Online dating has evolved, but at what cost?
- Some dating apps allow individuals to interact and form romantic/sexual connections before meeting face to face with the ability to "swipe" on the screen to either accept or reject another user's profile. Popular swipe-based apps include Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid.
- Research by Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney has linked the experience of swipe-based dating apps to higher rates of psychological distress and/or depression.
- Not all time spent on these apps is damaging, however. Up to 40 percent of current users say they previously entered a serious relationship with someone they met through one of these apps.
How swipe-based dating apps negatively impact your mental health<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxNjM1OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTIyMDIxOX0.hQtubGPxmKgUwtRgys2DzeuRjyfcQ9_0HlOV7lEYddI/img.jpg?width=980" id="7cbde" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c5df8a4a0d15ad4c0efc42db61917b5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="sad woman in bed looking at smartphone concept of mental health and dating apps swipe-based dating apps" data-width="1000" data-height="667" />
Many people who use swipe-based dating apps report feeling psychological distress and depressive symptoms.
Image by Odua Images on Shutterstock<p>Research by Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney has linked the experience of swipe-based dating apps to higher rates of psychological distress and/or depression.</p><p>An online survey (published in <a href="https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-020-0373-1" target="_blank">BMC Psychology</a>) of over 430 individuals compared the impact of dating habits on the mental health of people who use swipe-based dating apps and those who don't. </p><p>The measures used during this evaluation were the <a href="https://www.tac.vic.gov.au/files-to-move/media/upload/k10_english.pdf" target="_blank">Kessler Psychological Distress Scale</a>, the <a href="https://www.hiv.uw.edu/page/mental-health-screening/gad-2" target="_blank">Generalised Anxiety Disorder-2 scale</a>, the <a href="https://www.hiv.uw.edu/page/mental-health-screening/phq-2" target="_blank">Patient Health Questionnaire-2</a>, and the <a href="https://fetzer.org/sites/default/files/images/stories/pdf/selfmeasures/Self_Measures_for_Self-Esteem_ROSENBERG_SELF-ESTEEM.pdf" target="_blank">Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.</a> An analysis of variance (a tool used in statistics that splits the data into two parts: systematic factors and random factors) was then used to consider all four mental health scores together. </p><p><strong>High psychological distress levels among swipe-based dating app users.</strong></p><p>20 percent of participants who use swipe-based dating apps reported a significantly higher level of psychological distress compared to those who didn't use these apps. </p><p>Sabrina Pit, one of the researchers on the project, explains: "We found an increased frequency of use and longer duration of time using the apps were both associated with greater psychological distress and depression." </p><p><strong>Current swipe-based dating app users show more depressive symptoms than non-users. </strong></p><p>19 percent of current users reported more depressive symptoms as a result of swipe-based dating app use, compared to 9 percent of the people surveyed who did not use a dating app. </p><p>"People who are currently using dating apps for a year or more were 3.5 times more likely to be distressed and 4 times more likely to report probable depression," Pit explains in an interview with <a href="https://www.globaldatinginsights.com/uncategorised/swipe-based-dating-apps-can-negatively-affect-mental-health-research-finds/" target="_blank">Global Dating Insights</a>. </p><p><strong>People are spending more and more time on dating apps. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/dating-apps-millenials-10-hours-per-week-tinder-bumble-romance-love-a8174006.html" target="_blank">A study of 5,000 people</a> between the ages of 18-30 years old shows that people are spending an average of 10 hours per week on dating apps alone. Men were logging on to check their status on dating apps 9 times a day, with women logging on 10 times per day to check their potential matches. How much time are they spending on these apps? Well, men were found to be spending 85 minutes per day on these apps, with women spending 79 minutes each day. </p><p>This amount of time spent on dating apps could boost the negative impacts we have seen through the study listed above.</p>
Are there benefits to using swipe-based dating apps?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxNjM2MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjcxNDE4N30.Ms2vb1IxunVRKds6AzXEVSWC9tUvoaSlKk0qEHYd2qQ/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C874%2C0%2C875&height=700" id="bf866" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="12bb0ad1095271a1dc83f2a157d52c4a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of online dating swipe-based dating apps mental health" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
It's not all bad - 40% of current swipe-based dating app users report a positive mental health impact from using these apps.
Image by Jambulart studio on Shutterstock<p>While the study proved that there are significant negative mental health risks that follow using swipe-based dating apps for longer periods of time, not all time spent on these apps is damaging.</p><p>"The findings highlight that dating apps with swiping functions have a complex impact on the psychological well-being of users," Pit explains. Although the findings of this study are worrisome, there are some benefits that were also highlighted in the results. </p><p><strong>Connections and serious relationships are being formed. </strong></p><p>Up to 40 percent of current swipe-based dating app users said they had previously entered a serious relationship with someone they met through one of these apps. 77 percent of people who reported using these apps also said they had met people face-to-face, with 26 percent of these people saying they had met more than 5 people through the apps.</p><p><strong>This connection with others leads to a positive impact on self-esteem. </strong></p><p>Meeting people, dating, and finding serious relationships through swipe-based dating apps has proven to have a positive impact on mental health as well, with up to 40 percent of individuals using these apps claiming it's had a positive impact on their self-esteem. </p><p><strong>Dating apps connect us with people we'd never meet otherwise. </strong></p><p>Back in 1995 when Match.com launched, there was <a href="https://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/dating/this-how-online-dating-changing-who-marry-unexpected-ways/cTWkpOjH1rGnJJNHm1irhN/" target="_blank">a spike in interracial marriages</a>. In today's society, these swipe-based dating apps allow you to browse based on where you are. If you move to a new city, your dating pool changes. The benefits of being able to connect with people we otherwise wouldn't meet is one of the best things dating apps have given us. </p><p><strong>Did you know that 70 percent of same-sex relationships start through dating apps? </strong></p><p>With the launch of Grindr in 2009, there was what can only be described as a <a href="https://www.stylight.com/Magazine/Lifestyle/Love-First-Swipe-Evolution-Online-Dating/" target="_blank">sexual revolution</a> within the LGBTQ+ community. Finding a partner became easier, safer, and more common. Not only was Grindr the first dating app that focused on the LGBTQ+ community, but it was also one of the first to use geolocation technology. </p><p>It's safe to say that digital dating isn't leaving us anytime soon, and neither is the use of swipe-based dating. There are negative and positive impacts of swipe-based dating apps on our mental health, but the questions is how can we increase the positive and decrease the negative? </p><p>The study by these two Australian universities isn't the first to question the mental health impact of dating apps. Back in 2017, <a href="https://www.globaldatinginsights.com/news/new-study-shows-tinder-affects-users-mental-health-self-esteem/" target="_blank">an unrelated study</a> linked the use of Tinder with negative self-esteem and body shame. </p><p>One of the researchers on the Australian-based study explains: "We are calling for app developers to take a more active role in the promotion of positive mental health messages, particularly on swipe-based dating applications." </p>
A new study finds an unexpected trait that young people want in a lifelong partner.
- A new study from the UK looked at dating preferences of 2,700 international students.
- The study found that kindness was the top trait preferred by both men and women in a lifelong partner.
- Looks, financial stability and a sense of humor were also important but with differences across cultures.
Have sexual interludes obscured the path to love?
- The majority of millennials are still unmarried by age 32.
- Susan Winter, a relationship expert based in New York City, says the culture of modern dating has had an impact.
- Among her tips for finding love? Act in accordance with what you said you want.
Portrait of the Poet Sabartes by Pablo Picasso, 1901–1902<p>The <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/student-debt-marriage-rate" target="_blank">results of recent studies</a> suggest that it could be because many millennials are in debt, especially from school loans. The shame and stigma of "being in the red" may be acting as a sort of weedkiller to budding love. For many young people — especially those who entered adulthood during the Great Recession — being on firm financial footing is a critical step toward starting a family. [See: <em><a href="https://bigthink.com/natalie-shoemaker/study-poverty-causes-physical-pain" target="_self">Being broke is no joke</a></em>]</p><p>However, is lack of money the sole reason? Humans have, en masse, been entering into marriage, and other forms of "serious" relationships, strapped of cash — without 401Ks or savings accounts or stock portfolios — for literally millennia. This said, could it be that millennials' delay in getting to love is due to more than a financial issue, as it's popularly singled out to be?</p>
What the expert says<p>According to some sex and relationship experts the phenomenon does transcend money, and is an issue heavily influenced by modern dating. Indeed, Susan Winter, one of New York's top relationship coaches says that online dating — the culture found on several apps, at least — has wreaked havoc on the emotional health of many millennials. "I've noted an underlying state of depression in the number of the millennials that first come to me for counseling," Winter says. "... 'Getting to love' has been especially daunting for this generation."</p><p>A stream of romantic disappointments, Winter says, has left many millennials jaded, in such a state that, though they may find a serious partnership/marriage compelling, it simply seems out of reach to them. In a sense, many are in a romantic blue period. "The wear and tear of sexual interludes resulting in being discarded, ghosted, or breadcrumbed takes its toll," she says. "Even those that exhibit supreme confidence in their careers suffer low self-esteem due to their erratic and unpredictable dating lives."</p><p>When you combine "sexual interludes" with the modern rule to avoid "rules" — despite the fact we're evolutionarily <em>social</em> creatures — a stream of disappointments is liable to become a river. "Millennial's have little structure to support their dating process and protocol. Having eliminated labels and rules, many are left adrift in a confused state of hookups and 'situationships,'" says Winter. "Therefore, getting to partnership holds a high value for them. Once the difficult task of partnership is obtained, its loss seems even more dismantling."</p>
Despite everything, it finds a way<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI2NzAwNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NjAxMjYxOH0.I8TP5Xqye69yYOeIva89THCk7UX-LFrtZUOUQhh4jB0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=464%2C592%2C563%2C525&height=700" id="d0c96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e9cea2b55823981aa1a443dcd5ae1ddf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Winter's six tips to overcome modern dating woes:<ul><li>Know what you want and need in a relationship.</li></ul><ul><li>Clearly articulate those wants and needs to your prospective partners.</li></ul><ul><li>Act in accordance with what you said you want.</li></ul><ul><li>Maintain clear and honest communication throughout the dating process.</li></ul><ul><li>Assess whether the relationship you're establishing meets the goals you want and need.</li></ul><ul><li>Affirmation.</li></ul>
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