Back when we were kids, our parents told us not to get into cars with strangers, not to trust people on the internet, and never to go meet someone we only knew online. But the world has changed, and today we take Ubers to blind dates with people we’ve met through online dating apps. It’s a brave new world, and it comes with a lot of exciting possibilities.
But despite the convenience and purported success of online dating, it can wear on your self-esteem. Going on date after date with people who aren’t at all what you’re looking for can be exhausting. Below are some tips for using online dating apps while still maintaining your self-esteem.
Perks of Online Dating Apps
In the past, online dating has come with a stigma, but these days, it’s increasingly common. And it’s easy to see why; online dating allows you to skip the dance of trying to figure out if someone’s available and interested, and if you’re both looking for the same thing. With an app, you can put it all out there and find exactly the person you’re looking for.
Dating apps can also be helpful for those of us who have a difficult time talking to new people. Maybe you’re just shy, or maybe you have a social anxiety disorder (don’t worry, about 15 million adults in the U.S. do). Either way, being able to connect with someone through online dating can be much easier than trying to go up to them in person and ask them out.
Effects of Dating Apps on Self-Esteem
For all the benefits dating apps have, they can cause your self-esteem to take a hit. People are putting their best face (and sometimes not even their own face) on online dating apps. You’re seeing them at their polished, Photoshopped, filtered, and angled, not how they look in everyday life.
Besides the stress of comparing yourself with others on the app, online dating fails more often than not. That’s not anyone’s fault, but it can wear on you after a while. You may begin to feel like there’s something wrong with you and that you’re just un-datable.
There are a few approaches you can take to online dating that will help you preserve your self-esteem and enjoy the experience.
When you’re online dating, the first cardinal rule is to always be safe. Yes, most people on online dating sites are nice people just looking for a connection. But especially if you’re a woman, there is a very real risk of sexual assault or other violence when you’re meeting strangers.
Take a few basic precautions, and you’ll have no trouble online dating safely. Never give out personal information such as your home address, your workplace, or details of your schedule to a person you haven’t met or have only met once or twice. When you go out for a first meeting, meet in a public area, and tell a friend where you’re going, who you’re going with, and when you expect to be back.
Start with Free Apps
With safety concerns out of the way, it’s time to choose which of the many online dating apps you want to use. Depending on what you’re looking for, there are several apps for you to choose from. There are apps for everything from hookups to serious relationships with people who share the same hobby.
When you start online dating, you want to start with the free apps. Online dating works differently for everyone, and you may find that a particular app doesn’t work for you. You’ll feel less bad about bailing on that app if you don’t have any money in it.
Set Up Boundaries
One of the best things you can do for your mental health in online dating is to set boundaries. A lot of apps have pages and pages of potential partners you can scroll through. It’s easy to get burned out that way, so set some boundaries.
Decide on a certain time of day you’ll devote to scrolling through online dating sites. Take breaks when you need to. And make sure you’re going out and engaging in other social activities with your friends; screen relationships aren’t everything.
Focus on People Who Meet Your Standards
It can be very easy when you’re sifting through a thousand potential matches to compromise your standards. Yes, that person wants kids and you don’t, but they’re so cute, and surely you can work it out! But tread not here; this is the path to bad dates and online dating despair.
Instead, focus on the people who have what you want out of a potential match. You have a lot of options to choose from, and your needs in a relationship are valid. Make the choice not to waste either of your time by trying to make things work with someone who wants different things than you do.
Remember Your Worth
Most important of all, in the sea of online dating, make sure you hang onto what you’re worth. You deserve someone with whom you connect, who makes you happy, and who treasures you for who you are. Don’t start compromising what you need because you feel like the pressure is on to be a good match for everyone.
Take a step back from time to time and spend some time focusing on yourself. Remind yourself what you want out of a relationship and that you deserve that. Then go back in with a clear head, knowing that the right person will value you and your time.
Put Your Mental Health First
There is no stigma in online dating these days, but it can beat you up over time. Make sure you set firm boundaries and remind yourself why you’re doing this. You deserve an amazing relationship, and with the right rules for yourself, online dating can be a great way to get it.
If you’d like to put mental health first in your life, check out the rest of our site at Modern Era Counseling. We offer individual and group counseling for everything from LBGTQ+ issues to stress and anxiety struggles. Get started on your path to better mental health today.