The dark side of dating apps

Dating apps can be a great way to meet new people, but they can also be a source of frustration and disappointment. If you’ve ever used one, you probably know what I’m talking about. You swipe right on someone who looks cute and has a witty bio, and you get excited when you see that you’ve matched. You start chatting and you feel a connection. Maybe you even exchange phone numbers and make plans to meet up. But then, things go downhill.

I once matched with someone who seemed really great, but when we met in person, he was completely different from his profile. He was much shorter than he had said, and he was also very rude and arrogant. He spent the whole date talking about himself and his achievements, and he barely asked me anything about myself. He also kept checking his phone and texting other people. It was obvious that he had no interest in me, and I felt like I had wasted my time.

I’ve also had people send me unsolicited messages that were sexually suggestive or even threatening. Some of them were very graphic and vulgar, and they made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. I’ve also had people ghost me after we had a few good conversations. They would stop replying to my messages or block me without any explanation. This is always disappointing, and it can make it hard to trust people on dating apps. These are the problems that I’ve faced with dating apps, and maybe you have too:

They promote superficial or short-term relationships

One of the problems with dating apps is that they promote superficial or short-term relationships. Many dating apps are based on a “swipe” model, where users quickly scroll through profiles and make quick judgments based on a person’s appearance or a short bio. This can lead to a culture of superficiality, where people are more focused on finding someone who looks good on paper than finding someone with whom they have a genuine connection. For example, I once spent hours swiping through profiles on Tinder, only to match with a handful of people who never responded to my messages. It was a huge time suck, and I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of it. Another time, I matched with a man on Bumble who seemed really great on paper. But when we started talking, I realized that he was looking for something very different than I was. We had different interests, different values, and different goals. It was a waste of time to keep talking to him, because we were never going to be compatible.

They create unrealistic expectations

Another problem with dating apps is that they create unrealistic expectations. Dating apps can give users access to a vast pool of potential partners, which can be overwhelming. This can lead to a sense of FOMO, where people feel pressured to constantly swipe and message in order to avoid missing out on a “perfect” match. This can also create unrealistic expectations, where people believe they can find the perfect partner with just a few swipes or clicks. For example, I once matched with someone who seemed perfect for me. He was handsome, smart, funny, and had a great job. We had a lot in common, and we had great chemistry online. However, when we met in person, he turned out to be nothing like his profile. He was boring, rude, and had bad hygiene. He also lied about his age and his marital status. I felt cheated and angry. Another time, I had high hopes for someone I met on Hinge. He was charming, witty, and attentive. He asked me thoughtful questions and gave me thoughtful answers. He seemed genuinely interested in me as a person, not just as a potential hookup. However, after we went on a few dates, he suddenly stopped texting me back. He ghosted me without any explanation or closure. I felt hurt and confused.

They contribute to feelings of loneliness or dissatisfaction

A third problem with dating apps is that they contribute to feelings of loneliness or dissatisfaction. Despite having access to a large pool of potential partners, many people find that dating apps don’t lead to meaningful connections. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction, as people may feel like they are constantly searching for something that is just out of reach. For example, I met a guy on another dating app. We matched and started talking, and we hit it off really well. We talked for a few days before we decided to meet up in person. We went on a few dates, and we had a lot of fun together. However, after a few weeks, I started to feel like the relationship was becoming more and more casual. We were only talking to each other when we were making plans to hang out, and we weren’t really getting to know each other on a deeper level. I eventually realized that he wasn’t interested in a serious relationship, and I decided to end things. I think that the reason why this relationship didn’t last was because it started on a dating app. Dating apps are designed to make it easy to meet new people and to have casual hookups. There is no pressure to commit to anything serious, and people are more likely to be upfront about their intentions. Another time, I’ve been using dating apps for a long time, and I’ve never found anyone who really made me happy. I’ve had some good dates and some bad dates, but none of them led to anything lasting or meaningful. I’ve also had a lot of matches that never turned into conversations, or conversations that never turned into dates. I feel like I’m always swiping and messaging, but never finding what I’m looking for. I feel like I’m missing out on something, but I don’t know what it is.

They can be unsafe

A fourth problem with dating apps is that they can be unsafe. Dating apps can be a breeding ground for harassment, abuse, and catfishing. People may misrepresent themselves or their intentions, and it can be difficult for users to verify the identity of someone they are communicating with. Additionally, dating apps have been criticized for not doing enough to protect their users from harassment and abuse. For example, I’ve had people send me unsolicited messages that were sexually suggestive or even threatening. Some of them were very graphic and vulgar, and they made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Another time, I’ve had people lie about who they are or what they want from me. Some of them used fake photos or profiles, and some of them pretended to be someone else entirely. Some of them tried to scam me out of money or personal information, and some of them tried to blackmail me or manipulate me.

They can be a waste of time

A fifth problem with dating apps is that they can be a waste of time. With so many people on dating apps, it can be difficult to stand out and get noticed. This can lead to a lot of time spent messaging and swiping, with little to show for it. Additionally, people may find that their matches don’t lead to actual dates or relationships. For example, I’ve spent a lot of time crafting witty messages and bios, hoping to catch someone’s attention. However, most of the time, I don’t get any responses or matches. It feels like I’m putting in a lot of effort for nothing. Another time, I’ve had a lot of matches that seemed promising at first, but then fizzled out quickly. Sometimes they would stop replying after a few messages, sometimes they would cancel plans at the last minute, and sometimes they would just disappear without a trace. It feels like I’m wasting my time on people who don’t care about me.

They can be addictive

A sixth problem with dating apps is that they can be addictive. The constant notifications and instant gratification of getting a match can be addictive. People may find themselves spending hours swiping and messaging, even when they don’t really want or need to. This can lead to neglecting other important aspects of life, such as work, school, or personal relationships. For example, I’ve become obsessed with checking my phone for new matches or messages. I can’t focus on anything else, and I get anxious if I don’t get any notifications. I feel like I need to keep swiping and messaging in order to feel good about myself. Another time, I’ve neglected my friends and family because of my dating app addiction. I’ve skipped social events, missed deadlines, and ignored calls and texts because I was too busy swiping and messaging. I feel like I’ve lost touch with the real world.

They can be a strain on mental health

Another problem with dating apps is that they can be a strain on mental health. The constant searching, swiping, and messaging can take a toll on people’s mental health. It can lead to feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem, as people may start to feel like there is something wrong with them if they aren’t getting matches or messages. For example, I’ve often felt insecure and unattractive when I saw other people getting more matches or messages than me. I started to compare myself to others and wonder what I was doing wrong. I also felt like I had to change myself or my preferences in order to fit in with what others wanted. Another time, the constant rejection that comes with online dating can be emotionally draining. I’ve had many people ignore me, unmatch me, or ghost me after we had a good conversation. I’ve also had people say rude or hurtful things to me, or reject me for superficial reasons. I felt like I was not good enough for anyone, and I started to lose hope of finding love.

They are not suitable for everyone

A final problem with dating apps is that they are not suitable for everyone, especially for those who are shy or introverted, or those who have difficulty with online communication. Additionally, people with certain disabilities or health conditions may find that dating apps are not accessible to them. For example, I’m a very shy and introverted person, and I find it hard to initiate or maintain conversations online. I often struggle with finding the right words to say, or expressing my personality and emotions through text. I also get nervous and anxious when I have to meet someone in person for the first time. I feel like I have to put on a mask and pretend to be someone else. Another time, I have a friend who has a hearing impairment, and he finds it difficult to use dating apps. He says that many dating apps don’t have features that cater to his needs, such as captions, subtitles, or sign language options. He also says that many people are not aware of his condition, and they may assume that he is rude or uninterested when he doesn’t respond to their messages or calls.

The Bottom Line

Dating apps can be fun and convenient, but they can also be a source of frustration and disappointment. They can make you feel like you have endless options, but they can also make you feel like you have no options at all. They can help you find someone who shares your interests, but they can also make you settle for someone who doesn’t. They can make you feel connected, but they can also make you feel lonely.

The truth is, dating apps are not for everyone. They have their pros and cons, and they may not suit your personality, preferences, or goals. You need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and challenges that come with online dating, and decide whether they are worth it for you.

So before you swipe right or left, ask yourself: Do I really want to use dating apps? What am I looking for? What are the risks and benefits? How will it affect my mental health and well-being? Is there a better way to meet people?

Remember, dating apps are just tools. They are not magic solutions. They are not the only way to find love. And they are definitely not the only way to be happy.

But don’t lose hope. Dating apps can still work for you, if you use them wisely and responsibly. You can still find someone who matches your criteria and expectations, if you are honest and realistic. You can still form meaningful connections, if you are respectful and attentive. You can still have fun and enjoy yourself, if you are safe and careful.

The most important thing is to be yourself, and to be open to new experiences and opportunities. You never know when or where you might find your soulmate.

So go ahead and swipe if you want to, but don’t forget to be smart and selective. You might just find what you’re looking for.

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