Online dating and its Psychological Implications

Online dating and its Psychological Implications

Internet in today’s world is serving a lot of functions and the most striking being nurturing relationships.  Therefore, we can see that this transition in the way relationships have been shaped over time does impact the human psyche. Individuals’ now have more power and agency in terms of selecting their own partners with the advent of the increasing no. of dating apps such as tinder, bumble etc. The stigma regarding dating apps has been very less leading to more and more people engaging in these platforms increasingly. Definitely there are many advantages of being involved in an online platform as your sense of agency increasing and you’re flooded with multiple options. There is a reduction of uncertainty regarding the perception of options available giving humans a sense of comfort. Therefore, since online dating has become a very important part of our life, discussing its psychological implications become essentially important. Each relationship comes into existence with the interrelation of identities that lead to thoughts, behaviours and in turn leads to the growth of relationships. There is always an ongoing debate surrounding the nature of relationships formed via an online platform to be of two kinds either it is superficial or it is personal. But, this also depends to a greater extent on the basis of individual differences and the relationship shared by the two individuals.

There has been a lot of pressure on people in terms of self-presentation and impression management as it plays a major role while dating via an online platform. Therefore, the question remains as to whether one is projecting their real or ideal self. There are users of this platform who are increasingly being ignored which might in turn contribute to their feelings of worthlessness. There are relationships like friendships that are broken off suddenly and this in turn contributes and has a heavy effect on their mental health. These negative experiences are particularly dangerous as it then enables the user’s to question them in innumerable number of aspect’s such as questioning their physical appearance, their conversational skills etc. fetching into their self and in turn leading to lowered self-esteem. Another feature i.e. anonymity might lead to additional amounts of unfathomable stress and worrying with issues related to the honesty and integrity of the other person involved. This can then make people very vulnerable and induce painful negative emotions, self-doubt and can further lead to increasing trust issues amongst people. These factors combine can actually lower the well-being of a person at many levels i.e. psychological, spiritual, social and economic. There might be heavy displacement of emotions from one setting to another leading to behaviors and lifestyles that are maladaptive. Therefore, since these apps are designed around physical appearance there have been a lot of issues related to mental health such as anxieties and insecurities. They have been very much pre-occupied with their appearance to an extent that might not be healthy. This is then leading to a lot of social comparisons leading to less satisfaction with themselves. According to a research presented at a convention of the American Psychological Association, it was reported that Tinder users have reported feelings of worthlessness and lower levels of satisfaction in their own skin.  At a cognitive level, there are excessive amounts of choices that can lead to difficulties in decision making again adding onto stress levels.  One more thing that makes the situation more complicated is that different users of online dating are using this platform for different purposes. For example: Some are interested in short term engagement whereas some are interested in long term prospects.  Hence, this should be made very transparent as well as clarified in order to prevent people from the disappointments that they might face. This whole platform of online dating has made the prospect of finding a partner even more challenging. Romantic relationships do take a heavy emotional and mental toll because as humans are social beings, relationships do play a central role in one’s well- being. Keisler & Seigel et al (2005) had found that having a satisfying relationship further leads to better health outcomes in terms of early recovery from illnesses (Kiesler & Siegel, 2005). This clearly goes on to show that romantic relationships play an important role in bringing happiness and when this need is thwarted, there are chances of falling prey to loneliness and depression. Therefore, constant vigilance is necessary and so are the implications of it becoming very necessary as online dating is increasingly becoming a norm. Another issue is that there is financial risks involved bringing in more emotional strain. One more difficulty lies in deciding the boundaries of self-disclosure leading to added confusion and stress again thwarting mental health. Then, there are additional issues surrounding infidelity where the person might feel that he/she is being cheated upon and since a high level of intimacy isn’t present it can lead to constant worries and fear. Therefore, one needs to realize that online dating is having enormous impacts on our culture and we should be vigilant about it. One should constantly screen the effects online dating has on oneself and how vulnerable each one of us are becoming because of it.

About the Author

Harsha Baid
Student, Completed B.A Hons. Psychology, Pursuing M.A Psychology at Delhi University, North Campus.

My name is Harsha Baid. I am a first year master’s degree student in Psychology at Delhi University (DU). My experience of academically being

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