Am I thriving on Tinder? How has Dating Apps affected my Mental Health?

Heyyy

I’ve had this in my drafts since the start of August, I’ve been toying with the reality that writing this could cause me more problems than show the benefits. However, as previously mentioned I’ve been single for a very long time and so for me dating apps have been a part of my journey through my mental health and to self-love. I am in no way trying to attack these apps or even the genuine connections some have got through them, this is my story and my journey. 

I’ve been on tinder since before I was actually allowed, I believe I first got it just before I was seventeen. Back then you had to link it to your Facebook, and I remember creating a different tinder so all of those interests from when I was young and stupid wouldn’t show. I rarely used it back then, I was moderately innocent and didn’t think much other than how funny it was. When I got to university, I was so anxious, I’d been around the same people for so long rarely meeting new individuals that the idea of being at a university with no one I knew was utterly terrifying. I began using tinder properly and actively spoke to people on the app, I was quite secure with my figure, less so with my mental state back then, and so I loved the attention tinder gave me. The compliments fuelled my confidence which for so long had been completely flattened. I barely met anyone from the app, at the start it was out of fear and then I think it plateaued into this state of not caring. As mentioned before a lot of effort came from debunking rumours of me sleeping around, I was a virgin. But more importantly I didn’t care, my life didn’t revolve around a social construct and it still doesn’t. 

I tend to quit and delete tinder when I go home to London, I never really wanted to meet someone off it whilst I was at home around my parents. I didn’t feel like I had the levels of confidence to just tell my parents straight out that I was going on a date from tinder. I still wouldn’t say that now. In second year, things changed, in a change of events I drunkenly lost my virginity (I have no regrets about this at all) and then a month later met someone. Now I didn’t want to mention specific stories but considering me and the guy can laugh about it now I feel like this story is important. I have commitment problems the size of a planet, I don’t know if they’ll ever go and a lot of that comes from past relationships and my own mental instability.

November 2018 a guy messaged me, having previously been aired as he’d popped up with the simple sentence ‘nice tits lol’ six months before, I don’t know what made me respond to the message. It was a week after my friend had passed and I was in an emotional state, I began speaking to this guy and to be honest I don’t know what it is and I’m sure it’s not just me but there’s just something so attractive about someone who can be both delicate but still rip the sh*t out of you. Our conversations fuelled by our differing political outlooks, our aspirations and dreams quickly ended up in deep infatuation. My body began reacting to his awake hours and I was more commonly awake at the crack of dawn and asleep by half ten, I broke down my walls for him and revealed things that no one knew. I spoke about my birthday and how important that day was for me, I told him about my diagnoses and how it’d impacted me. He opened my eyes to new things, and I owe him for forcing me to watch Peaky Blinders (Tommy Shelby is utter heart eyes). It turned sour after the new year and on my birthday, he blocked me, he came back admitting he’d fallen in love etc. and then would weave in and out of speaking to me for two months. Some days were good, and I felt like we were on track and some days I’d not stop crying. In March I found out he had a girlfriend; she was travelling, and he was using me to ignore the reality of it all. 

I’m not an expert on heartbreak, that was my first time. I’d never felt like such a mug and I know that it wasn’t my fault but how did I not pick up on those red flags. My depression was bad as it was and this only made it worse, I can’t explain how dark that feeling was but if falling in love leads to that emotion, I don’t want it ever again. That summer I got back in contact with him, at the beginning I’d say it was for closure, but the honest truth was I wanted answers. Why me? Few months down the line I find out it was never his real name, wasn’t even his face that I’d been speaking to. I’d literally been catfished. I mean now I can laugh about it but I couldn’t believe it’d happened to me, me of all people- I literally used to cut off things when I got feelings so it’d save me in the future. 

The thing is with dating apps, you never know if you are getting a real person or even if they are the person they are claiming to be. I’d like to say that I’m getting better at spotting signs but to be honest I’m probably not. I’ve luckily been safe in every situation so far from meeting someone from online, it isn’t always that easy. I never thought I’d openly speak about that situation, I thought it made me look bad but how? I literally put my all into something which was fake, that’s hardly my fault. It has changed me though, I’m more careful and I actively try to debunk things before anything advances. 

Twice more did tinder give me good experiences, those guys will know who they are though I am blocked by one. Both of them taught me my strength, I never would be in a position of acceptance if it hadn’t been for both of them. I no longer expect or even wish for anything more and if something happens it does if not, I’m not longing for it. I decided it was time to get off tinder, though I did enjoy the attention I could feel my insecurities growing as men would comment on my figure and that was all the attention I’d receive. I felt like an object and once after being rejected, having spent our whole date watching the football on the tv at spoons rather than speaking to me, a guy mentioned I’m only useful for that as no one would ever see themselves with me thanks to my sexual history and figure. That hurt. That hurt a lot, I worked so hard on making myself confident and allowing myself to open up to more that that one comment stunned me. 

I downloaded bumble; this wasn’t my first experience on the app, but it became a way of coping with my anxiety. At the start I used to watch the twenty-four-hour timer run out and not care, I couldn’t bare the concept of messaging first but that was my reason for going on it in the first place. I liked the way you could choose what heights you’d see too, considering I’m quite tall this did help narrow things down. Next came hinge, another that I’d previously downloaded but didn’t understand so left it. To be 100% honest I still don’t understand hinge, I just occasionally go on there now. My experience with these two have not impacted me half as much as tinder, there’s been good apples and bad, but that’s ‘dating’ isn’t it. You’re always going to bump into guys who are a bit of yourself and those who aren’t. 

Back to what I began to say in my first draft but have decided I was writing from a negative headspace. On the first of August I redownloaded tinder, I wanted to test how bad my mental health would get and whether tinder had an effect on it. I swiped right on everyone and within a week I had a thousand matches and would get about the same weekly, that genuinely did boost my confidence. I didn’t feel ugly, or unwanted. Then came the nastiness, I obviously was living a life and didn’t respond to messages often etc. I got a lot of hate for that, guys would be saying all this nice stuff and because I didn’t reply they’d message me threats and call me ugly, vile, etc. A few guys would tell me I should die, a sentence which even after a year and a half since my last attempt still triggers me. Others said if they saw me, they’d r*pe me, that I would deserve it, for looking the way I did. Men would pop up calling me fat, grown men over the age of 25 calling a young woman at 21 fat for not replying to the ‘you up’ text. My mental health was scarred, alongside worrying about other stuff I was scared for my safety. Like genuinely terrified. I deleted tinder shortly after five thousand matches, and redownloaded when I was safely in Carlisle to meet people. 

There’s a lot of talk constantly about how you should be careful who you meet, how these apps damage your perception on love etc. Me? I’m terrified. I don’t actively like commitment and at the same time I don’t sleep around (I know big shock). I proved to myself though, these apps have a negative spiralling effect on me. I’m more anxious and I’m certainly more depressed. They are linked to me though; I’ve spent years on these apps without knowing the toll and though I know due to loneliness and boredom I won’t be deleting them off my phone I wish I was able to. Guys and girls who’ve managed to get this far, I urge you to stay safe. It’d be hypocritical of me to say stay off these sites as I know I am still on them but be safe, you never know who someone truly is. Also, if a guy is threatening you, report him. Though it may have impacted you, hopefully you stop him from doing that to the next woman. Men, this is to you, please stop threatening woman just because you are rejected. 

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