Dating Apps and the Flaws Behind Them

14 Jan

Online dating does have its benefits of course, but just how important are those non-verbal cues for connecting with your date?

Shot of a young man and woman standing back to back and using their smartphones

With the ever-growing popularity and diversity of dating apps, it is not a surprise that the pool of potential partners is only getting larger online. With its ease and flexibility, people don’t even need to leave the house to find their perfect match. According to statistics, millennials now make-up around 79% of dating app users, and these numbers are only predicted to increase in the following decade. Tinder is estimated to have 57 million users worldwide as of January 2020, with the average user spending an average of 35 minutes a day swiping. Online dating apps present people with an effective solution to dating, which is time-efficiency.

However, the ugly reality behind the majority of dating apps is that they source an abundance of competition: the difficulty of capturing someone’s attention from a single picture. The need to impress someone in such a brief flash of time would increasingly appear to be leading to a generation of narcissists. How is this affecting the expectations of online daters?

The Psychology behind Online Communication

When thinking about human interaction, people often neglect the importance of nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, eye contact, and hand gestures. In fact, non-verbal communication can be the most integral part of any interaction, it directs the flow and dynamics of the conversation. These subtle cues build that positive sensation of warmth you get after talking to someone you like. However, when communicating with someone online, all these affirmative and powerful cues are withdrawn from the equation.

Online dating does have its benefits of course: it’s quick, global, and often much less stressful. But without these nonverbal cues, we are truly missing out. The feeling of butterflies you experience when you’re physically around that person.

  • Gesticulation: Is he expressive when he talks? Does he unconsciously mimic your body language?
  • Posture: Is she subtlety moving her hand towards yours? Is he walking close to you?
  • Physicality: Does he put his arm around you? Does she play with her hair when flirting?

Researchers in the field of human communication, suggest that the absence of nonverbal cues in a conversation using dating apps can guide the user to cognitively reorienting towards themselves. In the generation of dating apps and online communication, users are becoming more self-focused, as everyone else is viewed as a two-dimensional figure in the digital domain of dating apps expressing their emotions through generic emoticons.

Sex and narcissism

With the rise of dating apps, many users (particularly men) are becoming less focused on finding ‘the right one’ and more eager to achieve instant gratification through casual sexual encounters. Many online dating apps such as Tinder have obtained a distinct reputation of being the ultimate ‘hook-up’ app, where users swipe to find their casual one-night stand. However, the fierce competition and the minimal format emphasize physical appearance and little else – either you find someone attractive or not. This behavior promotes a higher level of vanity in users, trying to draw more users by displaying a more attractive and ‘sexy’ profile picture.

Selective self-presentation

Online and even in real-life, people tend to behave and display themselves in a way that would highlight their best qualities and strengths. Psychologists usually refer to this as selective self-presentation, which is completely normal. We carefully select the features ourselves that we think would be seen as favorable. This is especially more evident in the arena of dating platforms, where a user is restricted to a minimal format of a few hundred characters to describe oneself. However, unlike in a fighting arena, you might not even stand a chance if you are simply judged on physical attractiveness.

Selective self-presentation can sometimes be the only solution. Online dating can therefore reinforce narcissistic tendencies in users, as they attempt to highlight their best quality in the available bio section. Moreover, when using a dating app, the user can select the images they feel would optimize their chances of a match. Unlike real-life, pictures can portray you in a better light, quite literarily. Users can create an illusory image of themselves using good lighting, favorable angles, and of course filters and photo editing software. Some studies suggest that deception is a common issue with dating apps, with users manipulating their appearance to portray themselves as more attractive. Dating apps have definitely altered the entire dating experience and reformed the traditional way of dating.

Increase of unrealistic expectations 

The colossal amount of pressure and competition on dating apps has led many users to edit their profile pictures and biographies to perfection. However, this phenomenon has caused many people to have hopeless and unrealistic expectations of their potential online dates. The increased expectation and lack of naturalism when searching for potential partners will lead you to a dead-end, Mr. or Mrs. Perfect is just not real.

Research has shown that individuals who did not use dating apps were much less selective. We all have our imperfections and it is valuable in any relationship to accept them rather than expect them to be eliminated altogether.

This article does not aim to discourage the use of dating apps, but simply acknowledge that dating apps are problematic; as suggested it can increase narcissistic behavior and make our judgment of physical appearance key in the search for a partner.

If you are struggling to find your perfect partner, and the matter discussed in this article affects you, why not consider the services of a professional in the love industry? At Maclynn International, we provide our clients with a unique approach, cooperating psychological principles, and assessments with character-driven profiling. Our selected matchmaker will become your confidante, a friend, a concierge, a coach, and the person who can make your romantic dreams come true.

Want to find out more about how we work? Get in touch today and start your journey towards finding love.

by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida Maclynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.More by this author

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