These days we have everything available at our fingertips, literally. Whether it be ordering groceries, watching movies, or dating. Online dating has gained traction over the last few years. While online dating may have benefits, it also has some drawbacks that can potentially affect our mental health, and not in a good way.
Dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, etc have become more popular and these apps have taken over cyberspace when it comes to the dating scene. With the advent of these apps, the risks of users developing issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, etc have also increased, exponentially.
Before you go on swiping left or right, let’s take a look at the possible psychological effects of online dating and how online dating can affect our overall mental wellness.
Effects Of Online Dating
1. Rejection Can Be Debilitating
Rejection or fear of rejection is pretty high on the list of effects of online dating. Many studies have shown that 50% of online matches don’t return the texts. It is believed that if a message is not returned then that means that a person is being ignored or is rejected by the other.
Online dating and rejection, in a way, are closely related to each other. Rejection, in any form, can severely affect a person’s mental health. The pain of rejection can be more intense than physical pain.
While physical pain might leave physical scars behind, the pain of rejection might leave deeper scars on a person’s psyche. This fear of rejection can prevent a person to socially withdraw from the dating scene, go into depression, or develop other mental health issues.
2. The Ghosting Phenomenon
Ghosting is a term that can be closely associated with online dating. This term means that one person is not responding to the other’s texts, calls, etc, or is not showing up when they are expected. This is something that can be experienced by any person (regardless of age, sex, gender, etc) who’s dating.
Online dating can be depressing when someone you’ve been constantly talking to suddenly stops responding to you. This ghosting phenomenon can create severe damage to a person’s mental wellness.
It just doesn’t keep you thinking that somehow you ended up pushing the other person too fast or you will keep wondering if you were not good enough for them anymore. (Spoiler alert! You are amazing the way you are)
Anyone who’s experienced ghosting before will always feel fear and anxiety when the time to meet new people comes around. It can also make someone give up on finding love or dating completely.
2. Low Self-Esteem
People who are frequent users of online dating apps have lower self-esteem (or the risk of developing low self-esteem) than those who prefer in-person dating. As I said, online dating can increase the risk of getting rejected. Constant rejection and being ghosted can take a toll on a person’s wellbeing and lower their self-esteem.
Even if you’re getting ten messages and eleven rejections, it is the rejection that will stick with you. You will overlook the messages and focus on the rejection. This might lead a person to think that maybe there is something wrong with them or that maybe there are not good enough.
3. Risk Of Shallow Relationships
The fact is that via online dating, we meet many people – some good and some toxic. Online dating, however, can increase the risk of meeting people who are not interested in developing deep and meaningful relationships. Shallow relationships are formed in online dating which can be rather unsatisfying and leave you feeling lonely.
No matter what you do, any relationship that is not meaningful and leaves you feeling unfulfilled will result in loneliness.
To prevent depression and other mental issues from developing, you must engage in meaningful relationships with people you have real attachment and commitment. Loneliness can be as harmful to your mental health as depression can be.
3. Increase In Indecisiveness
When you’re into online dating, you are more often than not ‘matched’ with another user. Once you’re onto a dating site, it can become addictive and it can make you think that there can be someone better out there other than the person you’re currently dating.
This kind of thinking will only let you enter brief relationships where you will not feel committed to the ones you’ve chatted with. These brief relationships are never satisfying and along with loneliness, it can increase indecisiveness.
This indecisiveness can create anxiety because you’re anxious that you’ll meet someone different and more compatible than the person you’re currently with. And this cycle continues. When you meet someone online, you talk to them, and then you think you’ll meet someone better than them.
This indecisiveness can also carry on to your other aspects of life as well which can potentially harm your overall wellbeing.
Here the solution can be that instead of chatting too long, meet in person. When we see someone in person, it becomes easy to calculate and assess the compatibility. If you’re not compatible with the person, you can move on to find the right match.
Tips For Healthy Online Dating
Despite the drawbacks, online dating can help you meet new people and form connections. Before you try online dating, here are some tips to help you experience healthy online dating:
1. As yourself, if you’re ready to use a dating app. Are you resilient to handle the pain of rejection? If your answer is yes, go get ‘em! However, if your answer is no, then make sure you take time before trying online dating.
2. Limit your time on the app. It’s good that you’re taking time to meet new people but remember that you still have a life away from online dating. Keep a time limit on using the app. It’ll help you in the long run.
3. Try meeting in person as soon as possible. If you feel you have developed a connection with someone, then instead of continuing online chatting, try meeting in person to assess compatibility before moving on.
4. Stay positive and be kind. If you’re in a bad mood do not open the app. Engaging in a conversation in a bad mood will take away your chance to have meaningful and positive conversations. If someone rejects you via chat, be kind. Being rude and saying harsh words is not okay.
5. Remember setting boundaries No matter if its offline or online dating, set healthy boundaries if you want to develop a healthy and meaningful relationship in the future. Boundaries will help you keep your mental and emotional health intact.
Online dating and mental health are related, no matter how much we try to deny that. These days almost everyone prefers online dating to offline dating and while online dating might not feel as satisfying, there are some benefits too.
If you’re struggling with a mental health disorder, it is recommended you consult your therapist or a counselor before you step into the dating scene.
I hope the above-mentioned potential psychological effects of online dating helped you understand how to move forward when it comes to dating online.
Lots Of Love!