Dealing With Dating App Stress

using a dating app with hearts

D3sign / Getty Images

Dating, in general, can feel stressful sometimes. Anytime we are interacting with someone new, even behind the perceived safety of a screen, we are taking an emotional risk whether we realize it or not.

Dating apps can be a fun and convenient way to scope out potential connections but can also create a lot of stress.

This article discusses the experience of using dating apps and what you can do if you feel overwhelmed with them.

Benefits of Using Dating Apps

There is no question that the use of dating apps is popular. It is estimated there are approximately 323 million registered users on dating platforms worldwide.

Where people were once limited to relying on friends, family, coworkers, or taking a risk to walk up to a stranger to start a connection, those currently dating with the help of an app have a wide range of potential connections at their fingertips.


Taking time to date while also juggling the demands of life can be difficult. The time it takes to get ready, go out, and take a risk to connect with someone new can feel daunting.

Using dating apps can bring potential connections to you. You can scan through options at 3 am in your pajamas or at 3 pm during a quick work break. The convenience of dating apps allow you to sift through profiles whenever you feel ready to.


One of the main questions singles have when starting to date is, "Where do I start?" We think of every place possible to meet people from the gym to the produce aisle and it can feel intimidating.

Those who are dating might be limited to a small group of friends, family, and coworkers to help them network and find a potential match. Although dating that way can lead to wonderful connections, these kinds of leads from family and friends can leave us with limited exposure.

Using a dating app can greatly expand our dating pool, giving us a chance to experience a connection with someone we may likely never cross paths with otherwise.

Feels Less Risky

Making any level of connection with someone new can feel emotionally risky, especially if we've been hurt in past relationships.

The idea of initiating conversation in person can feel overwhelming and, sometimes, outright scary. Being able to browse potential partners from the comfort of your home can feel much less risky.

How Can Dating Apps Cause Stress?

Although we might be able to avoid the stress of initiating in-person connections, the use of dating apps isn't without its own unique stressors. Let's take a look at what may cause some of this stress.

It's Time Consuming

Once you take the initial risk of putting up a profile, the magic can start to happen. A connection here, a match there, and those connections can feel great. Soon, you might find that you are spending an extraordinary amount of your day on apps interacting with potential partners, messaging, swiping, and connecting.

As great as these connections can feel, the time spent on these apps can become unhealthy and pull us away from our daily responsibilities, causing us to feel unfocused and stressed.

There's a Sense of Competition

You and millions of others are using dating apps to find love and connection. Understanding that connections can easily be made online, it is sobering to consider how many people are in the dating pool at any given time.

Thinking about the volume of people can feel overwhelming. You may begin to feel as if you need to compete for the attention of potential partners. This can result in potential dates objectifying themselves if they don't reign in their competitiveness.

Remember that you do not have to perform to create and maintain a connection. This can be difficult to keep in mind when feelings of competition and fears of rejection arise.

Yes, there are many people who are looking for connections through dating apps but that doesn't mean you are competing with anyone. Allow yourself to be genuine and confident of what you bring to a relationship.

Over-Emphasis on Physical Appearance

Although there is plenty of opportunities to share our personal experiences, values, and interests in dating apps, the reality is that much of what initially prompts us to swipe or connect is physical appearance.

Dating research has shown that, although not the ultimate factor in the long-term success of a romantic relationship, physical attractiveness is found to be the strongest predictor of initial attraction.

With this in mind, it is understandable that a person using dating apps for connection may feel an extraordinary amount of pressure to have the "perfect" profile photos. Curating the best images of ourselves can be time-consuming and, when so much pressure is felt to capture the attention of others, people may find that this level of pressure leads to stress and self-doubt.

Fear of Rejection

Rejection can happen in the online dating world just as it does in person. However, a unique element of using dating apps to connect with others is that rejection can happen in an instant and, sometimes, without us even knowing.

The term "ghosted" means to have someone abruptly stop communicating with no explanation of why. A person who has been ghosted never has an opportunity to understand what happened that led to disconnection and often are left cold. Being ghosted can lead to feelings of loneliness, and even lower life satisfaction.

How to Stress Less

If you're feeling stressed out while using dating apps, here are some things you can do to reduce your stress.

Keep Expectations Realistic

Remember that dating apps are simply a tool to explore, and potentially, find connections. You may experience connection quickly or it may take some time.

Quality relationships are developed over time and require the sharing of our time, our thoughts, and our feelings. This can feel vulnerable and may not be something we jump into quickly, even when we are excited about the person. Keep expectations of others, and yourself, realistic and flexible.

Be patient with people and compassionate with yourself as you take these emotional risks to reach out and make connections. Some connections will feel great and exciting, while other connections may not work out and that is to be expected. Give yourself permission to experience both and remember that this is a process.

Remember What Is Important to You

If you feel a sense of urgency to find a partner, you might find that you settle for less than ideal connections. By doing this you may end up compromising your values or you might never express them to potential partners.

Remember that a healthy connection, in large part, is developed through a sense of shared values. If we are unclear or uncertain about our own relationship-related values, it can be difficult to experience authentic connection.

Allow yourself a moment to reflect and write down your personal values. What is important to you? What are you about? Having a list of your values on hand as a reminder can help ease the stress and pressure of dating as you interact with others online.

Not only will you be reminding yourself of what you are looking for in a partner, but you may also find yourself interacting more confidently with a potential partner about who you are and what you desire in a relationship.

Stay Emotionally Flexible

Part of maintaining realistic expectations is to understand that you will not connect with everyone. Even in situations where the initial attraction is strong or the connection feels powerful, there may be moments that lead to disconnection or a sense that this relationship is not working. That is OK and normal through this process.

Remember that many things can influence how someone is showing up in a relationship or what they are ready for in terms of commitment and connection.

Keeping this in mind can help more painful moments not feel so personal. If you have someone to turn to for support in moments like this it can be helpful when you need perspective or reassurance.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries can help us have healthy relationships with others. The same goes for boundaries with dating apps.

In your search for a connection, you might spend nearly every bit of free time on a dating app. It may be helpful for you to set a specific time to use the apps. You have other things going on in your life besides dating, so make sure that you find a way to create balance in your life.

Find Support

The use of dating apps can feel isolating at times and it is important to find supportive people to turn to during your dating journey. You may have a close friend or family member who is also dating and can understand the unique challenges of using dating apps, which is great. Remember that there are others as well who can be of support, even if they are not dating.

The point of support is that you can turn to trusted others when you feel discouraged or confused, as well as to have people to celebrate with when you have a fun and wonderful experience!

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Business of Apps. Dating App Revenue and Usage Statistics.

  2. Frederick DA, Reynolds TA, Fales MR, Garcia JR. Physical Attractiveness: Dating, Mating, and Social Interaction. Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance. 2012.

  3. Navarro R, Larrañaga E, Yubero S, Víllora B. Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Breadcrumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among AdultsInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(3):1116. doi:10.3390/ijerph17031116

By Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP
Jodi Clarke, LPC/MHSP is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She specializes in relationships, anxiety, trauma and grief.