What Tinder Is Doing To Your Self-Image

Stephen Hussey

I’ve wondered for a while about how Tinder is making us feel.

For the first time this week, I found some actual research that confirms that both male and female Tinder users report a lower self-image after using the popular dating app.

Scientists asked 1,044 women and 273 men – mostly university students – to complete questionnaires detailing their use of Tinder, and reported the following:

“We found that being actively involved with Tinder, regardless of the user’s gender, was associated with body dissatisfaction, body shame, body monitoring, internalisation of societal expectations of beauty, comparing oneself physically to others, and reliance on media for information on appearance and attractiveness.”

tinder

There’s some irony to this, considering that we are constantly told Tinder is little more a validation-seeking app. Turns out, we’re getting the opposite.

Tinder = 100 tiny rejections

Instead of a confidence boost, those who sit swiping absent-mindedly with their friends, with coffee at lunch, or secretly at the office, are feeling more and more disposable, probably because, for every 1 or 2 matches, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re also receiving 100 tiny rejections. 

At least, that was how I felt when I used Tinder.

Aside from the feeling I was burning a pile of hours swiping away when I could have been out with friends or reading a book, or doing anything productive, I couldn’t help but feel that I was being more judged every time I would open up to look at my matches.

This seems to agree with the research, since men were more likely than women to feel their self-esteem lowered after using the app. My guess is that this is because men tend to get far fewer matches than women (at least I’m told) and are probably more likely to treat their results as a definitive scorecard on their looks.

Why Does Tinder Make Us Feel Worse?

By the way, I don’t have any beef with online dating.

Some guys I know love and swear by it. Plenty of women I know use it regularly with varying results. A fair few women at Matt’s seminar events have told me the worst horror stories about it. One university friend of mine told me she’s getting married to a guy she met on Tinder (so clearly it is capable of producing at least some matches made in heaven).

So I don’t think I can sit and moan about dating apps.

But it’s interesting to have something I’ve often felt confirmed by some hard data.

But then the question is: Why does Tinder make people feel worse about themselves?

  • Maybe it’s because in real life we’re not used to facing actual judgment from so many people, whereas on Tinder we have our fears confirmed if that hot guy or girl turns out to have no interest (or if they actually do match with us and turn out to be a huge disappointment).
  • Maybe it’s just exposure to so many attractive people, which causes us to get a kind of “dating FOMO” as we become aware of all the people out there who we’d like to attract.
  • Maybe it just that Tinder makes us focus on our looks too much.

I’d love to hear a woman’s perspective on this, so here are my questions:

1.  Does Tinder make you feel worse or better about yourself?

2. Have you deleted Tinder? Did your self-esteem improve afterwards?

Let me know in the comments below!

Until next week ;)

Stephen

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98 Replies to “What Tinder Is Doing To Your Self-Image”

  1. It didn’t bother me that much when I didn’t match with someone as often I would match with a bunch of others whom I’d be excited about. My biggest problem is that i tended to chat with guys who were too often on there to find casual sex buddies or guys who were just looking to flatter their egos.
    It’s frustrating ’cause i’d say that compared to other dating apps, it was the one with the most attractive guys on but the fact that people feel like they have all the choice in the world make them treat individuals as just another profile and it leaves little space for building a relationship.

  2. I must say I do feel kinda worse because of it and have been thinking about deleting it for a while. It’s not that I don’t get matches with guys I’d like to get to know, but I feel so replaceable. There are so many guys just looking for one thing, and you don’t exactly feel that good about yourself when they don’t even want to get to know you.

    1. I think it’s the social norm now that you are courage to date multiple people to find what you really want. So the guys are pretty much replaceable too. I guess you’ll get used to it after a while

  3. I have never used Tinder, but I have tried dating websites and it made me feel crap, and ironically I also would display the same behaviour I was experiencing.

    It is not something for me, but I know a lot of friends have had success online…me I need connection and looks as I am vain.

  4. I used Tinder before, and I deleted the apps off my phone while ago. Having a lot of matches (and really it’s a lot), I could tell it was a little of confidence boost for me when I started using it. Then it became a tool to meet variable of people so I could have more sense with people and my surrounding. As I got a little wiser, I know my self worth, and I swear by the fact not everyone is everyone’s cup of tea, so I did not get discourage from being rejected. It actually helped me getting use with not being chosen and I’d just shrug shoulders and say next. I’d say it’s more of the mentality of users. Some might be discouraged and lowered self-esteem by it, but if you believe strongly in yourself, nothing can affect you. :)

  5. I wasn’t on Tinder but a similar dating app, and YES I absolutely felt like crap when I was on it. I felt judged and the interaction I had with guys made me feel disposable. Almost all of them ended as ghosters, and I really believe it has to do with that mentality that if there are so many others why stop at this one? I was only on it for a few months, but that was enough and I deleted it. Since then I’ve felt my self esteem is back to normal. I feel happier and I’m feeling hopeful about guys again. I think this will carry on to going out more and just meeting guys in person.

  6. I used tinder once. Just to check it out and understand it, since I’m not looking for a hook up… It was disappointing. I found myself rejecting guys who seemed to have nice personalities but who I found unattractive. The ones I found attractive I had nothing in common with. It’s a very surface level, shallow way of judging ppl.

  7. It is indeed depressing to use tinder (I live in Europe not in the US), and I have been thinking about deleting my account lately. I do match with plenty of men, I do not feel rejection in the same sense as in the article.

    My problem is that those men do not see beyond physical appearance and they just want sex. I am tired of being looked at as a sex object. Some men are straight forward about it and tell you that they are only interested in sex before meeting you, others expect sex on first date or the second. If you refuse, they unmatch you.

    Those men make me feel abused. Even a tinder text with sex proposals makes me feel violated. I am not a prude, I am just looking for a man who respects my body and my intellect.

    1. From my point of view ALL man always want is sex… Now, it’s up to you as a woman of value to make them see you are not only that. It’s about how long you keep your legs closed and how you address men in order to avoid those situations. Believe me, I’m a model that has been in men’s magazine in my underwear, what they see at first is sex, you just have to let them down on that and show them all the other great things you have inside. Xoxo!

  8. Hi..Mr.mathew..i discovered you recently.. you are great ..thanks alot for your videos.. it is really useful and practical..i will try it all.. thank you very much..

  9. I briefly installed Tinder (and also Bumble). I found myself swiping left on people I felt were “out of my league” and too attractive, as I didn’t want the rejection. But I found that most of the matches ended up not responding to messages, or “ghosting” after communicating back and forth, which is far worse of a feeling than someone swiping left initially. After an interaction, when you get rejected, you feel like you must have said or done something wrong, and that has strongly impacted my self-esteem in a negative way. I deleted Tinder, but am still on Bumble – although I’ll likely delete that as well.

  10. I actually felt good about myself after using tinder. I didn’t get a lot os matches, but At least I liked the ones that I gor. I usually am aproached by man I don’t feel atracted to at all, so I was wondering if there was something wrong with me. In Tinder I pick guys I find good looking enough but also seem to be nice (not the ones whose photos are unnatural, or the ones showing abs that seem to be in love just with themselves… Pictures with friends or doing something interesting are more atractive) and whose profiles make me interested or make me laugh. I wasn’t expecting no matches at all (there was something wrong with me, in real life this kind of guy never aproaches me), so when I got two or three I felt beyond good. Even if none of the matches ended up working out, the possibility of geting to know someone I might like gave me hope

  11. Yet, it felt like a shopping catalogue at first. Name, picture, age, job. That’s why a funny profile is key. It makes the guy more human.

  12. I’ve leaned that when it comes to online dating, I can’t really place any hope or excitement in it. I’ll swipe right and if I get a message great! If I don’t, I’m putting myself out there in one other way in hopes of finding “the one”! Self acceptance comes from within. Using anything, especially matches on tinder, as a source of validation is a very bad idea!

    I have been guilty of what you’re talking about before and it takes the fun out of the connections you do get because they never seem good enough.

    The truth is, the grass isn’t always greener. Get to know the ppl you do match with and hopefully it’ll pay off! :D

    1. Wise words Carrie. I think investing in a few people with whom you have a connection is much more effective than always looking for another person.

    2. I agree Carrie! I think that’s the problem with dating apps. We dismiss ppl too quickly without investing, as you mention. Women are too quick to hold their standards as a shield and not give anyone a chance. I love your thoughts on this. You are right on!

  13. Tinder made me feel amazing about myself. After spending 5 years with a husband who mostly called me fat or was cheating on me, I found that on Tinder I could still attract all sorts of extremely attractive guys from 20 up to 40. (BTW I’m 36, 5’10”, 160 lbs). It was so much of an ego boost I ended up deleting it bc I found a guy I actually liked and found it to be annoying.

  14. I Just happen to love tinder… Whenever I do swipe right I get a match immediately… Then I just get to know them over the app and if I really get an interesting conversation going I will give them my number. Other wise is as easy as “unmatch”. And if after a few weeks conversation is still interesting I’ll set up a date for coffe or a play and dinner or a standup comedy show… I know guys always come up to me for my looks but tinder helps me have them talking to me to realize that I’m not only pretty, but smart and sensitive and entertaining, and I actually made a lot of friends (not boyfriends) tho I’m not looking for a boyfriend right now either… Just someone to hang out with :)

    1. Nice María! It’s good to hear from both sides of the spectrum on this debate. I think you’re right that conversation is the best test for the person you’re really getting. My advice is definitely to have a few chats *before* meeting up.

  15. I’ve come off online dating altogether as my self-esteem suffers when I’m on it. I also get this feeling of settling as I’ve invested time into someone so might as well give it a go. This is not who I am or who I want to be so decided online dating is simply not for me. I’m giving real-life a go.

  16. Hey Stephen! Loved the article…but, I would never use Tinder…I have read an article on tinder…& it was actually interviewing the 20..30 somethings that use it…It was not an article praising it by any means…it was showing how sex is dealt with so casually…and it is a *uck site…Pardon the bad word..but, it talked about “*uckboys”..Tindercellas..and so & so on…I would never go on a site that is nothing but a “booty call” site…It’s all bad! I guess I am “old school” …but, I don’t regret it…if this is what the youngins’ are doing…I do have respect for myself & would never participate in a website like that…that is nothing but, swiping through pages of pages of people…for the reason of a *uck! I find it rather disprespectful & degrading..if you ask me…But, it takes 2! Right?? I would never do it! That is NOT romance to me…I would rather meet someone…converse to find out who the person is…& not be expected to “give it up” at the end of the night…That is NOT my style… I am a Hi-Value woman…and would never conduct myself in that manner…Yikes! The youngins’ can have that crap! NOT for this gal! Just saying….Thanks for the article!
    ;) <3 Hugs!

    1. lol thanks Julie. I don’t know if *everyone* on Tinder can be be tarred with that brush but I take your point that it can be tedious to sift through all the crap on the way to someone normal.

      Thanks for commenting!

      1. You’re welcome Stephen…I know it is not all about the “booty call”…but, funny…such a coincidence…One of the gals from The Retreat posted an article on our Retreat page…& it was mostly about Tinder..& mentioning the other similar sites…I found it rather eye-opening…Just because I don’t know anything about those sites…Plus, I’m too old to be on sites like that…My Goodness…I am going to be 55 this year…So…I was quite surprised that the 20, 30 somethings that were interviewed …Were so openly blatant about this topic..The true “shocker” was that the young men interviewed said…They wouldn’t bring home a gal like that to meet Mom?? Isn’t that a double standard…still?? In this day & age…So you would “shag her”..but, you wouldn’t respect her enough to bring her home to meet your Mum?? (I know you Brits spell Mom differently)..LOL! A little taken aback about the whole thing…& the young women feeling the same way…Too busy with their careers..not wanting a serious relationship…& happy jumping from bed to bed?? Did I miss something?? Yikes! Just a bad commentary on what’s happening right now! I don’t think that is progress…I think that is taking so many steps back..No wonder why a lot of the young gals are so discouraged with the dating scene?? Dick pics…the list goes on & on… I didn’t even know guys were posting crap like that?? I must be naïve?? Yikes! Excuse my ignorance about this topic…I had NO idea?? Sheesh!

        1. Stephen…If you get a chance…Read this article from Vanity Fair…It’s called “Tinder & The Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse” by Nancy Jo Sales…VANITYFAIR.COM…I was sent this by a Retreat Sister…You might find this article interesting….

  17. Hey Stephen,

    It was the opposite for me, I get loads of matches so it’s very validating but I still deleted the app as it just drove me nuts having to converse via text with people.
    The other problem I had is that most of the guys on there are SUPER BORING and can’t hold a conversation which is probably why they’re on there in the first place. No kidding, the most simple answers to open ended questions and flirting possible. And when you ask them about their interests you get. Lot of “oh not much I just chill out….” Kind of answers….
    That being said, I live in a city that has a reputation of being a glorified country town so a lot of people are in their comfort zones and don’t do anything new/different and it’s hard to meet NEW people sometimes so it was interesting to actually talk to people who don’t already know people I know etc.
    Anyway that was my brief foray.

    1. Interesting Jayne, I definitely think women get much more quantity of matches (even if not quality) which is probably why it doesn’t lower self-esteem in the way it does for men. Definitely agree with your point that the lame conversations are a big drawback!

  18. I can’t keep up with All the guys messaging me. And I’m not even that great looking I mean I’m cute but I’m not a model. So actually it’s boosted my self-esteem!

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