Online dating apps have become all the rage, especially among college students. Just swipe to the right on people who you find attractive, get your match, start a banter of flirtatious messages and you can meet up with someone in your area that very day.
The process appears fairly seamless compared to conventional dating methods. As college students, we are surrounded by thousands of other students on campus, and dating apps make it simple to narrow down our potential prospects.
Dating apps seem to be quite the successful matchmakers for many. But before you delve into the world of online dating, there is another side to dating apps we should all be wary of.
Dating apps can diminish our sense of self-worth, force us into uncomfortable situations and deter authentic human connection.
When we meet people online, we are only interacting with the virtual aliases of one another. This removes the core humanistic aspects of forming relationships.
Face-to-face interaction is a crucial component in forming romantic relationships. There is more to learn about a person from real life interactions than from an online profile. The way a person carries themselves can say a lot about who they are — from their choice of clothing to the posture of their stance to their inflections of their voice.
Talking face-to-face is particularly important in understanding what a person is like. Communicating via messages makes it difficult to grasp who someone truly is.
Online messaging presents people the luxury of time to curate the perfect responses which are not afforded in a typical conversation. Or the opposite may happen, people may be harsher and ruder because they are able to hide behind a screen.
Initial reactions to what you send someone are unknown since you are unable to see their facial reactions, nor can you be certain of sarcastic or humorous tones in someone’s messages. People’s texting style can differ significantly from how they converse in real life. This can lead to completely inaccurate impressions.
We can use queues from in-person interactions to make judgements on how compatible someone may be using all of our senses and discover if there is something worth pursuing. Whereas dating apps can lead to misconstrued portrayals of who people are, especially because we are relying heavily on carefully constructed profiles.
We tend to only put our best foot forward on social platforms. We upload photos taken with the best lighting and the best angles and we write the wittiest and most charming profiles. This image of our most polished selves sets unrealistic expectations for ourselves and potential partners.
Studies have shown that people who use dating apps have lower self-esteem and are less satisfied with their appearances. This held true for both women and men.
Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that initial impressions are largely based on physical appearances. There is pressure to take the most flattering photo of yourself. Then, if you don’t get the matches you hoped for, if any matches at all, you may feel self-conscious about your looks or even begin to feel objectified.
Objectification may occur as a result of the associations made between online dating apps and the rise of hookup culture. While some people are looking to form long lasting romantic connections, others are merely trying to find someone to have casual sex with. This alternative motive is just as valid and with millions of people using dating apps as it is a convenient way to meet new sexual partners.
Unfortunately, many go about this without directly expressing their true intentions, leaving the other party feeling hurt. Some people have even been ghosted after a hookup, meaning the other person stopped all communications without warning. This can make someone feel used and lower their sense of self-worth.
Additionally, many women are bombarded with messages asking for a one-night stand, nude photos or they are sent unsolicited nude photos. Experiencing these types of interactions undoubtedly leads to feeling like a sexual object, and the pursuit of finding love becomes even more discouraging.
Of course, the negatives of online dating apps can also be seen in traditional forms of dating. But the bottom line is finding love is hard regardless of how you are going about it. However, there is something about online dating that amplifies the struggles of finding someone to love.
This is not to say that online dating apps should not be used at all, because they have worked successfully for many couples. Rather one should be aware and mindful about all the aspects of dating apps if they chose to use them to seek love.
Catherine Van Weele is a sophomore studying political science. Follow her on Twitter @catievanweele.