2 Ways To Avoid Being Debilitated By Dating Apps
Does constantly swiping right leave you feeling overwhelmed? Here's what to do to avoid 'analysis paralysis.'
By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | February 02, 2024
Many people in their 20s often come to therapy overwhelmed by dating apps. They usually say something like:
- "I signed up for a dating app hoping to get into a relationship only to find myself lost in a sea of potential matches."
- "I feel as if I'm forgetting that behind each profile is a real person."
- "I'm starting to wonder if I'm more fixated on the dopamine hit of a match than actually finding a meaningful connection."
A recent report by Pew Research Center found that while 42% of adults feel these apps have made finding a long-term partner easier, there's a significant number of people, especially those under 30, who aren't quite sure. And then there's the sheer volume of people to sift through. In fact, 37% of adults feel that there are just too many choices on these platforms, which can lead to "analysis paralysis."
Analysis paralysis is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when we're presented with too many choices. It's like standing in front of a wall of cereal boxes at the supermarket. The more options we have, the harder it is to make a decision. In the context of dating apps, this can lead to a sense of overwhelm and dissatisfaction. You might find yourself constantly swiping and texting, looking for the "right" match, but never actually settling on one person. This can lead to a cycle of endless searching, without ever really getting to know the people you are talking to.
Here are two ways to recognize analysis paralysis in your love life and take steps to overcome it.
1. Ask Yourself If You're Being Honest With Yourself About Your Priorities
From romantic comedies to pop songs to social media posts, we're constantly bombarded with images of "perfect" love stories. Research suggests that such narratives can seep into our consciousness, shaping our desires and expectations in ways we might not even realize.
A 2022 study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that the extensive choice offered by dating apps can have unintended consequences in that we may develop a fear of being single. This is compounded by the fact that people always put their best foot forward in their dating app profiles. A common train of thought that results can be:
"Why am I still single when there are so many perfect people out there?"
This is a precarious situation to be in, because it can lead to us ignore red flags or signs that someone isn't right for us. We might find ourselves swiping right on profiles that don't align with our true desires or expectations, simply because we're afraid of ending up alone. This is the seed of analysis paralysis.
To avoid such a situation, create a list of qualities that you cannot have in a partner. It can be as long or short as you'd like. Defining your expectations is the first step toward overcoming analysis paralysis. It's about getting in touch with your needs, deal-breakers and non-negotiables in such a way that you don't have to think twice before putting an end to things with someone you don't see a future with.
2. Consider Taking Breaks From The Apps From Time To Time
A fascinating study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the decision-making tendencies of parole judges and found some surprising results. While we'd like to believe that judges make decisions based purely on the facts at hand, the reality is a bit more complex.
The study found that judges were more lenient in their sentencing earlier in the day and immediately after a scheduled break, such as lunch. As the day wore on, their rulings became less lenient. This phenomenon is not limited to judges. It's a reflection of how our brains work. After making repeated decisions, we experience decision fatigue, which can affect the quality of our choices.
So, what does this mean for your dating app experience? Just like those judges, swiping through profile after profile can lead to decision fatigue, causing you to either rashly reject potential matches or settle for less-than-ideal ones.
That's why it's important to give yourself regular breaks from dating apps. You might find that you're more discerning and make better decisions when you return to the app refreshed. Remember, finding love is not a race. It's a journey that deserves your full attention and care.
While dating apps offer a plethora of choices, understanding that not all these choices are relevant to your search for love is crucial. Remember, it's not how many moves you make, but making the right move that will help you find your person. Love is out there, and with patience and self-awareness, you're more than capable of finding it.
Do you have a fear of being single? Take this psychological assessment to find out: Fear Of Being Single Scale
A similar version of this article can also be found on Forbes.com, here.