Online dating makes millions of love interests available to us at the touch of our fingertips.
With a simple swipe or message, you can set yourself up on a date with someone within 24 hours.
These websites and apps can make happiness seem so accessible when potential dates are available at the click of a button.
But it turns out that such convenience can actually make us be sadder.
Studies suggest that online dating and dating apps can make people feel more insecure about their appearance and bodies – and even become depressed.
Studies suggest that online dating and dating apps can make people feel more insecure and depressed
Tinder, the most-used dating app in the US, generates 1.6 billion swipes per day, resulting in one million dates per week.
Veteran dating site Match.com, started in 1995, has more than 7.4 million paid subscribers, an increase from 3.4 million in 2014, according to data research website Statista.com.
And OKCupid, which started up in 2004, has an estimated one million active users today and is the third-most popular dating app on the market.
Online dating has lost much of its stigma with 59 percent of Americans thinking it’s a good way to meet people, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center.
Additionally, 15 percent of American adults report that they have used online dating sites and/or mobile dating apps, up from 11 percent in 2013.
But along with all the excitement that comes with agreeing to meet up with someone for a date can come some heartbreak too.
Think about swiping ‘like’ on someone’s profile, but they don’t reciprocate, or sending a message to someone that goes unanswered. You can easily end up feeling rejected.
Rejection hurts and not just emotionally. Studies have shown that the same areas of the brain that become activated when we experience physical pain are also activated when we experience rejection.
The anterior insula is the region of the brain that interprets distress, which is also experiences activity when we feel rejected.
Rejection can also cause surges of aggression and anger. In 2001, the Surgeon General of the US issued a report stating that rejection was a greater risk for adolescent violence than poverty, drugs or gang membership.
‘Of course, emotional pain is only one of the ways rejections impact our well-being,’ psychologist Dr Guy Winch said during his December 2015 TED Talk.
‘Indeed, our natural response to being dumped by a dating partner or getting picked last for a team is not just to lick our wounds but to become intensely self-critical. We call ourselves names, lament our shortcomings, and feel disgusted with ourselves.
‘In other words, just when our self-esteem is hurting most, we go and damage it even further. Doing so is emotionally unhealthy and psychologically self-destructive yet every single one of us has done it at one time or another.’
A 2016 study at the University of North Texas compared 100 users of Tinder with more than 1,000 non-users – all college-age students – to examine the dating app’s effect on psychosocial well-being.
The men were asked to rate their body satisfaction, in categories such as ‘muscularity of arms’, ‘leanness of stomach’ and overall body build. Women rated seven parts of their body, including their hips and thighs, and four categories for their face, including complexion.
The researchers found that Tinder users were less satisfied with their face and body, felt more shame about their body and were more likely to compare their appearance to others, when compared with non-users.
Yet the process can feel addicting. According to a Match.com survey, one in six singles say they feel addicted to the process of looking for a date.
‘Dating apps are basically slot machines – there’s the promise that you’re going to find something good, and every once in a while you get a little positive reinforcement to keep going,’ David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, told Vice.