Not gonna lie…
Dating on Tinder and Bumble can be some soul suckin’ business.
But if you’ve been wondering: Should I use a dating app?
My short answer is yes, IF you can keep a healthy relationship with the app, protect your mental health and not take the whole thing too seriously.
I found my current long-term relationship on Tinder so dating apps do really work if you’re looking to meet someone.
In fact, a 2019 Australia Talks National Survey found that 35% of couples surveyed met each other online, which was more than friends or work combined.
Dating apps aren’t just for hook-ups!
Despite having personal success with dating apps, my opinion of them remains mixed. There are definitely both advantages AND disadvantages.
In this post, I’m going to breakdown for you both the good and the bad of dating apps so you can make up your own mind whether they’re worth it or not.
I also share some of my top tips on the best way to use dating apps so you can minimise the downsides, protect your mental health and get the best out of online dating.
Why you shouldn’t use dating apps
1) They can be depressing
In the world of dating apps, you have to wade through a lot of chaff before you find the one decent profile.
It can be disheartening seeing how gross and unsuitable some (or even most) of the profiles are.
It may make you lose hope in humanity and whether you’ll ever be able to meet someone you like.
If you don’t think you can hack this, dating apps may not be for you.
2) They force you to focus on the superficial
Even though dating in real life can be superficial, it’s not quite as bad as being reduced to a profile page with your photos as the main criteria for yes/no.
At least in real life, even though looks and physical attraction do play a big part, you still get some say with your personality because you’re interacting with the other person.
It can be demoralising to be judged so superficially (I’m more than my looks god dammit!), and it can take a toll on your mental health if you’re not careful.
3) They can be time-consuming and a lot of work
The work of dating apps comes from having to swipe through so many profiles, having to reply to multiple (and often times boring) messages from people and having to make time for dates with people who may or may not be what you expect.
For example, on my first ever Tinder date, I knew as soon as I met the guy that I wasn’t into him. But I ended up having to stay for the whole date (we were playing mini-golf) because I felt bad.
That’s why I recommend going for something low-key and short like a coffee date or drink as a first meeting. That way you don’t have to sit there for hours if they’re not what you expect.
When you go on these kind of disappointing dates, online app dating can seem like a whole lotta work with very little reward.
4) They can become another time-sucker
Swiping left/right endlessly and getting matches can give you the same endorphin hit as scrolling through your social media feed.
Therefore, when using dating apps, you risk being sucked into a black hole for 4 hours only to emerge bleary eyed, wondering what happened.
If you’re trying to get work done, or do anything productive for that matter, it can add another layer of distraction you have to resist.
5) You won’t look forward to first dates
This was a really sad realisation for me.
In real life when you go on a first date you would dress up and get really excited. You’ve already met the person and liked them – that’s why you guys are going on a date duh.
But dating app first dates are different because you don’t know what you’re going to get.
I never looked forward to any of my dating app dates after the first few taught me the lessons.
Many people seem fine online but then when you meet them, they’re not what you expect (how old were you in that photo? Was that just a really good angle?) or there is zero chemistry from the get go.
It can be depressing putting in so much effort to look good, get ready and travel to your date for someone who turned out to be not-as-advertised, weird or even worse, a wanker.
Don’t expect butterflies and excitement for your first dates, more like dread and hope that they’re at least normal and you won’t be hugely disappointed.
Why use dating apps
Now that you’ve heard the bad, here’s what’s good about dating apps.
1) It widens your dating pool
Using dating apps widens your pool of potential dates significantly, which is always a good thing.
It also widens it outside your immediate social circle which is helpful if your social circle is small or you just want something different.
Sometimes dating is a numbers game and the more potential dates you go on, the more likely you’ll meet someone you really click with.
2) Convenient if you’re really busy (or lazy)
While dating apps can be time-consuming (depending on how much of a lease you give it on your life), they are generally less so than having to get dressed, do your makeup and go out to a party or single’s event.
They make it possible for your to grab your phone, set up a profile and be chipping away at your love life, all while chilling in front of Netflix.
3) Long-term relationships are possible
Like I mentioned, I found my boyfriend on Tinder and countless couples I know have met via online dating.
Dating apps do work for finding real relationships, you just have to be strategic about it (which I cover in my tips on how to best use dating apps below).
It’s now socially acceptable to online date so nearly all singles are on Tinder. You’re not just meeting sad weirdos – normal people looking for relationships are using dating apps too!
4) Newly single? Dating apps provide great dating practice
If you’ve been out of the dating game for a while, using dating apps can be an easy and accessible way to get some dating practice in.
I used them that way when I became newly single after a 7-year relationship, and learnt a lot quickly about what I liked and disliked in potential dates.
It’s easy to meet a wide range of people in a short amount of time so you can go on multiple dates to quickly brush up your dating skills and boost your confidence.
Best way to use dating apps – my top tips
Based on my 2 years of single life and experience using multiple dating apps, these are my top tips on how to make dating apps yo’ bitch and not the other way round!
1) Experiment with different dating apps
If you got on Tinder and hated it, don’t give up on dating apps just yet!
I encourage you to try at least one other app because there is definitely a different crowd and culture on each app.
If you’re not having much luck on one app, another app might have types of people you like better.
I personally tried Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happn and Hinge.
I found that Coffee Meets Bagel had more corporate professional types, Bumble was dudes who liked to wakeboard/snowboard and Tinder was a mixed bag.
If I had to choose, I would say Tinder and Hinge were my favourite.
Tinder because it’s the most well known so everyone is on it. You therefore get the widest range of people types on there. This suited me as I’m not that conventional in my views.
Even though I only used Hinge for a week, it seemed like it had better quality guys than Tinder.
This may be because it has many mandatory profile fields you have to fill in and requires you to be descriptive. This may do a better job at filtering out people who aren’t serious and just want a low effort hook-up.
2) Set a daily time limit for using the dating app and don’t go over it
If you’re not careful, you can lose half your life to swiping on dating apps. Like social media, they can get addictive and compulsive. Just one…more…profile…
To overcome this, tell yourself you’re going to commit to, for example, 10 mins swiping a day and ONLY spend that amount of time. Do it in front of the telly or after dinner.
Another advantage of this technique is it helps to set you up psychologically not to see dating apps as the be all and end all of your dating life; It’s just another tool you can make a small space for in your life and doesn’t require much effort from you.
You then won’t have unrealistic expectations about what online dating can deliver, as sometimes the answer can be…not much.
Which leads me to…
3) Make sure your expectations are realistic
This one is for your mental health.
Don’t take dating apps overly seriously and pin all your hopes on them as the answer to finding a relationship because that may, or may not, happen.
Honestly, it can get pretty demotivating and depressing at times when you either don’t get matches, or all the profiles that pop up are ones you’d never touch in a thousand years with a loooooong stick.
It’s like…is this the pool I have to choose from? Is this what’s out there in the dating world?
Have realistic expectations and you won’t get disappointed.
I find it most useful to view online app dating as just another channel to add to your dating arsenal.
Remember, you can still meet people in many other ways – through work, friends and family, attending events, doing things you like and just getting on with day-to-day life.
Don’t get lazy about working on those other real life channels too.
Dating apps are just one of several options you have.
4) Stop swiping after you get a handful of matches
Focus on getting to know these matches instead.
I know it can be tempting to keep swiping to gain ever more matches but I wouldn’t recommend it.
It quickly gets overwhelming when you have too many conversations going and replying to them all can feel like a chore.
Just have 2-3 conversations going at a time so you can genuinely focus on them. It ensures you’re giving each match the attention it deserves rather than constantly eyeing off what’s across the fence.
Getting to know the people you match with is what will lead to a relationship, not gaining as many matches as you can.
5) Make your first date low-commitment
I already shared my experience of my first ever Tinder date and how disappointing it was.
I learnt through that experience (and the many that followed) to make first dates low key and low effort.
It’s just a real downer when you get yourself dolled up or make a huge effort to get to the date, only to find there is zero chemistry.
If you keep it casual, you won’t wind yourself up or put too much pressure on the situation.
Keep it short. Go on a pre-date – meet for a coffee, grab an ice cream or a walk around the neighbourhood.
You don’t want to end up stuck with someone for several hours on a dinner date when you know as soon as you meet them you don’t want to be there.
6) Know your deal breakers
This tip is not only useful for app dating but dating in general.
Deal breakers are things that you absolutely must have in a relationship and know if you didn’t get, the relationship would never work. For example it could be the ability for your partner to give you emotional support, an intellectual connection, kindness or sexual chemistry.
You really shouldn’t have that many deal breakers – maybe 3 or 4.
When you know what your deal breakers are, it will save you time going on endless dates and pursuing, or being pursued, by people who aren’t right.
In the thick of the dance of love, when you’re being flattered by the attention or they’re really good-looking or funny, it can be hard to make a call on whether you should continue dating someone or not. It’s easy to lose your head.
That’s why having a clear understanding beforehand of your deal breakers and what you’re looking for in a partner really helps with this.
If your date doesn’t meet these deal breakers, stop seeing him immediately (no matter how gorgeous he is) because you know that it would never work. Unless, of course, you don’t mind wasting time.
7) Change your perspective on ‘disappointing’ dates
One valuable eye-opener for me when I first started using dating apps and going on dates was discovering how different people can be from me. I didn’t fully appreciate this until I met these people.
It sounds obvious but no matter how ‘different’ you think you are to your friends and normal social circles, you guys are still way more similar than the rest of the population.
The sheer range of people out there is astounding and I think there is value in being able to connect with people you wouldn’t normally ever probably meet.
If you guys don’t click or it’s a disappointing date, instead of viewing it as a waste of time, view it as an opportunity you had to get to know another fellow human being. You learnt about them, expanded your worldview and the fact you connected with someone, even for a little while, is worthwhile.
If you would like more specific advice on setting up your dating profile to attract a long-term relationship, see: How I Found a Serious Relationship on Tinder (Learn My Best Bio Tips)
Should you use dating apps?
Dating apps are a great way to expand your pool of potential suitors and despite popular belief, do work for finding long-term relationships. Most couples actually meet online these days.
However, the caveat is that you have to be able to keep a healthy relationship with using dating apps and protect your mental health. If you’re not careful, they can play havoc with your self-esteem, and become time-consuming, demoralising drains.
If this happens, then dating apps may not be for you. It’s not worth sacrificing your mental health for your dating life. There are plenty of effective offline ways to meet people and you have a great chance of finding love without dating apps too.
In general though, if the above is not a problem for you, I would recommend dating apps as a channel to add to your dating arsenal.
The more channels you have in dating, the more people you can meet and the higher the chance of finding someone you click with.
Employ the tips I give above to overcome the downsides of dating apps and give them a go. What have you got to lose?
Have you used dating apps before? What was good and what was bad about the experience? Let me know in the comments below!