The Surprising Ways Dating Apps Can Affect Your Mental Health, According To Experts
If you own a cell phone and are, you know, breathing, then chances are, you have at least one dating app on there. After all, who can resist having what's essentially an all-you-can-date buffet at your finger tips? But here's the thing: Yes, dating apps basically mean you have a nearly endless supply of potential dates literally in our pocket, but is that a good thing? We're all still learning how using dating apps affects your mental health. This sheer abundance of romantic options have vastly changed the way we date from how it used to be back in the ancient times of Match.com and — gasp — meeting face-to-face. Yes, dating apps make it unprecedentedly convenient to find a date for Friday night, but it's not without consequence.
Are dating apps bad for us? Are we making ourselves... lovesick? To get a professional opinion, I reached out to some experts to help uncover the surprising impact of using dating apps on our mental health and well-being. And spoiler alert: Yep, they definitely have an effect. Fortunately, the experts also offered insight on how to combat the negative effects and embrace the positive. Here's what they had to say.
Using Dating Apps Can Lead To Increased Anxiety And Depression
Using a dating app can be really fun and satisfying, especially at first, and even more so when you get a match. However, there is also a lot of exposure to rejection. The fact that the rejection is not experienced directly (as in face to face) may seem like it softens the effect at first, but it's actually cumulative.
Low match rates and crude messages, not to mention ghosting, can actually make regular users more cynical about potential dates over time. So it's little surprise that Anita Chlipala, a licensed therapist and dating expert, says she sees "more anxiety and sometimes depression" develop in clients using dating apps.
Regular Rejection On Dating Apps Can Lower Your Self-Esteem
Over time, the rejection experienced on dating apps can also have a negative effect on how you feel about yourself. "I've worked with singles who are online dating where their self-esteem has taken a hit," says Chlipala. "They wonder what is wrong with them, and they've developed a 'guard' because they've been hurt so many times."
Dating App Use Can Make It Easier To Give Up On Relationships
Using dating apps may also have the surprising effect of making users less inclined to work on their current relationships. According to Chlipala, it can encourage users to feel like the grass is always greener on the next right swipe. "It's important to take a look at our actions and see if we are doing things that are negatively impacting our dating, such as being too dismissive or thinking that a better person is just a swipe away," says Chlipala.
The reason this is a problem, she says, is that in having this kind of attitude, we create unhappiness in our current relationships because we think "things would be better with someone else," rather than actually working on our current relationship to make it better.
How To Mitigate Some Of The Effects Of Dating App Use
So here's the good news: You don't have to immediately delete all your dating apps to avoid these negative emotional and psychological effects — you just have to change the way you use them. For Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, a licensed psychologist and founder of Rapport Relationships, it comes down to simply, being more mindful. "Practice being in the present moment with your date and screening effectively. It is not the app, per se, that causes the problems. It is how someone uses it," says Rhodes. And when you do meet someone, Rhodes says to "get off the app!"
For Chlipala, the answer is to take it easy on yourself. "It's important for singles not to take dating personally," she says. "I know it's easier said than done, but there could be any number of reasons why someone isn't interested in seeing you again. It doesn't mean you're not as worthy or great."
Yes, dating apps can be very addictive, sometimes, but like all things, use them in moderation. If you start to feel some of these negative effects, take a break and focus on remembering why you are so amazing and totally worthy of all the right swipes.
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