Low self -esteem, devalued love: How online dating can damage mental health

“I used to think that being alone was the worst thing that could happen to me, I realized that using a popular dating app was even worse for my self-confidence”, began Sabrina *, 32 years old.

After the first relationship of five years, the young woman began to PERSONAL DATE on the line. He discovered a world where “[s]our ego is magnified every time the application opens “and it is quickly understood that he can now write his love life à la carte. Nothing could be more normal if you knew that now in France, the French Federation of dating reports 1.74 million active visitors to Tinder alone (i.e. 2.6% of the population in France).

However, within months, the young woman “lost her leg”. “Already, I realized that it was almost impossible to find someone who was 100% real. And It has this sense of competition with my friends who are also in the apps and have received a lot of likes. I’m not saying it went bad, but almost, ”the young woman recalled.

And many users attest to this impression. If dating apps are attractive in the beginning, it is better to sow the seeds of insecurity and excessive consumption of love here among us.

So how do you defend your explanation of finding love online? Marion Blique, clinical psychologist who specializes in attachment, author of I quit toxic relationships (Ed. Eyrolles) enlightens us.

The revolutionary romantic encounter

“We don’t have to rock, because there are pros and cons to these applications. In the past, we only had access to friends of friends, to random encounters … For millennia, we married people who close to us. Suddenly, we have access to the whole world. We can’t blame its enthusiasts ”, Marion Blique began.

Especially since the beginning of their use, these games application seems a little too much for us. Finally, we have to “just swipe” the screen from left to right to meet people we wouldn’t have seen before without these algorithms. There is nothing wrong, on paper.

Especially for some people, it’s a tool that can help build trust. “People who are isolated – geographically or mentally – can benefit from it. It gives freedom to people with image problems, because starting a conversation online is faster than in real life. it’s a way to test your ability to please without suffering too much “the specialist argued.

But here the shoe holds. Even if loneliness or embarrassment is suppressed by dating apps, there will come a time when these same tools will strike at our inner selves. “The sense of self comes from the way we are portrayed. If we are portrayed in these applications, we will thirst for an enlarged self, made of emptiness and want. It is impossible to build a true sense of self” , continued Marion Blique.

Its flesh is empty, love is gone

And in this virtual universe where everything is in augmented reality, it’s complicated to solve to be 100% honest.

Maxence is 25 years old. She’s been on dating apps for “at least 7 years” and she thinks, for her, it’s a business rather than a real quest for the love of her life. “Of course, I’m open, because one-night stands have become redundant, but I know I’m looking under a false‘ identity ’, and so it doesn’t end like that,” he admitted.

If the young man is not a catfish -someone with a fake profile pretending to be someone else online-he meant looking at dating sites as competition and “[s]’sell there. It’s a little sad but it’s the reality, it’s almost a game to some of my friends ”, reports one who says paying a monthly subscription to Bumble to see his enlarged profile.

A behavior that seems harmless, but inspires – and is encouraged by – the occurrence of excessive consumption of love. It raises new concerns, such as this new “fear” expressed by The New York Times in 2018: “the fear of a better option”, translating in this context “the suspicion that the next person swiped is a better option”.

Because, from the proliferation of applications to the thousands of profiles to be found, this concern urges us to swipe forever and ever until now without giving up on ourselves. , for the loss of a “better” person that may occur afterwards.

“We’re in a commercial market and we count people by their appearance, age, sexual orientation … These platforms force us to shorten ourselves. To connect, that stays our values. “, Marion Blique agreed.

The objectified body, comparisons are inevitable

And it is in this context that bodies end up being targeted – at ourselves and others. Amélie* is just 19 years old and “grew up with and with apps”. He explained that he has been active there since the start of high school, that is his 14 years (usually the latter is reserved for 18 years and up).

“At first I didn’t have to look for a story, it is to act like my friends. It is very satisfying to receive so many wants in one day ”, explained the young student.

“Like social networks, it’s a race for popularity. With a different challenge, that of loving pleasure. Unfortunately, we always compare, while the big problem with this virtual reality is that ‘he’s not reliable. But, we’re likely to forget him, so if you are rejected online, it is the power of ten “Marion Blique argued.

“My first ghosting too many tears, too violent to see the person’s profile active, when he blocks you for no reason ”, Amélie confirmed.

However, the young woman says “her profile cannot be deleted”. And that the psychologist is not surprised, even though they hurt us, the old apps taste like coming back. “Whether it’s on social media or dating app all addictive because it is created with algorithms that initiate this desire to return. It is inevitable to cut it ”, he warned.

Amélie confirmed – after verifying her statements via the screen time report on her phone – it’s the average eight hours a week she spends on Tinder.

In the trivialization of violent behavior

And this addictive tendency makes our psyche more vulnerable. “Well, we’ve forgotten about it but physically it’s so dangerous, you can invite people into your house or go to the person without knowing their past. These are huge risks (physical danger, infections) passed into fornication), pointed out by Marion Blique.

Then our mental health is affected, multiple failures in applications can lead to fear of leaving, depression, even depression or the development of eating disorders..

“We feel that these sites represent our value. So if it doesn’t work for us, we automatically think we have a problem,” the expert reported.

According to him, many are defeated and agree to do things they don’t want to do (some sex acts, sending naked). “It’s time to leave the group, and if you know the evils of online harassment, slutshaming and blackmail, we know this is a real problem to be solved ”, he insisted.

Added to this violence is the violence of sex messages and dickpics (aka unsolicited penis pics). On these platforms, the idea of ​​cyber-consent does not exist. According to a study by the University of Kent, it reported The Keeper in December 2021, it one in four women who have already received messages or photos of a sexual nature “without any request”.

Illegal behavior is irrelevant as “50% of teenage girls who receive these images say they have not reported these violations”. A “character” confirmed by Amélie, who explains that she receives a few each month.

Recovering a healthy love relationship

But then, in the face of so many wrongdoings, shall we say stop online dating? It seems our mind takes care of it, if we believe the emerging popularity of the expression tired boyfriend – emotional and physical exhaustion of romantic encounters.

“There’s an illusion of abundance on these platforms. But quickly, you realize that you’re alone and that love doesn’t work for everyone,” summarizes journalist Julie Beck for The Atlantic in 2016.

And the worry of this fatigue of our psyche and this weakness, it’s also that we move away from the idea that a healthy relationship can exist. “For young people who are just familiar with this dating model, it’s more complicated. It is always the immediate pleasure that pushes us to seek out more, but it is the opposite of a gradual deepening or a gradual entry into a relationship.“, Explained Marion Blique.

However, it is impossible to erase this new movement in romantic encounters, because it has become a democracy.

“We can’t get rid of it because we’re all connected and it’s someone looking for another. After all, we don’t have to demonize, but put filters in place, knowing that it’s all an augmented reality and test that not to do. just so as not to get too lost. In the end, just don’t trust that, because there are still many times encounters will happen then we all know and couple that will last thanks to these networks “, smiles the psychologist.

In fact, when Sabrina told us at the beginning of her withdrawals of dating applications, when she turned to a more selective platform that only offers one profile per day, it fits. And it still works, four years later. “I gave birth to a beautiful baby who wouldn’t have been born without this application, so I always qualify if I recommend – or not – virtual love to a friend”, smiles the young mother.

* Other names have been changed

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