The world of dating apps sucks you in slowly. First, you put your profile up with high hopes. You check for notifications constantly. Then, you find your dream woman (or let’s be honest, a few) and spend hours writing witty, personalized messages … only to be ignored.
Crushed, you come back and hit it hard. Maybe you start banging out a bunch of “Hey, beautiful” notes to your B list. And from that point on, you end up obsessively scrolling through profiles for way longer than you should — even though you wish you could just forget about it all entirely.
Interestingly, experts often define addiction as when you keep doing something that you know has negative consequences, even though it starts to take over your life. Just sayin’.
So, could you be addicted to dating apps? Here are 10 subtle (and admittedly unscientific) signs that you might be.
1. You rarely go past first dates.
Maybe you’re one of those lucky ones who doesn’t have a problem getting a steady stream of dates. Funny thing is, though, you’re not a second-date kind of guy. Once the first date is over, you’re already back on the app and onto the next prospect.
Why do you do this? You could be a maximizer. Barry Schwartz, author of the book, The Paradox of Choice, says that “maximizers” are those who can never bring themselves to settle on one option, because in a world of endless choices, they can’t stop thinking that there’s something better around the corner.
So when it comes to dating, you constantly want to upgrade. Instead of really getting to know the person you chose to go on a first date with, you cut it off and set up another first date with someone else. Before you know it, you’re an endless first-dater who’s stuck using dating apps indefinitely.
Instead, next time you go out with someone, remind yourself why you picked her. Chances are, other women won’t have the exact combination of qualities that she does, even if they do have one or two. This could help you appreciate the one you’re with.
2. You have no real strategy.
Even though you have a dating profile up, you might not have a plan. And without a plan, once again … you could stay on dating apps forever.
One approach a lot of guys take is “dating by the numbers,” where you book as many dates as you can and hope for the best. But it may never get you off the dating apps, because there’s no endgame.
A more strategic version of this would be MegaDating, where you do the same thing, but set clear goals. For example, dating a lot of people creates momentum around you, lowers your fear of rejection, and makes you more skilled at presenting yourself. If you measure your progress by those things (instead of just the numbers), you’ll actually improve yourself over time. Then when your most ideal match comes along, you’ll be more than ready for her — and both of you will be happy to finally ditch the apps.
3. You ghost people on a regular basis.
Ghosting is super rude, but very common (and easy to do when you’re hiding behind a screen). However, if you’re ghosting almost everyone you come across, that’s a whole different ball game.
If you’re constantly ghosting people, you may be addicted to dating apps because of the constant self-esteem boost you get when someone writes or responds to you. But once you get your “hit,” it’s no longer interesting to continue the conversation. Then, you move on to someone else and start all over again.
So how do you best handle this? Start feeling better about yourself! Otherwise you’ll keep engaging people on dating apps just for the attention. Take a break from the apps entirely and do some real-world things that make you feel good.
4. You’ve never been on a date from the app.
This one is more common than you might think. In fact, one third of online daters admit they’ve actually never been on a date from the app or website they’re using.
So are you one of those types that’s “just looking?” You might think you’re on there to meet new people, but then get anxious when it comes time to do it. The problem is, you may get hooked on using the app itself instead of actually finding dates.
Luckily, there are tons of ways to meet people besides dating apps. So if months have gone by and you haven’t gone on any dates yet, maybe it’s just not your thing. You’re not doing yourself any favors by staying on it!
5. Your entire goal is sex.
Obviously, dating apps are a good source for hookups. Besides waiting at a bar until last call and lowering your standards, it’s probably the most efficient way to go, actually. But just be aware, it can distract you from finding anything deeper.
6. You’re nursing a broken heart.
Whether you dumped someone or got dumped, breakups hurt. And what better way to feel good again then to dive into a dating pool full of attractive (and, ok, semi-attractive) strangers? Any responses you get will undoubtedly prove that you’ve still got it. Right?
Eh, not really. You may think you’re moving on, but if you’re not ready, then you’re really just using apps to distract yourself and soothe your ego, instead of having quality conversations.
Problem is, your dating pool isn’t infinite. At some point, you’ll exhaust all the people around you who fit your requirements, at least for a while. So if you’re flying through profiles just trying to get a “hey” back, you could miss your chance to really find someone new.
Instead, do yourself a favor and get on the apps when you’re feeling more positive and truly over your heartbreak. Otherwise, it’ll only work against you.
7. You can stay on it for hours.
One classic sign of being addicted to dating apps is that you literally can’t get off them! Like so many other digital tools we use, dating apps are designed to keep you clicking. You hop on just to check one or two things, and suddenly you look up an hour later and wonder where the time went.
Pay attention if you spend huge chunks of your day on them. Even though it’s tempting to flip through them all the time, take comfort in the fact that the apps aren’t going anywhere. And chances are, unless you swiped left, that hottie you just discovered will be there tomorrow, too. Try to build in some breathing time between sessions.
8. You’ve lowered your standards to widen your dating pool.
If you’ve been on dating apps a while, you may start getting bored after seeing the same people over and over. At that point, you could take a break from the app, or lower your standards.
But lowering your standards means that you start engaging people who you’d actually never really go out with. If you lower your standards just so you have more people to scroll through and can stay longer on the app, maybe it’s time to rethink things.
To avoid this trap, just ask yourself, “Would I actually go out with this person?” first before talking to them.
9. You don’t really think you’ll find anyone, but you still use it.
Dig deep and answer this one: Do you really think you’ll find someone using the app you’re on? If your answer is no (and you’re still using it) then you’re on autopilot. You’re scrolling past messages and flipping through profiles just because it’s something to do. Stop! Get off the app and find something else you can put more faith in, at least for a while.
10. You check it while you’re on dates.
Finally, the biggest sign of being addicted to dating apps is checking them while you’re actually on a date (yes, on the way home counts!). Doing this regularly could mean you’re putting more effort into the process of getting dates on the app than actually turning them into quality interactions. Instead, think about shifting your focus.
If You Really Think You’re Addicted to Dating Apps, Take Heart
The truth is, it’s hard for any of us to put the dating apps down. We all want companionship, and they’re such an important tool. And when you always feel like you have so many potential matches just a few clicks away, who can resist? But using them without really paying attention to what you’re doing doesn’t help, either. Being thoughtful about how you interact with dating apps will make it more likely that you’ll find someone who really resonates with you. So, stay positive … and aware!
Also, if you’re addicted to dating apps, don’t forget there are lots of alternatives when it comes to finding people. Book a 1-on-1 Skype session with Emyli, who can help you evaluate your options when it comes to your dating strategy. Whether you use apps or not, it never hurts to take a good look at how you’ve been approaching things.