A new study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests that lonely individuals may be at particular risk when it comes to the compulsive use of mobile dating applications like Tinder.
“I generally study relationship initiation, and I’m fascinated by how technology can assist people in finding relationships, particularly romantic relationships,” said Kathryn Coduto, the corresponding author of the study and doctoral student in communication at The Ohio State University.
“However, I also think that technology can be both good and bad, and that we need to think carefully about how we engage with all kinds of social media specifically. I had firsthand experience seeing people opening dating apps when out with friends, and I was curious about what might drive that behavior.”
Many using dating apps may be looking for a way to connect with their peers in a non-committal way. Meeting in person can be a difficult experience for those with social anxiety, but talking on a dating app from the comfort of your own home is considered to be a much safer space to explore relationships for those who struggle to maintain social interaction in the real world.
Making the jump from talking on dating apps to dating in real life is another barrier that causes continued compulsive use of online dating apps. Why risk ruining an online relationship when it can just carry on as it is? Self-confidence might be an issue, with many believing that they may not be deemed attractive in reality, whereas they can control how they look in photos. In the real world, however, attraction is not simply based on physical attractiveness. Personality is actually far more important, whilst pheromones can also play a huge role. The thought of being rejected is enough for many people to stick with the status quo and live out life online, but expanding yourself into the outside world can be hugely beneficial.
If you never meet anyone in person, you are never going to have a truly human relationship. Relationships are more than just conversations on a screen. They are about smiling, laughing, eating, sleeping, chatting, walking and being with one another. An app like Tinder can’t replace that.