There are so many enjoyable, fun and pleasant things in life that seem harmless – from your favourite morning coffee to social media and even watching Netflix.
But these seemingly harmless pleasures can become addictive – and swiping left and right on Tinder is certainly one of those modern addictions.
It’s not surprising, after all, we are glued to our mobile phones for most of the day, all days of the week. We have them on our bedside tables, and check them multiple times at night.
So can a little too much swiping left and right be harmful?
As it turns out, yes, it can be, especially if your end goal is to have a real, healthy and in-person relationship.
Gambling with Tinder
The Tinder experience is very similar to that of playing a pokie-machine; you keep on swiping in the hope that you’ll find a potential match. The anticipation and excitement is similar to that of hoping to win a jackpot – eventually, or hopefully, it will offer you a quick and exciting reward.
The positive reinforcement of a “match” gives you a small hit of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that ensures survival needs like food and sex are met. It is therefore very easy and very common for people to fall into the trap of Tinder Addiction in a desire to find matches just for the dopamine fix, not even for the real reward of finding a potential someone who could become your next relationship.
The affirmation we receive by someone else showing interest can be very reassuring to our insecurities, providing quite a boost to the ego. It’s easy to become hooked, constantly seeking the validation of someone swiping right and showing their interest in you. There’s a battle between the fear of rejection versus the excitement and reassurance of being wanted, desired or accepted.
In many cases the Tinder addict already has a partner. A relationship that has a backup plan is not a healthy one, but unfortunately dating apps allow some people who are addicted to tee up the next person, and even go out and meet to see if they can “trade up”.
Signs of a Tinder Addiction
Are you hooked by the swiping? Here are some signs that you might be addicted:
- You spend more time swiping left and right than actually dating. Yes, maybe you are too busy to go out. But are you simply avoiding in-person meetings for the sake of swiping? The instant gratification of having numerous matches can feel great in the short term, but that feeling tends to dissipate quickly if there is no genuine intention.
- You simply have to respond to every push notification. If you can’t seem to make it through a work meeting or coffee date without responding to every single notification that pops up indicating some action is happening on your Tinder, you might be addicted. If you interrupt your day, or your date for that matter, to view your push notifications or a message from a potential romantic partner, it’s interfering with your personal life.
- You have found that partner and you are in a relationship, but you can’t get yourself to delete the app (or stop yourself from installing it again). I have seen so many couples in relationship counselling where Tinder has become a major threat to their relationship. It creates the perception that you are not committed to the relationship and that you are leaving the door open, or still searching for “something better”.
- Tinder is interfering with your healthy routines. When you’re staying up late and spending too much time in bed in the morning on Tinder, it interferes with your healthy routine. If you interrupt your gym workout or morning jog to check your Tinder hits, you might be addicted.
- You give up something(s) in your life. If you’re skipping lunch breaks or after-work drinks with your friends so you can scour the app, you might be a little more hooked than you think. Are these sacrifices and changes in your lifestyle really worth the instant gratification?
- You swipe right on everyone to see how many people “liked” and matched with you. Swiping right to find a date on Tinder should involve some effort, and not be an automatic right swipe to see if it’s a mutual match. Make sure you read their profiles to see what you have in common and swipe right only if you’d really like to learn more and hopefully meet that person. If your focus and gratification lies in the number of matches, and not on meeting a potential partner, you need to reconsider. It’s not the quantity of people who like you that determines the compatibility of a relationship, but the quality of finding things in common, including values, lifestyle and, of course, initial attraction.
- You get upset when someone you were chatting with “un-matches” with you. Putting yourself out there isn’t easy—and no one likes rejection. But if you find yourself experiencing intense emotional reactions, you need to reflect on what the purpose of the app is.
- You escape the reality of your world through the fantasy world of Tinder. Without realising, you start swiping whenever you have a free moment just to escape any unwanted feelings of boredom, stress or anxiety. You have to keep your mind occupied and hooked by Tinder in order to escape these uncomfortable feelings.
Does any of the above resonate with you? If so, it’s probably a good idea to seek out a counselling professional to assist you in regaining control over your habit of swiping!
Author: Willem van den Berg, B SocSci (Psychology & Criminology), B SocSci (Hons) (Psych), MSc Clinical Psychology.
Willem van den Berg is a Brisbane Psychologist with a compassionate, positive and non-judgmental approach, working with individuals, couples and families. His therapeutic toolbox includes evidence-based therapies including Clinical Hypnotherapy (Medical Hypno-Analysis), CBT, ACT and Interpersonal Therapy. William is fluent in both English and Afrikaans.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422 or M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.