Dating apps are becoming an increasingly normal way for people to connect with one another, but just how are they changing our psychology? With a few swipes of the smartphone and a clever caption, the dating app world has opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities. But while this all seems exciting, relationships formed via apps aren’t without their potential pitfalls.
For starters, we often get to portray ourselves as a more attractive version of ourselves than we truly are. We can more carefully curate our responses, introduce more thoughtful pauses between conversations, and play to the person’s known interests. we have time to ‘make ourselves better’ through the construction of a curated persona. Along the lines of presenting ourselves outside our authentic selves, many of us search for validation through the virtual likes and thumbs up of others and often feel discouraged or rushed into forming connections that we would not necessarily form in person.
The difficulty of online relationships, such as those formed via dating apps, is that it can become easy to shift our identity to suit the needs and desires of what we think someone wants to see, leading us to imagine that we are positioned a certain way and that certain needs of the other person are being fulfilled in a particular way when in reality, that may not be the case at all. This can lead to immense frustration on both sides; neither person feels satisfied, and often neither can quite put their finger on why.
Then there is the instantaneous gratification aspect of dating apps. It can be difficult to say no to the promise of connection when it’s right at our fingertips. Heck, ‘the one’ could be a few swipes away after all! Yet, if we rush too quickly into things, we run the risk of being so focused on the promise of something big that we forget to really get to know who it is we are talking to. We end up feeling an overwhelming sense of letdown once the initial thrill of connection wears off.
Finally, there’s the simple fact that the act of dating feels so much more ‘real’ when it is face-to-face rather than over a computer screen. Meeting up for drinks or dinner suddenly brings up issues like laughing at the same jokes and whether a hand flirtatiously grazing a knee was intentional or not, creating a unique kind of tension that doesn’t exist through digital interactions.
To summarize, dating apps can create a whole host of psychological issues, from feeling unrealistically inadequate or creating deep hopes only to be tragically let down. We often have to learn not to rush too quickly into things without getting to know the person behind the profile and even then, the act of creating a real connection is much harder because there is no physical proximity involved. That said, dating apps are a good way to get out there and open the door for possible connections, so long as people approach them with caution.