Why Are Dating Apps So Toxic?

It’s tough to meet new people in person. Sometimes it feels like dating apps are the only way to go if you want to add new blood to your social circle, but let’s be real: dating apps can be toxic. They’re terrible for your self-esteem and even contribute to feelings of jadedness. Here’s why they’re sometimes best avoided, at least for a little while before you jump back into the game.

  1. People hide behind screens. Everyone’s a hero behind a screen. People have the confidence to be braver, louder, and more arrogant than if they’re standing in front of you. With this in mind, research has found that six out of 10 women under the age of 35 who’ve used dating apps or dating websites have said people continued to contact them even after they made it clear they weren’t interested. Yikes. Sadly, people who do this think they can get away with it when they’re hiding behind their iPhone or Android screens.
  2. You end up with false connections. There you were, thinking you and the person you were chatting to for weeks (weeks, dammit!) had something good going. Then, you find you’ve been blocked, completely out of the blue. Or, they don’t block you but they ghost you, never responding to your last message asking how their day was. Talk about bullets.
  3. There are tons of nasty profiles. You don’t have to search far and wide to find some nasty AF profiles on dating apps. Whether it’s guys posing with animals they’ve hunted (come on, enough with the fish) or mentioning in their bios that they don’t want feminists or “ugly women,” it’s enough to make you want to get out of the dating scene forever.
  4. The same people keep coming around. If you took a break from app dating and then went back on months later, only to see the same old profiles grinning up at you, it’s enough to make you feel depressed. I mean, all those people trying so hard to find someone and they’re just not getting what they want? Ugh. You might fear that you’re going to end up like them.
  5. Swiping boosts feelings of rejection. While swiping might be fun at first, it’s no fun when you’re swiping right on guys and they’re not returning the favor. It can make you feel like you’re not going to match with anyone. Obviously this isn’t true, but in the bubble of dating apps, every rejection can feel like a massive hit to your confidence.
  6. Dating apps are shallow. Who really checks out your bio in detail? Sometimes it feels like dating app users just swipe based on your profile pic. If you’ve ever experienced chatting to someone who matched with you but then asked you things that were clearly mentioned in your bio (um, read much?), you’ll know what I mean.
  7. You’ll experience at least one dead-end chat. You know the kind: you’re chatting with someone, things seem hopeful, you might end up meeting… then suddenly things start to fizzle. Or, the chats are still interesting and consistent but the person never asks you out. They’re just on the dating app to chat and pass the time. Ugh. Meanwhile, they’re wasting your time.

More reasons dating apps are so toxic

  1. Dating apps boost your risk of depression. If you feel down after spending some time on a dating app, you’re not alone. A study found that people who use swipe-based dating apps for over a year are more likely to experience depression. It makes sense because dating apps are filled with rejection and can make you doubt it you’re a good match.
  2. You don’t know who’s on the other side of the screen. As much as you might think you’re connecting with someone, you can never know 100% if they’re who they say they are. Their pictures might sort of be what they look like, unless they’ve pulled them from a seven-year archive on their device and filtered the heck out of them. Ugh. Or, they might be pretending to be what you want so that you fall for them.
  3. Dating apps can cause dating burnout. The thing about dating apps is that they’re addictive. The more you swipe, the more you want to. Even if you’re not a big swiper, you might like to check into the dating app multiple times a day to see if you’ve got any messages or matches. All this activity can cause burnout from all your bingeing on the app. It’s exhausting.
  4. It takes you away from your life. Linked to the above point, the time you spend on dating apps is time you could be spending doing other things that bring you joy, like hanging out with your cats, watching your favorite Netflix series, and catching up with loved ones.
  5. There are way too many options. Although it sometimes feels like there are zero viable options on dating apps, the truth is that it can also feel like you’re dealing with too many options that are being thrown at you all the time. You get to “meet” lots of people at once which wouldn’t happen IRL on a daily basis. But, the downside of this is that it also feels like everyone is disposable. You can chat and chuck people out in the blink of an eye – but this happens to you too.
  6. Dating apps can warp your body image. Since you’re being rated according to how you look, this can make you pay more attention to your physical attributes to try to get more swipes. But it’s toxic. Research has found that Tinder users are more likely to have a worse body image than non-users since actively using the app has been linked to body shame and dissatisfaction, as well as the internalization of societal beauty standards. Hey, it also doesn’t help if you’re comparing yourself to other women you see on dating apps.
  7. Dating apps make you feel like there are no good guys left. When you’re getting lewd messages in your inbox almost daily or seeing such arrogant jerks everywhere you turn, it’s easy to start to feel like there are no good guys left in the world. It’s hard to remove that feeling from the reality that there are still good people left, which is why it’s healthy to take a step back from dating apps so that they don’t mess with your head.
  8. Dating apps are a predator playground. Shockingly, in a study of 1,200 women who used dating apps over a period of 15 years, over one-third of them had been sexually assaulted by someone they met on a dating app, and over half of the women said they’d been raped. Take care out there, ladies.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.