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Last updated on December 14, 2015 | by Aet Suvari


Addicted To Online Dating?

A myriad of dating websites and apps tell us our next relationship could be a mere finger click away – is this continuous connection to our future getting us addicted to online dating?…

Online dating celebrated its 20th birthday this year and I guess it’s safe to say those careless childhood and difficult teenage years are well and truly behind it.

But how bright is the future? Allegedly online dating is more popular than ever before, it’s found general acceptance in society and long ago ceased to be stigmatised.

As an industry too it’s been growing and is reported to be worth around £1.3 billion worldwide. But that doesn’t mean it’s not struggling with different problems – growing rates of cyber fraud is just one – albeit probably the most serious allegation.

Online Dating Apps

Online dating – more specifically, dating apps – have been blamed for changing the attitude towards love and relationships in the modern world, not to mention the somewhat shocking claims that it is to be blamed for the rise of STDs amongst young people. It is supposed to have changed us to more callous and shallow human beings who care more about finding a one night stand than finding the one.

Another worrying trend that has recently emerged is that of the so-called “behavioural addictions” – the category under which also online dating falls. Robert Weiss, a high official of an American company coordinating the work of rehabilitation centres, has suggested that the latest online dating apps could be triggering a new wave of addiction. He has said:

What I’m seeing is people with vulnerabilities who are finding their ways to instant release. If substance addictions were the addiction of the 20th century, behavioural addictions are those of the 21st century.

So what is an online dating addiction and why and how does it develop?

Well, first, let’s look at the facts. Like many other modern addictions it’s one of those that is potentially wide-spread due to several characteristics that make it both efficient and at the same time easy to overindulge.

It’s quick and easy to access in the safety of our homes. Even more so – its ease of access has been further improved by online dating apps, which means we’re always just a click away. It has a huge potential to deliver actual results – that means the users have realistic expectations that online dating can save them from loneliness and heartbreak. It’s accessible to all, it’s private, it’s not time consuming and it’s relatively affordable.

All these factors make it incredibly popular and also enhance the chance that one might start depending on it, craving for the assurances it has the potential to deliver. When something is so comfortable, easy to use, affordable and easily accessible, it certainly makes us more dependent on it. When we have a car, who still wants to walk, right? We soon discover we keep checking on our dating profile more and more – even when we’re actually out on a real date. This virtual reality takes over and becomes more important to us than what is really going on in our lives.

Symptoms of online dating addiction

I guess you could ask, why it is bad to be so dependent on online dating. If it doesn’t harm you or others around you, it can’t be such a bad thing, right? Well, not entirely. First of all, if you only communicate online, you soon discover you become much more antisocial in situations that require other kinds of communication.

Your social skills suffer. Your expectations become more unrealistic. You might become more and more idealistic about the date you’re looking for – being presented with such a huge choice isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Impatience is also one of the big factors online dating addiction can trigger – instead of letting relationships take their course, we tend to rush ahead with things, expecting to get “there” faster.

Some questions to ask yourself

So, are you addicted to online dating? Ask yourself whether you’re happy with your online dating experience at the moment.

What is it that makes you feel good about it – is it the amount of correspondence you get or the depth of your conversations? Is it more about quantity or quality for you?

How serious are you about actually finding someone you want to share your life with – or would you rather just keep the whole relationship in the safety of the dating site?

How much time do you spend on a dating site – how many times every day you keep checking your inbox (or at least keep wanting to do that)? How would it make you feel if you had to spend a whole day without being able to log in? How about a week?

Online dating is a powerful tool if you use it right. It really has a potential to change your life. But you have to use it right in order to find it useful and helpful.

Don’t let it overtake your life, don’t fall victim to the sugar rush highs of instant gratification and don’t expect the system to do all the hard work for you.

Take some time to switch off and restore balance in your life so the offline world takes up more of your daily experience.

Online dating is a neutral tool – it’s up to us to use it consciously and wisely.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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