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03/20/2023 “Finding Happily-Ever-After on Dating Apps and Have Your Mental Health Survive”

By Kaylee McGrath

As a follow up to previous articles I wrote and published in 2022, I wanted to go deeper into the effects of dating apps on your mental health, and tips on how to protect your mental health. I rejoined a dating app for the second time with signing up for a 3-month subscription in late November 2022. I was able to take my experiences both good and bad under consideration to try once again to find a nice man to date and hopefully build a meaningful relationship with. At first, I thought I was having better success the second time around, but in the end, many of my new matches ended up to be just the same types of men, like the first time. I decided to delete the app one week prior to the end of the 3-months subscription. I did go on one to three dates with six men that I met during late November 2022 until early February 2023. In total between both subscriptions, I had approximately over 100 + matches that included several text conversations that fizzled out rather quickly, others lasting longer, and then grew friendships by connecting with various social media and exchanging phone numbers. As far as actual dates including both subscriptions, I met in person 47 men and only 17 went past the first date. I am pleased to share that I have built a few close platonic friendships with several men and enjoy their company occasionally for either breakfast, lunch, dinner, going to the movies, museums, and art galleries. To date there have been only three men that I do have a very strong connection with, but I have not found my prince charming yet. Therefore, my search will continue, but I have a feeling I might be getting close…so stay tuned! Most importantly, I still believe in full disclosure so everyone I’ve met from the app or on other social media, knows I have a disability and manage my challenges every day. I’ve been told by many of my matches that I have accomplished so much having a disability and have a tremendous amount of ambition and determination. Many of these men have stated, ambition and determination are very hard to find nowadays…specifically in women (their words, not mine).

Why Use Dating Apps?

They are used typically as a more convenient way than trying to meet someone the old fashion way…(IRL) “In Real Life.” My experience has been, they’re not a miracle solution for finding love but you could find good friendships if the other person is willing to be open about being a platonic friend with the opposite sex. With the many apps available out there they come with their fair share of problems for both men and women.

Some Of the Problems Are:

1. Women who want to date men will often have to deal with an enormous amount of connection requests and online harassment of direct sexual language, middle of the night messaging, or pushiness for hooking up for sex

2. Women have serious competition with other women who may have profile pictures that are overly revealing, or direct specific language written in their profile bio or in their messaging

3. Men who want to date women, on the other hand, tend to face serious competition and try too hard and in the end, become obnoxious with useless talk and wanting a full account of what you did during the day even before you have a chance to meet in person

4. Men and women seem to try increasing their chances of success by requesting to connect or liking as many profile pictures as possible and then face being ignored or ghosted

No matter how you look at it, dating can be difficult, exhausting, add to your anxiety, depression, and can sometimes compromise your self-esteem.

The Challenges of Dating Apps

Dating apps tend to increase problems that exist in traditional dating, for example:

• The initial attraction tends to be surface-level

• People judge potential matches by their photos, often within seconds

• If you don’t get any requests to connect, or if your requests are rejected, it can really harm your self-esteem

• The choices can be overwhelming, so how do you decide who to connect with?

• How can you tell who’s worth talking to and how do you avoid wasting time chatting with too many different people?

The Exhausting Process

• You start with casual chatting, then you both need to feel a connection, and then it’s a whole new ballgame when you meet in person

• Some people don’t live up to your expectations face-to-face, which can be confusing and disappointing

• There’s a high rejection rate. With so many potential matches at every user’s fingertip, there are more people to consider and more to reject or ignore

• Even when you think things are going well, the other person could decide to break it off when you least expect it or, even worse, never respond again

How Dating Apps Affect Your Mental Health

• When it comes to dating, both through apps and in person, our gut feelings usually rule. We can try to be logical and practical about it, but in the end, our desires and emotions tend to drive our thoughts and actions

• If all you want is to find someone you really like and have them like you back, it can be difficult to manage your thoughts and emotions

Listed Below Are Some of My Experiences. Maybe They Are Common Experiences and Familiar to You as Well?

• Worrying about how my profile and bio is being judged by others

• Feeling anxious about initiating contact with someone

• Becoming obsessed with looking for new matches or checking messages

• Wondering when a match might be reading my message and replying

• Questioning whether someone is being truthful about who they are

• Fantasizing about the type of person you want someone to be when you finally meet them in real life

• Understanding every rejection or lack of response as a sign if there is something wrong with me or my profile

• Worrying about saying the wrong thing to the person or about how your messages are being understood

• Stressing about whether who I’m talking to and like is talking to anyone else and multiple matches that might be better than me

• Wondering if there’s enough chemistry to justify meeting in person

• Struggling with social anxiety when thinking about or planning to meet in person

• Feeling burnt out from the endless cycle of browsing, swiping, matching, messaging, and meeting in person

In a recent study of a well-known swipe-based dating app, researchers found that people who used various apps reported higher levels of anxiety, depression, and emotional distress than people who didn’t use them. Another study found that people who struggled with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression were more likely to use dating apps, but they were also less likely to initiate contact with a match or wait a while to try to connect.

I Found This Information Online, on How to Protect Your Mental Health on Dating Apps

1. There’s a lot you can’t control when you’re dating. Everyone’s emotions are at stake, and even the most level-headed people can be thrown for a loop.

2. You may not be able to avoid negative experiences, but you can prepare yourself to manage them in a safe and healthy way.

Here’s Where You Can Start:

1. Be honest about why you want to join a dating app. It may be because you’re looking for deeper connections, or it could stem from loneliness and boredom

2. Develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. The more comfortable and confident you feel about yourself, the stronger and healthier relationships you’ll tend to attract. You’ll also be able to handle judgment or rejection in a healthier way

3. Set limits on how much time you spend swiping and messaging. Instead of trying to keep up conversations with as many matches as possible, draw the line at a specific limit: Say three or four at a time. Disable app notifications on your phone to avoid getting distracted during the day, and schedule a block of time to browse and reply to messages

4. Meet up in person as soon as you feel comfortable. After chatting with someone on a dating app, we tend to be worse at figuring out whether we’re going to like them in person. Instead of dragging it out, ask to meet up as soon as you think it’s a good and safe idea. That way you can avoid wasting too much of each other’s time and energy if there’s no spark

5. Take breaks when things don’t work out. If you end up parting ways with a match you had high hopes for, take time to rest, reflect, and reconnect with yourself. This will help you avoid burnout and give you the opportunity to reassess your dating strategy

Closing Statement:

It can happen finding companionship, love, and meaningful relationships on dating apps. I’ve been told you must have faith in the process and yourself and it can and will take a while for positive connections to happen. For me so far, being on a dating app has been a self-learning and often a heartbreaking experience. It can also be possible that all of us have a lot to learn about ourselves, relationships, what we really want, have time to build self-confidence, and life in general before doors can successfully open for you. It is also very difficult having a disability, getting yourself out there to finally meet matches in person, and to show them you are just fine and have uniqueness and special qualities to give and share. I suggest if you feel overwhelmed by dating apps or unsure of what you want from your next relationship, consider talking to a therapist or adding your dating experiences to your weekly sessions for guidance and support. Therapists will work with you to uncover and resolve any issues you’re dealing with. Then you can reenter and continue with the dating world from a more mentally and emotionally stable place, just like ME!

Source of Information: Personal Experiences and Online Research

Until Next Week, Stay Safe and Well!

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