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Love in the Time of Swipes: A Survival Guide for Dating App Users

Love in the Time of Swipes: A Survival Guide for Dating App Users

HealthReporter author Nadzeya Sankovich
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich | Fact checked by Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Last update: February 9, 2023
9 min

This article delves into the societal factors of dating app burnout and provides expert guidance on how to combat it. Embrace a balanced relationship approach with our list of the top 5 mental health-conscious dating apps.

A Survival Guide for Dating App Users

Society exerts immense pressure on single people. From childhood tales to widespread commercials, the message is clear: we must all seek out romantic partners.

Gone are the days when online dating carried a negative connotation, seen only as a last resort for the socially awkward. In 2019, 48% of millennials said they had never used a dating site or app.1

However, the reality of online dating can often be vastly different from what we imagine. Many struggle to find a meaningful, long-term relationship despite spending months swiping and messaging.

The exhaustion that comes with this search can eventually become a job in and of itself. When dating becomes work, it’s no surprise that emotional burnout often follows.

Falling Out of Love: 3 Main Causes of Burnout

#1 Time and energy consuming

One significant factor is the sheer amount of time and energy dating apps demand. Millennials devote an average of 10 hours each week to these platforms, making it a veritable part-time job.2

Millennials spend 10 hours a week on dating apps
Health Reporter edit

#2 Dopamine addiction

Dating apps manipulate our dopamine levels.3 Every match ignites the brain’s pleasure center, dopamine, fueling hope and anticipation. But if expectations are not met, the ride can come to a crashing halt, leaving you disappointed and fatigued.

The thrill of swiping has the user addicted to the pursuit, unable to break free from the constant search for that perfect match.

#3 Fear of missing out (FOMO)

The third factor fueling the dating app addiction is the FOMO monster – the constant fear of missing out on the next big thing.

Be it an exciting event, a golden opportunity, or the love of our life, FOMO keeps us on edge, never truly living in the moment. Dating apps only add fuel to the fire, keeping us in a state of perpetual anxiety.

Despite the lack of success, we can’t seem to hit delete, always asking ourselves, “What if?”

Causes of Dating App Burnout
Health Reporter edit

The Zero-Sum Game of Dating Apps

Many researchers believe Americans are becoming more alienated. Discovering it, we recently stumbled upon a captivating TikTok on The Social Recession essay.4, 5

The facts are staggering: Americans are experiencing a decline in close friendships and the number of sexual partners.

Gone are the days of having two or three close friends, as many individuals now only have one. And it’s not just America, as Japan and Europe have seen similar patterns emerge.

This social recession is believed to be fueled by the rise of zero-sum games in society, where one person’s gain comes at the cost of another’s loss.6 Can dating apps be considered zero-sum games? In short – yes, they are the perfect example.

Our lives now are increasingly being defined by platforms – from the food we eat to the way we travel, learn, work, communicate, and even find love.7 This platformized existence often breeds a cut-throat, winner-takes-all mentality.

Those at the top of the food chain have numerous partners, while others struggle to find the romantic connection they desire. Many feel that they cannot compete or that the competition is not worth it.

Such people opt out of hook-up culture and instead experience feelings of social isolation. They can’t find meaning and fulfillment in these zero-sum games.

Feelings of social isolation
Health Reporter edit

“When putting yourself on a dating app, you must realize that your mental health is much more significant than that playboy/girl who slipped into your DMs.

Put an end to waiting for the text back: It’s incredible how those three tiny dots can send the heart racing. This act alone has been found to induce burnout. Instead, stop checking your phone every five minutes. Do something to divert your attention – cooking, running or anything else that makes you happy.

Remember that talking to someone new ought to make you feel good on the inside. Be fully committed and ready for the date,” – says Michelle Giordano, a psychologist and community counselor for Live Another Day.

From Romance to Commodity: The Marketization of Dating

Dating burnout leads to focusing on swiping for new matches instead of connecting with current ones. It causes a loss of genuine connection ability since you begin to view profiles as mere objects.

Online shopping in virtual marketplaces allows people to easily select the features they desire in a product. This impacts the way people choose partners.

A researcher and dating coach Logan Ury notes that many of her clients engage in what she calls “relation shopping.” They shop for relationships similarly to how they would shop for goods online.

People tend to have a clear idea of their preferences as they age. For instance, they might want a redheaded partner over 5’7″ or a Jewish man with a graduate degree.

They turn to digital marketplaces and start filtering their options. Searching for a partner is treated with the same level of precision as shopping for a camera or Bluetooth headphones.

The Marketization of Dating
Health Reporter edit

Dating has been transformed into a fast-paced, high-stakes marketplace. “Consumers” sift through profiles like merchandise, and “sellers” use market research to craft the perfect pitch. The game is simple: be the one with the most alluring profile and watch the suitors come running.

The truth is that what we think we want is not always what we actually want. The spark of chemistry is unpredictable and can ignite between two people with seemingly nothing in common. Or conversely – it fails to materialize in seemingly perfect matches.

“Remain grounded in your sense of worth, not how someone can evaluate you. If you are looking for validation through dating apps, you are setting yourself up for pain and emotional volatility.

Know that you are intrinsically worthy just as you are, single or dating, and from that whole self, reach out to engage with others.

Evaluate whether the app brings you joy, stress, contentment, heartache, or pleasure. You can always come back to it after a time away to ground and center yourself,” – says Deborah Vinall, a doctor of psychology and a licensed family therapist with 20 years of experience.

Dating apps can also operate like a casino. To keep users addicted, the algorithm shows all the promising profiles within the first hundred swipes. Depending on the local population, after these swipes, what remains are usually inactive or weird profiles.8

“It’s important to recognize when dating apps have become an unhealthy crutch. If you feel overly anxious or are obsessed with getting likes and matches, it may be time to take a break and focus on other areas of life.

There’s nothing wrong with dating apps – they can be quite enjoyable. But make sure you’re taking care of yourself and not letting them take over your life,” – says Dr. Flora Sadri-Azarbayejani, the Medical Director at Psyclarity Health.

Mind Over Matter: The 5 Best Dating Apps for a Stress-Free Love Search

Surprisingly, 13% of app users got engaged or married, proving that sometimes a little technology can go a long way in the search for true love.9

“Don’t worry about finding “the one” right away. Some people rush into things because they feel they will miss their chance or never find love. But finding the right person takes time and patience.

It’s better to take it slow than rush into something you’re not ready for. Slow and steady wins the race!” – says Becca Smith, Chief Clinical Officer at Basepoint Academy.

If you still believe in the magic of dating apps, find one that fits you. Luckily, there are more and more mental health friendly dating apps available.

These apps, such as those for slow dating, prioritize quality over quantity in interactions and matches. They move away from the “judge a book by its cover” mentality and promote deeper, longer-lasting relationships.

Here is the Health Reporter team’s carefully curated selection:


The Thursday dating app streamlines the dating process by only being available on its namesake day. Users have 24 hours to connect with potential matches through chat and set up real-life meetings.

  • Available only on Thursdays
  • Meet on the same day you match
  • $ Free, offers in-app purchases
Learn More


The app offers one highly curated match per day. Users have a 24-hour window to start a conversation through a one-time message. If the connection is mutual, they can continue the conversation as long as desired.

Moreover, the app’s rating system empowers women to review the profiles, chats, and dates they’ve had with men.

  • 1 personalized daily match
  • 24 hours to connect with the person
  • Members’ rating system
  • $ Free, offers in-app purchases
Learn More


In this app, users receive daily personalized recommendations with one catch: all photos of matches are blurred. As conversations continue, images become progressively clearer, revealing a potential match in full.

The convenient “selfie filter” feature also prompts users to take a selfie every time they access the app. The selfie is compared to images in the user’s profile to confirm identity and ensure accurate representation.

Yet, the question remains. Will users be willing to engage in a lengthy discussion with a potential match they may not find attractive?

  • Speak first, look later
  • Personalized recommendations for matches
  • “Selfie filter” feature
  • $ Free, offers in-app purchases
Learn More

At Coffee Meets Bagel

According to the developers, 91% of their users seek a serious relationship. Good news – there are no swipes here!

The “bagel” algorithm selects a small group of top prospective matches. Upon mutual liking, you and your “bagel” can initiate a conversation using tailored icebreakers. If you both sense a connection, the app encourages you to meet in person for a real date.

At Coffee Meets Bagel
  • Tailored icebreakers
  • A limited number of potential personalized matches
  • $ Free, offers in-app purchases
Learn More


Hinge matches users only with people they have mutual Facebook friends with. Also, users can take mini-quizzes to find people with similar interests. The app offers a limited number of matches per day (around 20), making it a more curated dating experience.

  • Meet friends of friends
  • Create mini quizzes for dates
  • $ Free, offers in-app purchases
Learn More


Not all advancements come without controversy. Take the celebrity dating app Raya for instance.10 The app is said to accept only 8% of applicants, making it more selective than admission to either Oxford or Cambridge universities.11

Raya screenshots
Health Reporter edit

On the one hand, Raya provides celebrities with a more convenient way to find love. Conversely, it shatters all the ethical borders by implying the “I won’t date you if you’re not famous” principle. When relationships turn into a market, Raya becomes the equivalent of a high-end boutique.

“Remember, love does not depend on social status or other external factors. Focus on your feelings and values as they serve as your guide on your journey.

If you feel unsure, seek help from those close to you, such as family and friends. They can provide valuable support and be a great source of entertainment and distraction from dating apps,” – says Megan Tangradi, a certified clinical trauma professional and the clinical director at Achieve Wellness and Recovery.

Final Words

The quest for love in the digital age has presented us with both blessings and curses.

While dating apps have expanded our options and made it easier to connect with people, they have also given rise to a sense of dating burnout among many. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the search for love is a journey, not a destination.

Instead of getting bogged down by dating expectations, take a moment to reflect on yourself. Cultivate your interests, invest in self-care, and strive to become the better version of yourself.

Embrace the idea that love is not a missing puzzle piece but a mirror that reflects your growth and evolution, held by a person who supports your dreams.

So keep the faith, trust in the journey, and let the magic unfold in its own time.

HealthReporter author Nadzeya Sankovich
Written by
Nadzeya Sankovich is a professional journalist. She delivers high-quality, well-researched articles, making them clear, compelling, and easy to read. With a lifelong passion for the health and wellness industry, Nadzeya wants to make health knowledge accessible to everyone.
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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  1. Mathew 10 Feb, 2023 at 5:45 am
    10 Feb, 2023 at 5:45 am

    Quite recently was observing the feeling of frustration when using Tinder. Great alternatives!


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