Going on an app seems like the obvious choice if you’re single. Surely it’s an opportunity to cast the net wide, the best chance for the right relationship? Not so much. It might feel like the most efficient way of getting out there, but it’s more important than ever to understand the pitfalls.
Authentic dating coach and creator of the Groundwork – a 6-week course to transform your love life, Christina Macnamara explains why dating apps are BS! There are success stories out there for sure. The couple who are happily married after meeting through a dating app. But how often do these successes really happen?
The wrong kind of hit
You know that high you get when you check the dating app again or get a new notification? It’s the dopamine hit related to the anticipation of reward. But the initial – and most regular – high comes from checking the app and anticipating what you might find there.
The risk here is that the brain starts to develop a bond with the app. It feels like a positive thing but actually, it’s not especially fulfilling or healthy. To the brain, it’s much closer to a computer game (or a cigarette) than developing a human connection.
The efficiency illusion
Dating apps create an illusion of proactivity and efficiency, but it’s a false economy. There’s a reassuring sense of taking action, which seems better than just randomly ‘waiting’ for life to serve up a new partner. The reality is that almost all of the busyness is leading nowhere.
Track how long you actually spend on apps over a week. Track how you feel before, during and after. Track what makes you reach for the app. Write it all down for one week to get clear on what you’re really pouring into app-life.
It’s easy from behind a screen to think we can figure someone out in a second. To see a stream of images and profiles and make snap judgements about who people are.
What is missed out is the massive impact of body language, the full experience of getting to know someone over time and in real life. Better to spend the evening meeting possible new friends (who also might just have a friend) than sit on the sofa all night swiping and refreshing.
The ‘browsing’ mentality
Dating apps are designed to keep users hooked. They encourage a sense of having a shopping list for a relationship, where we can have search criteria that must be met in order to progress to the next level.
It’s good to have standards and needs but not a detailed shopping list of expectations. This is self-sabotage and it’s not realistic.
Make a list of three non-negotiables for you. Make them about who the person is rather than anything status-driven or externally-referenced (looks, salary, relationship experience). Or ditch the list entirely and go on gut feeling when you’re face-to-face.
Craft the process
The deal with dating is to keep an eye on the process. Is it enjoyable? Dating apps can actually make the experience of being single feel fraught. It’s important to create joyful experiences and healthy habits now. Not by going on endless dates or messaging loads of people, but by building a life in a good way.
Want to meet a certain kind of person? Start some new hobbies that will help you meet that kind of person. Building a daily experience that the kind of person you want to attract would belong in.