The onset of social media has given millions of people around the world the ability to meet one another instantly and effortlessly without physically being there. This is a major convenience as it increases the amount of dating options one may have. However, there are also disadvantages to dating online. As convenient as dating apps may be, they also expose people to a host of dangers they might not have to deal with in traditional dating
Distrust & Deceit
Unfortunately, people can lie much more easily about who they are on dating apps. People can even go so far as to use a photo of someone else and claim to be them. This is sometimes referred to as “catfishing.” Some dating profiles are set up to purposefully trick people. I have heard countless stories about people being disappointed and even angered upon realizing that the person they met looks 15 years older than their profile picture, or perhaps forty pounds heavier, or four inches shorter. That is certainly not a good way to start a date. And sadly for the person being lied to, this can have an adverse effect on how they view the world or make them cynical about people in general.
Impact on Self-esteem
Dating apps can become a way to compare oneself to others unfavorably. Unfortunately, the perfect people that dating profiles often show may not exist anywhere other than in a photoshopped photo. Regardless, browsing “the competition” on a dating site can feed the fears of not being enough or being unlovable, and increase anxiety and insecurity. Negative feedback or lack of interest on sites like these can also cut into a person’s self-image. When people consciously and subconsciously open themselves to external validation in this way it promotes what I call other-referencing, or a tendency to elevate others’ opinions to a place of authority. To be emotionally healthy and happy, we need to work to develop greater self-referencing, being true to ourselves regardless of how it may play out with others on or offline.
All it takes is one swipe to be rejected. And it is easy to simply choose to ignore messages. It can feel degrading to have your requests to connect rejected or ignored. Repeated rejection can take a major toll on one’s self esteem and create a sense of being disposable. On these online apps, physical appearance is the primary focus. This leads people to believe they have to conform to certain societal expectations in order to get attention. The fact that people are often easily rejected based on looks alone can make them question their value in general. Naturally it is important to feel attracted to your partner, but physical appearance isn’t what makes relationships work. In my opinion, physical appearance is less important than authenticity, presence, individuality, kindness and strong sense of self.
This is not to say that dating apps are bad, per say. They can be great for individuals with busier work lives and hectic schedules that don’t have a lot of free time to meet new people. However, it’s important to proceed with caution. Try to take it with a grain of salt and focus on having fun with it rather than taking it all too seriously. And remember, who you are is much more than what can be captured on a dating app profile.