Are Online Dating Apps Addictive?
A lot of us download an online dating app looking for love. But what we may walk away with is an addiction.
For those of us searching for a partner online, dating apps can take up a staggering amount of our day. For instance, the average Tinder user logs onto the app about eleven times a day and spends almost an hour and a half daily searching for the perfect match.
Are dating apps addictive?
Is there a way to use online dating apps in a healthy way that can set the stage for meeting someone?
Here are a few reasons why online dating apps can be addictive, as well as some tips for healthy dating app usage.
Online dating apps are conveniently accessible
We take our phones everywhere these days. We use them to check messages, email, the weather, traffic, and our online dating profiles. Since your phone is often in your pocket or on your desk, it’s easy to do a “quick check” and see how your profile is looking.
But we all know that one “quick check” can easily turn into an hour of browsing profiles.
But if you find yourself checking your online dating app while stopped in traffic, in line at the grocery store, or when you’re bored, that may be a sign of online dating app addiction.
Want to create healthier habits for your online dating app use? Make it inconvenient to check your online dating app profiles for updates.
“We’re far more likely to do something if it’s convenient, and far less likely to do something if it’s inconvenient, to an astounding degree,” Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Now Than Before, writes.
Log out of your apps so that you have to type all of your usernames and passwords in before checking in on your profile. You can also disable your dating apps after a certain time of the day. Use the strategy of inconvenience to create healthy habits with your online dating apps.
There’s no end to the amount of apps available
There’s no shortage of online dating apps out there for downloading. You can download secular apps like Coffee Meets Bagel, OkCupid, Bumble, and Tinder. Or, you could go the faith-based dating app route and download apps like ours. But regardless what dating apps you choose, you’re not going to run out of options.
It can be tempting to download a wide range of apps. Maybe you downloaded them all just to try them out in the beginning. But if you’ve downloaded three or more apps and have active accounts on all of them, that may be a sign that you’re edging toward online dating app addiction.
Find yourself juggling more than a couple of dating apps at once? Pick one or two to focus on, and delete the rest. Limiting the amount of apps you feel the need to check in on regularly is one way to curb an unhealthy habit.
Dating apps and slot machines have more in common than you think
Natasha Dow Schüll is a cultural anthropologist who studies gambling addiction. She compares the design of dating apps to slot machines.
“You build up this anticipation,” she explained in an interview, “that anticipation grows and there is a kind of release of sorts when you get a reward: a jackpot, a ding-ding-ding, a match.”
“The parallels are in the way experience is formatted, delivering or not delivering rewards,” she continued. “If you don’t know what you’re going to get and when, then that brings about the most perseverating kinds of behavior, which are really the most addictive.”
Online dating apps are designed to make you think that you never know when you’ll meet a good match. It could be during one of your quick daily checks through messages. It may be at 2:00 am, or when you’re logging on first thing in the morning.
But that unknown factor, that ever elusive match that may be right around the corner today, is what keeps you coming back to those dating apps.
Online dating apps aren’t “good” or “bad” on their own merit. They’re simply a tool you can use to find love in the modern age. But just like any tool, you can use online dating apps in healthy or unhealthy way.
You’re more susceptible to app addiction if you’re lonely
If you struggle with loneliness as a Catholic single, you’re not alone. But you’re also much more likely to develop a dating app addiction.
In a study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers interviewed 269 undergraduate students who used online dating apps. They asked the students to describe their levels of loneliness and social anxiety. Researchers also asked them if they identified with statements such as “I am unable to reduce the amount of time I spend on dating apps.”
What the research revealed was that students who could be described as socially anxious or lonely were more than likely to want to meet a potential match online instead of in person.
Being lonely or experiencing social anxiety didn’t mean the students were automatically addicted to online dating apps. But it did lend to “significant” dating app usage in comparison to students who didn’t describe themselves as lonely or socially anxious.
Being single can be frustrating, especially when it seems as if God is calling you to marriage, but forgot to call your spouse! During these times, we need to turn to God.
As you navigate Catholic online dating services and discern God’s will, try praying these four prayers in your heart.
Yes, you can use online dating apps in a healthy way
We want to equip you with an app designed specifically for Catholic singles looking for love.
Want to try out our online dating app for Catholics? The Catholic Singles app is easy to use and puts the emphasis on meeting others based on who they are rather than how well they can take a profile picture.
Whether God leads you to that special someone right away or he asks you to continue being patient, you’ll feel like a part of a supportive community of people who understand and share the values you live with every day.
Chloe Langr is a very short stay-at-home-wife, whose growth has probably been stunted by the inhumane amounts of coffee she regularly consumes. When she is not buried in a growing stack of books, she can be found spending time with her husband, geeking out over Theology of the Body, or podcasting. You can find more about her on her blog "Old Fashioned Girl."