I’ll never forget the day I met Jake. He was everything I was looking for in a partner: smart, funny, handsome, and adventurous. We matched on Tinder and hit it off right away. He asked me out for coffee and we had a great time. He was charming, attentive, and respectful. He even paid for my latte and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I was smitten.
But then, something strange happened. As soon as I got home, I opened Tinder again and started swiping. I don’t know why I did it. Maybe I was bored, curious, or insecure. Maybe I wanted to see if there was someone better out there. Maybe I just wanted to feel that rush of dopamine again.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was hooked on dating apps. And I’m not alone. According to a recent study, more than 40% of online daters admit to using dating apps compulsively, even when they’re not looking for a relationship. And it’s not hard to see why. Dating apps are designed to be addictive, using the same psychological tricks as gambling machines to lure us in and keep us coming back for more.
In this article, I’ll explain how dating apps use these features to manipulate us and what we can do to break free from their grip. Because trust me, you don’t want to end up like me: swiping endlessly, missing out on real connections, and feeling empty and unhappy.
Swipe Right, Swipe Left, Swipe Yourself Into a Mess
Let’s be honest: swiping on dating apps is fun. It’s like a game, where you get to judge people based on their photos and bios, and hope they do the same for you. It’s easy, quick, and exciting. But it’s also a sneaky way to mess with your mind.
Swiping is like gambling, where you never know when you’re going to hit the jackpot. And when you do, like when you get a match or a message, your brain goes crazy with dopamine, the feel-good chemical that makes you want more. And more. And more.
That’s how they get you hooked on the app. You swipe because you think you’ll find your soulmate. You feel a thrill when you do. And then you crave more. You become addicted to checking your matches, messages, and notifications. You waste hours on the app, swiping through endless profiles, looking for the one.
But here’s the problem: the more you swipe, the worse you feel. Because swiping also gives you too many choices, and that makes you confused and unhappy. You become too picky and mean, dumping people for silly reasons. You become too anxious and insecure, wondering if you’re missing out on someone better. You become too cold and rude, treating people like trash.
I know this because I’ve been there. I used to swipe like crazy, hoping to find my prince charming. But instead of finding love, I found myself feeling lonely and miserable. I realized that swiping was not helping me find a real connection; it was stopping me from having one.
The Illusion of Choice
Another addictive feature of dating apps is the illusion of choice. You know how it works: you have access to thousands of potential matches, and you can filter them by age, location, height, hobbies, and more. It sounds great, right? You have so many options, and you can find your perfect match.
But it’s also a trap. Having too many choices is not a good thing. It makes you feel overwhelmed and paralyzed. It makes you doubt yourself and your decisions. It makes you unhappy and dissatisfied.
This is because of a phenomenon called choice overload, which is the same thing that happens when you go to a supermarket and see hundreds of brands of cereal or toothpaste. You think you’ll be happier if you have more options, but you end up feeling stressed and regretful.
That’s what dating apps do to you. They give you too many options, and that makes you unhappy. You become too indecisive and fickle, swiping left on people who could be great for you. You become too perfectionist and unrealistic, looking for someone who doesn’t exist. You become too restless and bored, always wondering what else is out there.
I know this because I’ve been there. I used to filter my matches by the most ridiculous criteria, like their zodiac sign or their favorite movie. I used to swipe left on people who were not exactly my type, even if they seemed nice and interesting. I used to get bored of people after a few messages or dates, always looking for someone new and exciting.
But instead of finding choice, I found chaos. I realized that dating apps were not helping me find my ideal partner; they were making me lose sight of what really matters.
How Dating Apps Lure You Back
Another sneaky feature of dating apps is how they lure you back, even when you think you’re done with them. You know how it works: you find someone you like, you start dating, and you delete the app. You’re happy, right? Wrong.
Dating apps don’t want you to be happy. They want you to be addicted. They want you to come back to them, even if you have a partner. And they have ways to make you do it.
One way is by promoting your profile to other users, even when you’re inactive. This means that you’ll get more matches and messages, which will show up as notifications on your phone. And when you see those notifications, you’ll feel curious and tempted to check them out. You’ll wonder who these people are, what they want from you, and if they’re better than your partner.
Another way is by sending you emails or push notifications with enticing offers, such as free boosts, super likes, or premium features. These are designed to make you feel special and valued, and to make you miss the excitement of the app. They’ll also remind you of all the potential matches that are waiting for you, just a swipe away.
These tactics are based on the principle of scarcity, which is the same technique used by marketers and salespeople to create a sense of urgency and desire. It means that when something is rare or limited, we want it more. And when we think we might lose it, we try to get it back.
That’s what dating apps do to you. They make you feel like you’re missing out on something, and that you need to come back to them. They make you doubt your partner and your relationship. They make you unhappy and dissatisfied.
I know this because I’ve been there. I used to delete the app whenever I started dating someone, but I always got lured back by the notifications and offers. I used to check my matches and messages behind my partner’s back, feeling guilty and ashamed. I used to compare my partner to other people on the app, feeling unhappy and ungrateful.
But instead of finding happiness, I found trouble. I realized that dating apps were not helping me find a lasting relationship; they were ruining it.
How to Break Free from Dating App Addiction
So, you’ve realized that you’re addicted to dating apps, and you want to do something about it. Good for you! That’s the first step to recovery. But how do you actually quit or reduce your dating app usage, and find a real and healthy relationship?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are some tips and advice that helped me and others overcome dating app addiction and find love in the real world.
- Delete the app. This might sound obvious, but it’s the most effective way to stop using dating apps. If you don’t have the app on your phone, you can’t swipe, match, or message anyone. You’ll also free up some space and battery life on your device. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better without the app constantly tempting and distracting you.
- Turn off notifications. If you’re not ready to delete the app completely, at least turn off the notifications. This way, you won’t see the messages, matches, or offers that the app sends you to lure you back. You’ll also reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with checking your phone all the time. You’ll be more present and focused on your life and your relationships.
- Set limits or goals. If you still want to use dating apps, but in a more healthy and moderate way, you can set some limits or goals for yourself. For example, you can limit yourself to swiping for 10 minutes a day, or only using the app on weekends. Or you can set a goal to go on one date a week, or to delete the app after meeting someone you like. This way, you’ll have more control over your dating app usage and avoid getting sucked into the endless swiping cycle.
- Find other hobbies or activities. One of the reasons why people use dating apps is because they’re bored or lonely. But there are so many other things you can do to fill your time and meet your needs. You can find a hobby that interests you, such as reading, writing, cooking, or gardening. You can join a club or a class that teaches you something new, such as yoga, dancing, or painting. You can volunteer for a cause that matters to you, such as animal shelter, food bank, or environmental group. You can also spend more time with your friends and family, who love and support you.
- Seek professional help if needed. Sometimes, dating app addiction can be a symptom of a deeper issue, such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, or trauma. If that’s the case for you, you might need some professional help to deal with it. There’s nothing wrong with seeking therapy or counseling if you need it. It can help you understand yourself better, heal your wounds, and improve your mental health and well-being.
The Bottom Line
Dating apps can be a great way to meet new people and find love, but they can also have some drawbacks. They can make you swipe obsessively, overwhelm you with choices, and tempt you to come back when you’re happy. They can make you unhappy and dissatisfied with yourself and your relationships.
But you don’t have to let dating apps ruin your love life. You can use them in a smart and healthy way, and find a real and lasting relationship. You can delete the app when you find someone you like, turn off notifications when you’re busy, set limits or goals when you’re swiping, find other hobbies or activities when you’re bored, and seek professional help if you need it.
You deserve to be happy and loved. And you can find it with or without a dating app.
So what are you waiting for? Swipe right on dating apps, but swipe right on life too.