If you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day, you may be using online dating apps as part of your search. The odds of success may be in your favor, as most couples today first meet online, but if you aren’t careful, your approach to online dating could be harmful to your mental health.
People with pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety may experience symptoms as a result of the way many major dating apps work. Most apps display photos of users along with information about their personalities. Users may develop negative thoughts about their body image or about themselves in general if they aren’t getting many responses to their profile.
On the other hand, while a high number of responses may provide an initial sense of validation, it can quickly turn negative if potential connections or conversations come to a quick or unexpected end. Negative feelings can also occur after first dates if the person you met decides to “ghost” you, never responding or asking to go out with you again.
To stay mentally healthy despite these potential bumps in the road of your online dating journey, you should:
Set limits on the time you spend on each app: The unhealthy effects of online dating apps can increase as you spend more time on them at the expense of other activities. Set a time limit of about 30 minutes each day or limit your number of swipes for each app. Take a break to do something else after finishing your time with one app if you plan to use another.
Make genuine connections your goal: It can be easy to swipe thoughtlessly on a high volume of profiles, resulting in either a low number of matches or conversations that lead nowhere. Don’t swipe just to see how many matches you can get; use online dating apps as a tool to meet people you can genuinely connect with based on your true personality.
Avoid online dating on bad days: If you are in a negative frame of mind due to the events of your day or are experiencing sudden symptoms of a mental health condition, avoid online dating apps for that day entirely, as they can do more harm than good to your self-esteem and self-image in these moments.
If you’re experiencing mental health problems that are interfering with your ability to make connections with other people, romantic or otherwise, you can find help from a therapist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Clinic. To schedule an appointment or learn more, please call (718) 206-6160.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.