cycle of matching with someone, engaging in a conversation, investing your energy in them and then having them cut you off randomly can be heartbreaking and frankly, dehumanizing. You end up thinking it is your fault and questioning yourself.

Did I say something wrong?

What if I wasn’t attractive enough for them?

What if I’m just boring?

These thoughts can consume you, and you doubt your own desirability. I have seen people using dating apps, including me, have increased insecurity issues. It’s sad that we let someone who we barely know have the power to crush our self esteem.   Another aspect is the constant swiping. It is a simple action, but has such a lasting impact if done at an unhealthy rate. These dating apps can be addictive, and many use it multiple times a day. However, in each swipe, you are judging someone. You take a brief look at their picture (and their bio if they’re lucky) and you decide if that is someone you are interested in. It is a process of mere seconds, but doing that over and over again can really take a toll on you. It is mentally draining, and not a healthy way to spend time.

Lastly, the conversations themselves can cause harm. Whenever someone asks me how I felt about using Tinder, I say “I felt empowered, yet objectified at the same time.” I feel empowered that I can chose the men (or boys, most of the time) that I interact with and have the option of unmatching anytime I feel uncomfortable. On paper, it would seem like I have all the control. However, you cannot stop the comments that come your way in the initial conversations. A lot of these apps are made for hookups, so the possibility of the messages having a purely sexual goal is high. In my own experience, I have had many conversations that start off with compliments, but slowly they snake in sexual innuendos or straight up ask to hook up. Say no, and you’re unmatched. It makes you feel like the compliments you got initially were lies, and that leads to self-doubts, making the entire process counterproductive. Whether you are looking for a relationship or a hookup, knowing the only purpose someone is talking to you is so they can use your body is never a good feeling. Many end up feeling like sexual objects whose only purpose is to turn someone else on. Not only that, some feel the need to compromise and be more sexually inclined after the repeated rejections. It’s unfortunate and unfair, but I have seen it happen way too many times.

The good news is that if you relate to this, you do not have to delete the apps right away. They do not always have to be a negative experience. Some find exactly what they want, and that is fantastic. However, for the majority of us, that usually doesn’t happen. What I have learned from my experiences is that you cannot choose to be vulnerable with everyone. Not everyone deserves your emotions, and that is ok.

If you are ever bogged down by these dating apps, always remember:

  1. You are enough. You do not have to be anyone but your amazing self.

  2. You are allowed to say no. Do not settle.

  3. If they do not want to be with you, it’s their own damn loss.

Dating apps have taught me a lot about myself, and I hope it does the same for you.