Experts Reveal The Psychology behind Dating App Addiction

Experts Reveal The Psychology behind Dating App Addiction


The world is a small place and this has also influenced how people find their romantic partner. There was a time when people got married only to people near their locality, with advancements in transportation, we were allowed to travel away and abroad to meet diverse people. After the invention of the internet, the boundaries for finding and connecting to new people almost vanished, one part of which is dating apps.

Dr Shailaja Pokhriyal, a Clinical Psychologist, says “When it comes to dating and relationships, young people from Generation Z want things to happen quickly. They don’t like waiting, so they use dating apps to find partners easily. Young people from Generation Z spend a lot of time online. Because of this, they tend to have many virtual friends, sometimes hundreds or even thousands. This is different from people who only have a few friends. A survey conducted by eHarmony found that a shocking nine in ten singles (90%) believe they are “addicted” to dating apps.”

Read More: Psychology of Romance


Match. by Gary Kremen an American entrepreneur, was the first ever website that provided people with a platform to date online. This website matches people based on their responses to a wide variety of questions. Match. Was very successful and it earned around 100000 within the first six months so it turned into a monthly subscription-based model soon.

The 21st century saw a rise in the usage of social networking sites and some websites like Friendster, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish gained popularity during this period. Then came the time of websites where dating websites changed their form to dating applications, a few of them being Hinge, Tinder, Bumble, etc.

The Reasons behind why Dating Apps can be Addictive

1. Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that can activate the reward system of the brain. Dopamine will be released when we indulge in pleasurable activities. Dating apps are made to elevate the mood by providing us with feelings of anticipation and excitement. When you get matched with someone your profile gets likes and compliments, and when you get a notification from the app all these can be why your brain gets filled with dopamine.

According to a senior consultant clinical psychologist, Dr. Ashima Srivastava, “People often turn to dating apps seeking validation for their appearance and other attributes. They crave instant feedback and validation, which they hope to receive through messages and interactions on the app. However, they often fail to realize that this virtual world is largely superficial and lacks authenticity. Moreover, dating apps provide a boost to self-esteem through encouraging messages and positive reinforcement. Each match and message received triggers a release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, further reinforcing addictive behaviour.

Read More: The Psychology of Addiction

2. Unpredictability 

When you download a dating app you won’t know how everything will end up. You will always be curious about the people that come into your feed, about who is going to match with you, about the first date with a person. Some people try their best to keep their profile attractive and attention-seeking, but this can pull your mind too. 

“One major driving force behind this addiction is the abundance of choices available on these platforms. Users fear missing out on potentially better matches, a phenomenon commonly referred to as FOMO (fear of missing out). This fear fuels addictive behaviour as individuals continuously swipe and engage in hopes of finding the perfect match.” Says Dr. Ashima

3. Instant remedy for loneliness

Loneliness can make people vulnerable and has the power to make you do actions that you have never done before. Many people end up on dating apps due to loneliness, this may be due to a recent breakup and the need to fill the void formed in your heart, maybe because you are struggling to find people to meet and chill in a new city. These apps can help you in building connections from various fields of varying interest. Such apps can help you at times but will not work for everybody, especially if you are sensitive and have the habit of easily believing and getting attached to people. 

Dr. Ashima explains that Another aspect contributing to addiction is social comparison. Users often compare themselves to others in terms of attractiveness, social status, and overall desirability, leading to a constant striving to measure up to perceived standards set within their own minds.

4. Escape

Imagine you are the most charming and desirable person in the world and everybody is dying to meet you, dating apps can give such a feeling to people using them. Some people use dating apps as a way to escape from reality. Your life will not fulfill all of your expectations and you turn this app into a platform where life is thrilling. You may use it as a tool to distract yourself from the negative events in your life.

Read More: Psychologists tell Why we are getting Addicted to Social Media

5. Endless and Flirting Licence

Dating apps provide an endless pool of potential connections, ensuring that if one interaction doesn’t click, there are countless others available. Plus, they offer a platform for indulging in the universal human desire for flirting, allowing users to engage with a wide range of individuals and explore romantic possibilities.

6. Gamification

Applications are gamified to make them more interesting and to increase engagement. Dating apps have various features like swiping, push notifications, complimenting, progress display, rewards, etc that look more like a game and less like a dating app.

How to put an end

If you feel that you are using dating apps a little too much then you should put in the effort to end it. Accept that you are using it a little too much and that it’s eating a significant part of the 24 hours. Track your usage and try to slowly reduce the number of hours spent. Switch off the notification for dating apps. Using a dating app is not a hobby so find out some productive activity for your leisure. If loneliness is your reason end up in dating apps, catch up with your old friends, talk to someone close to you, or you can even go for professional help. A dating app has very little chance of helping you find the love of your life the earlier you realize it sooner will you be better. 

However, relying too much on these apps can make them feel bad about themselves and end up feeling socially isolated. Depending solely on dating apps for social interaction can lead to a lack of real-world connections and meaningful relationships. This can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Shailaja Explains the Negative side of this addiction, “Using dating apps all the time can become a problem. They might start depending on them too much and find it hard to stop. It’s a quick and easy way for them to talk to many people without much effort. This addictive behaviour is characterized by compulsive swiping, messaging, and seeking validation through matches and interactions. This can interfere with daily life and responsibilities.”

She further states, “Engaging with strangers on dating apps can lead to the risk of exploitation. Some of them date different people casually without sticking to one relationship. Some even have open relationships, where they date multiple people at the same time. Additionally, dating apps affect the mental health of a person as they create a distorted perception of reality and are associated with increased levels of anxiety, depression, and stress, particularly among individuals who experience rejection or negative interactions on these platforms.”

Take Away

Dating applications may not work for everybody. Some people are not made for it. Before being a part of it be aware of your needs, know your personality, and also try to get a brief idea about such apps. Don’t fall for it if you are a very sensitive person and also have the habit of forming emotional attachments with others easily. Most of the people you will meet here will be just for casual relationships and don’t form a bond with them if you are not ready for it. You should also be genuine enough to state what you expect from the app. Maybe dating apps were made to help people find real love but in a world of situations, benching, cushioning, and pocketing all the others this will not be an easy journey.

“In essence, the allure of dating apps lies in the promise of validation, connection, and the thrill of the chase. However, the addictive nature of these platforms can have detrimental effects on mental health and overall well-being, as individuals invest significant time and emotional energy into a virtual realm that often fails to deliver genuine fulfilment.” Quotes Ashima.

Use every app wisely and don’t allow the app to make use of you.

References +
  • Pamanian, P. (n.d.). The evolution of online dating. Daily Sundial.
  • Sharma, D. (2024, April 19). The Swipe Pandemic: Are dating apps like Hinge, Bumble and Tinder pushing us to addiction? India Today.
  • Desk, T. L. (2024, March 5). ​What makes dating apps addictive ​. The Times of India.,the%20anticipation%20of%20a%20match.
  • Hronis, A. (n.d.). Dating apps are accused of being ‘addictive’. What makes us keep swiping? The Conversation.
  • Hodgins, A. K. (2020, November 5). I was addicted to dating apps. Here’s what happened when I deleted them for good. HuffPost.

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