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Dating App Use Linked to Social Anxiety and Loneliness

Dating App Use Linked to Social Anxiety and Loneliness

Don’t let dating apps swipe your time—here’s how you can cut back on online dating and ease your social anxiety.

In Swiped, the HBO documentary on dating app obsessions, one frequent user reminisces about the good old days of dating. “I do remember when you used to call people on the phone. I think if you called someone these days, you’d probably get labeled a psychopath.”

The result is that many 18- to 30-year-olds now spend around 10 hours a week swiping for connection and affection. What’s the appeal? According to a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationship, dating apps take pressure off folks with social anxiety and help ease the loneliness so many younger adults feel these days (22 percent of adults say they often or always feel lonely, left out and isolated, and 59 percent of those folks are 19-49 years old).

Unfortunately, using dating apps can backfire and create even more social isolation and discomfort. Don’t let dating apps swipe your time and attention from the world around you! Here are some ways you can cut back your dating app use and ease your social anxiety:

  • Controlling your dating-app appetite: Limit use to 30 minutes per day. Don’t use while you’re at the office or school. A sure sign of addiction is swiping while hanging with friends, family, colleagues or on a date.
  • Easing social anxiety: Seek professional therapy. But also, work to ID the negative thoughts that fuel your fear of social situations (“I’m going to blow this!” or “They’ll think I’m not smart.”). Then challenge those thoughts: “That’s not right. I can do this!” 
  • Overcoming loneliness: Join clubs or volunteer organizations that will get you interacting naturally with like-minded people.
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