How Dating Apps Can Actually Make You More Lonely

When you’re feeling down on yourself or lonely, it’s easy to pull up Tinder and be confronted by an army of smiling dudes, ready to have a shot with you.

But it turns out that your addiction to dating apps could actually be making you feel more lonely. Here’s why.

Your Real Friend Is Your Phone

We all have that friend who texts you from time to time, saying that you need to get coffee and catch up, but you never actually get to doing so. That effect is magnified on Tinder and other dating apps. While you may spend tons of time swiping and messaging matches, you probably spend a small fraction of the time connecting with those matches in person.

Many studies have found that while social media can reduce loneliness, it can actually increase loneliness if you don’t combine social media with in-person bonding. Almost like a sugar high, you may feel great when you open your phone to 10 new matches or 89 likes on your latest selfie, but that feeling quickly goes away once you realize you have nobody to have a serious conversation with.

It’s almost as if by using your smartphone to search for love, you end up in a relationship with your smartphone and your dating app of choice instead of with an actual person.

You Create Unrealistic Standards

A famous study surrounding jam was done in 1995 and proved that having more options actually makes people less likely to make a choice. In the experiment, shoppers were confronted with samples of jam in a supermarket. One group was presented with more samples, and one group was presented with less. It was found that the group that was presented with less samples was much more likely to purchase a jam.

This study has been replicated in multiple layouts, but all results have remained clear: we’re more sure of ourselves when we have fewer options.

When you’re confronted with thousands of potential dates on an app, it can make it easy to pull your standards up to immeasurable heights. Your last boyfriend may have been an average looking dude who worked at a car wash, but now that you’re on OkCupid you’re aiming for a model-worthy man who makes over $90,000 a year, loves alternative rock, and has one or more tattoos.

Even if you don’t have a specific type that you’re searching for, you likely find yourself going on multiple first dates and brushing them off in hopes of something better. At the end of the week, after going on three above-average dates, you might still find yourself alone in your bed wishing for a guy that doesn’t exist.

You Want To Skip To The Good Part

Although you may message your matches saying that you’re on Happn “just for fun,” you likely don’t sign up for a dating app unless you’re hoping to find a boyfriend or a more serious relationship. Unfortunately, having meaningless flirtatious conversations with 20 dudes at a time isn’t going to make you feel less lonely. Studies have found that loneliness isn’t based on quantity, it’s based on quality.

You can be dating seven dudes at a time, one for each day of the week, and still feel alone. Why? Because you’re not going to reach that “special” level with anybody until you’ve been seeing them for a long time. Using a dating app can sometimes lead us to the delusion that we’ll eventually match with someone who just gets us. The truth is, we are all complex individuals that are not going to be understood by some cute guy just because he read our dating profile and knows that we “love sushi and SoulCycle.” Whether you meet somebody online or in person, he’s not going to morph into your soulmate overnight.

You Lose Yourself In The Game

If you’ve ever used a dating app for a while, you’ve probably gotten to the point where checking your messages and matches felt like work. In Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance, he speaks to a girl who says “the process [of online dating] had morphed from something fun and exciting into a new source of stress and dread.”

When finding a lover feels like work, you lose peace of mind and time that could be spent on yourself. Instead of spending your evenings responding to the countless messages you missed during the day, do something that you want to do. Who knows, maybe when you go to that new yoga class you’ve been wanting to try you’ll meet a cute instructor, or when you hit up that bistro down the block you’ll run into Mr. Perfect at the bar. Maybe you won’t run into any potential dates while you’re out and about, but you’ll go home at the end of the night feeling a lot better about yourself than you would if you stared at your phone all night.

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