The third reason why you may never find “the one” on a dating app

Marie-Judith Jean-Louis
6 min readDec 21, 2020


Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels

Besides the abundance of fake profiles (reason 1) and superficial connections (reason 2), the third reason why you may never find a fulfilling relationship using a dating app is that many users simply aren’t looking to be in a relationship. Although some are looking for love, others are looking for validation or excitement, and some even forgot why they downloaded dating apps in the first place.

Tell me I’m beautiful

One of the main complaints a friend of mine had about dating apps in general is that many apps are “full of ego inflation and shallow people.” He noticed that many women didn’t even bother writing their bio but had plenty of selfies for others to comment on. And most of the time, they didn’t even bother responding to anyone.

Many users download the apps simply to boost their own self-esteem. They have little to no intention in ever dating the people who contacted them, which can explain the large percentage of ghosting. They just want to know that they are still “datable” and that they still “got it”.

For Courtney, 24, using Bumble and Hinge for validation is a way for her to protect herself from heartbreak. “I deal with a lot of insecurity [and] anxiety around my romantic relationships, so by using the app more so for validation, I can control the narrative and my feelings.” she explains. She recently matched with one of her college crushes, and she felt comfortable knowing she could end the conversation whenever she wanted to. “It works short-term, kind of like the junk food of a dating life?” she says. “It gives you the rush of knowing someone likes you, without having to deal with the actual relationship or risk getting hurt.” [1]

What comes to mind for users like Courtney is that they most likely are not ready for a relationship even though they are on a dating app. Instead of getting themselves ready for a relationship by working on what they need to address in their own lives, they spend time swiping right or left and get a rush of dopamine when someone swipe right on their profile.

Meanwhile, people looking for relationships on the app will inevitably swipe right for someone like Courtney. And she might even respond to a few of them. But since her intention is not to find someone, they will most likely end up disappointed. For Courtney, just like junk-food, self-esteem boosts might be filling for a while but will never be nourishing.

It’s important to note that this self-esteem boost happens more if you fall within the “American standards of beauty”. For those who happen to fall outside of these parameters, dating apps can become an assault to your self-confidence.

I’m scared

A lot of users claim to download dating app as a form of entertainment. It’s a bit like downloading other social apps such as Tik Tok, Facebook or Instagram. Perhaps, they want to connect but are too scared to do so. Here’s what a redditor had to say about a friend of his using dating apps :

My friend does this: Gets matches , sets up dates, but last minute he cancels and stay home to play FIFA and watch movies alone.. he does this every time to every girl. He says it’s good for the ego boost but wtf? Surely going out on a date > ego boost? He hasn’t been out in ages, maybe fear is holding him back and “ego boost” is an excuse? Just seems like a waste as literally he could have 5 different dates in a week.

Fear will make people do weird things and it’s easy to mask fear with ego. One way or another, this type of user is most likely scared to be judged or rejected, which is considered to be an attack to their ego.

But that ego is exactly what’s keeping them from being able to form a genuine connection. While many believe that their ego protects them from being hurt, it’s actually contributing to that wound instead. Ego keeps relationships and genuine connections at bay. As a result, they may tell themselves that people would like to date them, but they aren’t going on dates and still feel lonely. Their ego might be intact, but their heart. . . not so much.

The Ego, however, is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear. — Deepak Chopra

Follow me on Instagram

Another interesting trend is the one where women (probably men too) set up a Tinder profile to get more followers on Instagram. GQ magazine interviewed a couple women who were on that trend and here’s what one 23-year-old female user had to say about using Tinder for the sole purpose of increasing her followers on Instagram : [2]

“I downloaded Tinder while in a relationship,” she says. “I’m an extremely loyal person and my boyfriends have understood it’s simply to get followers, not to cheat on them. It’s really never been an issue for me in a relationship, as they know I wouldn’t use it to talk to anyone.”

“I just swipe ‘no’ on as many profiles as I can for a few minutes and I instantly start to notice an influx of followers on Instagram,” she says. In the UK, she usually gains about five followers a day through this method, but when she goes abroad, “It can be up to 100 new follows a day.”

Needless to say, if you’re looking to connect on a dating app, don’t be surprise if you don’t get a response from users who are “more active on Instagram”. If you see a profile asking you to follow them on Instagram, chances are that’s exactly why they are on the app for and you will never get to meet.

Keep swiping : it’s a trap

Dating apps are designed like slot machines. They are designed to keep you using the app and keep you coming back to them. They can easily become addictive to the point of you not really remembering why you downloaded the app in the first place, mindlessly grabbing your phone to check the next series of profiles. That’s a trap.

Slot machines are addictive because they challenge you. “ At times the game would not provide any winnings and suddenly it gives you a massive payout. This becomes a rush, making you feel as if you knew that a win was coming, which is why you keep spinning.” [Source : Gambling]

Dating apps are addictive because they challenge you too. At times the app won’t give you any match and suddenly it gives you a match! This becomes a rush, making you feel is if you know that a match was coming. And then you keep swiping for an even better match.

On apps like Tinder you actually get a prompt that asks you if you want to “contact the person” (cash in your win) or “continue to play”. And just like a gambler, it’s easy to get hooked on the anticipation for a better prize. No details have been spared to give you that same feeling : the notification bell, the graphics, the pace, the randomness of the potential match.

And just like any compulsive gambler who wins money on the slots, instead of walking away with the winnings (the match), they play again and again, swiping away, hoping to get another hit of that dopamine rush. Sure, you may have a couple matches after a few swipes, but what if the next match is even hotter?

It’s a trap! There will always be someone “hotter”. And just like in gambling, the house always wins. The dating services market size was valued at $6.7 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach $9.9 billion by 2026 [source: Allied Market Research]

A new perspective

If you had a successful business and were looking for a business partner to help you grow it into an even bigger business, would you randomly pick your future business partner based on a profile picture? Would you swipe through hundreds of potential partners and send them messages hoping that a couple of them would match? I’m assuming you would do your research first and connect with groups of businessmen and businesswomen in a compatible field, with a compatible vision and values. If that’s the case, why put any less effort into finding a life partner compared to a business partner?