How Swipe Apps Encourage Addiction, Not Genuine Connection

December 21, 2021

Dating has changed greatly over the past ten years. Online dating has evolved toward an efficiency model that has matured into swipe apps and there have been consequences for this change. You might have thought that online dating was impersonal before, but swipe apps take this to a whole new level.

People have grown used to shopping online and swipe apps make dating just like shopping. Dating apps are addictive these days and the connection between the mentality that accompanies shopping online has become part of the dating experience. It’s all too easy these days to pass up on someone based on the most superficial of reasons, rather like choosing not to engage with an advertisement that we see in our Facebook newsfeed.

If you want to learn more about why dating apps are addictive, you should read on!

How Swipe Apps Have Changed Dating

It’s getting to the point where most of us no longer know anyone who experienced dating the old-fashioned way. Your parents might be able to tell you about days where boys asked girls out to the movies and they went with excitement to get to know one another at diners or drive-ins. The personal aspect of dating was the entire goal and everyone was hoping to get to know more about their date during the activity that was dating.

Now that swipe apps have entered the scene, you will find that it’s hard to make authentic connections with people that you are trying to date. There is no direct way to build trust with the people that you are dating and the endless swiping, the terrible and disheartening fake profiles, the shock value and the terrible first dates are all part of the mind-numbing reality that is swipe app dating.

Swiping, matching, messaging—it all starts to feel futile. The dopamine hit of passing by the people that you are shopping for is real. You are addicted and you are collecting numbers, Instagram handles, and Twitter IDs with abandon. You are not connecting with people in any real way. You are just adding to your social media followers.

Quality over quantity is the name of the game and you have realized that you are tired. You want a connection, not another Facebook page to follow. You want a sense of connection and belonging. There is nothing wrong with being tired of swiping and talking online but never getting to really know anyone.

Is it Just About Hook-Ups?

You might have realized that most of the people who are using swipe apps are mostly using them to find quick hookups. This is the state of the modern dating reality and if people who hook up want to try to get to know one another better, they will move on from this first interaction to what might be more meaningful connection building.

The trouble with assuming that you can navigate the shark-infested waters of swipe apps to try and find other people like yourself who are looking for connection is that the chances of having time to realize that you like someone’s company are so slim. The attention span of the modern dating reality has gotten so small due to the ease with which you can just keep swiping to find something better.

While you might know that this new person is not necessarily better, you might be hoping that this is the person that you will connect with. That this is the person who will enjoy your company and share your life. It is entirely up to you if you are using swipe apps to feed your addiction for what’s next or if you are using them to try and connect with people on a deeper level.

While there is nothing objectively wrong with meeting people to hook up on swipe apps, there are actually people using these apps to meet people they want to take seriously. This should be a factor that everyone remembers when they are looking for a hook-up on a swipe app. You do not want to hurt someone’s feelings who is just looking for a life partner or someone to share their life with.

Why Do Swipe Apps Lead to Addiction?

Swipe apps lead to addictive behavior because they depend on a psychological concept that is called variable ratio reinforcement. The rewards for clicking or swiping in swipe apps are variable. This means that you are tapping into the kind of behavior that leads to gambling addiction when you are using them frequently. You might find a hookup or you might be on your phone for hours looking for someone to engage with.

This variable ratio reinforcement is one of the most effective ways that we can reinforce behaviors of all kinds and this is one of the biggest influences on the success of swipe apps. While you might not realize that this is the rewarding process that is being used against you as you shop for your next date, you will eventually be influenced by the powers of the variable-ratio reinforcement experience.

What Are Some Reasons That This is Not Healthy?

Beyond the obvious reasons that include emotional injuries due to being stood up, treated poorly by people that you are trying to date, or connecting with people that offer nothing in the way of meaningful connection, there are other concerns that you should keep in mind.

Grindr has announced that it will start sending out reminders to get tested for STIs and BuzzFeed made it public that Grindr has been sharing HIV status with third-party companies. These kinds of private information being shared around the internet, combined with the risks that you are exposing yourself to when you engage in sexual activities with people that you do not know, can all add up to a lot of risks.

Suicides are on the rise due to the events of the pandemic and there have been concerning studies that indicate that suicides connected with swipe dating apps are also on the rise. This shows clearly that becoming involved with dating apps is not always the healthiest activity overall.

Swipe Apps Are Leading to a Treatment Crisis

Mental health professionals are concerned about the number of people that they are treating for swipe app addiction. There is not much in the way of published information about how to treat this condition and doctors are feeling like they are not sure how to help those who are suffering from this condition.

Becoming part of the group of people who are not interested in giving up their lives to swipe app dating is an important first step in the process of divorcing yourself from this problematic dating arrangement. For those who want to have a human connection, even with people they only date once, swipe apps are potentially harmful to their mental wellbeing.

The frustration of dealing with the constant disappointment of meeting people who lied on their profiles, people who are only interested in hookups and people who are not interested in the same things as you are can lead to long-term mental anguish and damage.

Experts are concerned about the effect that this kind of app is having on the very young people who are using them. Swipe apps are open to those who are willing to lie about their age, and many teens report that they have hooked up with other teens or met people that they went on questionable dates with through these apps. This is just as concerning as the potential emotional damage done to those who wish to have meaningful connections associated with their dating experiences.

Swipe Dating Apps Are Not a Great Way to Build Connections


If you are looking for an old-fashioned dating experience that is full of human connection and genuine efforts to get to know one another, you should not count on swipe apps to make that easy for you. Swipe apps make everything limited down to a profile picture and a few brief sentences of information. This leads to all kinds of confusion and makes the whole process dehumanizing.

Many people who want to have a real human connection in their dating experience are withdrawing from online dating options. There is something mechanized and uncomfortable about picking people to message online for a date as if this is how people would normally connect in real life. You would have a much more genuine experience if you were just running into people at the grocery store and asking them on dates than if you use swipe apps to take care of your dating needs.

We know that you feel exhausted. We know that you want to build a connection. We know that you want to belong. Intentional daters do not want to have to text back and forth and hope for a date someday. If you are ready to get to know a real person, you need to work with us.