How to Use Dating Apps Without Hurting Your Mental Health, According to Experts
A t this point, there’s little dispute that dating apps work. Research has found that the quality of relationships that start online is not fundamentally different from those that start in person, and 59% of respondents to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey said dating apps and websites are “a good way to meet people.”
Good as it may be for your love life, though, swiping isn’t always all fun and games. Here’s how dating apps may be affecting your mental health – and how to use them in a smarter way.
Dating apps may hurt self-esteem
In a 2016 study, Tinder users were found to have lower self-esteem and more body image issues than non-users. The study didn’t prove that Tinder actually causes these effects, but co-author Trent Petrie, a professor of psychology at the University of North Texas, says these issues are a risk for users of any social media network that prompts “evaluative” behaviors. (A representative from Tinder did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.)
“When we as human beings are represented simply by what we look like, we start to look at ourselves in a very similar way: as an object to be evaluated,” Petrie says.
To counter that effect, Petrie says it’s important to keep perspective. “Go into this framing it like, ‘Theyre going to evaluate me this way. That doesnt define who I am,’” Petrie suggests. “Surround yourself with people who know you, support you and value you for all your various qualities.” Petrie says it may also help to build a profile that showcases a variety of your interests and pastimes, rather than one focused solely on physical appearance.
Keely Kolmes, a California psychologist who specializes in sex and relationship issues, also suggests book-ending your app use with healthy activities, such as exercise or social interaction, to avoid getting dragged down. (more…)