If you’ve ever used dating apps, chances are, you have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it gives you way more opportunities to meet people, but on the other hand, it can eat up a lot of energy with very little reward (not to mention, rejections can take a toll on your self-esteem).
So then here comes the question: Should you go on a dating app hiatus or is it worth it to see where online dating takes you? We asked five therapists to share their thoughts below.
Why you should consider it
It can help shy daters put themselves out there
“The reality of it is most of us go to work, then back home, and only occasionally go out with friends. So unless you’re willing and able to approach potential dates in person, you aren’t going to meet anyone at home or at work, says Racine Henry, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “I always advocate for my single clients to try dating apps because it can be a risk-free approach to dating. You don’t have to communicate if you don’t want to, you don’t have to deal with the awkward in-person advances of someone you’re not interested in, and you can dictate how much effort you put into the process.”
You can explore your options
There are many reasons to jump on dating apps. “We can ask: Is it for love? Is it for marriage? Am I going into a kind of frenzied, manic dating phase to hide from actual relationships? Am I recovering from a relationship loss and seeking distraction? I especially recommend it when [you’re] exploring what [you] want and are able to use the apps for experimenting and finding out. Conversely, the downside happens when [you] use the dating apps as a defense against discovering what you want and need from relationships,” explains Mark B. Borg, a certified interpersonal psychiatrist.
Why you shouldn’t consider it
It can lead to superficial judgments
“I’m actually seeing some huge problems emerge with dating apps. It’s conditioning our brains to quickly formulate an extremely shallow and superficial judgment of a potential partner, and I’m personally seeing it have a profound impact on not only how we assess a potential partner, but also how people view their own self-image, value, and worth,” says Brandon Santan, a marriage and family psychotherapist and counselor.
It’s better to get to know someone in person
“To me, when it comes to dating, one thing I try and tell my patients and clients is to listen to your instincts. Our instincts are there for a reason, and our gut reactions to someone may be our unconscious letting us know that there’s a red flag with the person, and they may not be a good fit for us. If we use an app and are not truly talking to someone face to face, there may be things we will miss. People can also be deceitful or hide things by using an app. There can be huge things we miss when it comes to the behaviors of others if we primarily talk to them through apps first,” shares Laura Dabney, a board-certified psychiatrist.
If you do decide to try it
Make sure you’re on the same page
“I recommend it to people who are in particularly limited work or school environments as a way to branch out, with the caveat of being thoughtful about what [you’re] seeking from the app (casual dating, hook-ups, relationships) and vetting potential dates accordingly. The downside is when there’s a dramatic discrepancy between people’s intentions going into a date, especially if one party isn’t forthcoming about their expectations,” says Rebecca Newman, a psychiatric social worker.
Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to using dating apps. Feel free to consult your therapist and/or do what makes you feel most comfortable and confident.
Wondering what the key to a long-lasting relationship really is? Check out six things all healthy relationships have in common.
xx, The FabFitFun Team