- People who describe themselves as lonely and socially anxious may tend to become more addicted to dating apps, according to researchers from Ohio State University.
- The researchers surveyed 269 college students and found those who described themselves as anxious and lonely used the online platforms so much, their habits got in the way of work or school.
- “Especially if you’re lonely, be careful in your choices. Regulate and be selective in your use,” one of the lead researchers said.
- This more mindful method is often called “slow dating” and it can increase the quality of your dating app matches.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Apps like Tinder and Bumble have made it possible for singles to dramatically open up the dating pool, but that could have some negative consequences, especially for people who already deal with social anxiety or loneliness.
Researchers at Ohio State University recently surveyed 269 college students who used dating apps and found that people who described themselves as lonely and socially anxious were more addicted to the social media platforms, to the point their dating app usage interfered with their work or schooling.
To test this, researchers had students answered online survey questions like “Are you constantly anxious around other people?” to determine their levels of social anxiety and loneliness. They also had to say whether they agreed with statements like “I am unable to reduce the amount of time I spend on dating apps.”
Dating apps can provide a sense of security for anxious people
The researchers found that people who had higher levels of social anxiety said they preferred to meet people on dating apps rather than in person, and also preferred socializing with their app matches without meeting face-to-face (like with in-app messaging).
As the researchers theorize, some people with high levels of social anxiety may feel that way because they don’t have confidence in their own social skills. They like dating apps because it can protect against that to an extent.
But this proclivity can be damaging. When people in the survey reported being both socially anxious and lonely, they also used dating apps so much that it interfered with other aspects of their lives, like work or school.
On the other hand, students who said they only were anxious but not lonely, or those who said their feelings of loneliness were only low to moderate, did not display behaviors that suggested they were addicted to dating apps.
If you use dating apps, create use limits for yourself
The study was relatively small and relied on self-reported data from the students, so the findings don’t necessarily mean your constant dating app use is problematic. But being mindful of app usage could be helpful for your health and dating prospects.
In fact, creating limits around how often you use dating apps could benefit both your mental health and your chances of scoring a worthwhile date.
Dating experts previously told INSIDER that setting limits on the number of people you match with and the number of people you go on dates with can make the dating process a more enjoyable and fruitful experience.
To decide whether you’re swiping for fun or because you truly believe there’s a chance you could click with someone, dating coach Sameera Sullivan suggests evaluating your motives.
“It’s important to ask yourself, ‘Am I doing it to see how many people are out there? Am I doing it for my self worth?” she said.
If you are just using apps to see how many matches you can rack up, trying a different approach and waiting to connect with someone who shares your interests may be more worth your while.