Why do people behave so badly on dating apps?

By on April 28, 2022 0

Analysis: From phantom relationships to “dormant” relationships, do dating apps breed bad or antisocial behavior?

By Martin Graf, University of South Wales

There is no doubt that online dating and dating apps have transformed how we initiate, form and end romantic relationships. We might also wonder if the convenience of these apps has encouraged us to behave differently than we would in “real life.” Specifically, do mobile dating apps engender bad or antisocial behavior?

If you use dating apps, you’ve probably been “ghosted” on occasion (where someone removes all contact) – or maybe you’ve ghosted someone yourself. Maybe you found out that someone you were chatting with on an app was in a relationship. Or if you don’t use these apps, you may have heard horror stories from friends.

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From RTÉ 2fm’s Jennifer Zamparelli sex therapist, Rachel Cooke on the ghosting that regularly occurs on dating apps

Let’s take a look at some of the bad behaviors we see most often – and how psychology can explain them.

One of the main themes is how often people use dating apps when they are in a relationship. US data showed some 42% of people with a Tinder profile were in a relationship or married.

In a study of American undergraduate students, about two-thirds said they had seen someone on tinder who they knew to be in a relationship. Additionally, 17% of participants said they had messaged someone on Tinder while they were in a committed relationship, with 7% engaging in a sexual relationship with someone they had met on Tinder while in a committed relationship. of a committed relationship.

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From RTÉ 2fm’s Jennifer Zamparelli, Donegal wife Jessica Harkin talks about being kicked off Tinder for dressing up as a clown

There is also evidence that people are using dating apps to track what we call “night light“. It’s when someone on a dating app maintains contact with another person in hopes of one day pursuing something romantic or sexual.

Surprisingly, the authors of a 2018 study of 658 undergraduate students found that the number of reported backburners did not differ significantly between those who were single, casually dating, or in a committed relationship. About 73% of all respondents said they had at least one backburner.

Online communication, of course, makes keeping in touch much easier. The researchers have suggested that maintaining the relationship in a dormant relationship involves positivity (showing compassion for the other person and making sure interactions with them are fun and enjoyable), openness (disclosing personal information to them, can -even sharing secrets) and assurances (demonstrating a wish for the relationship to be maintained over time).

It’s not uncommon for people to use dating apps when they’re in a relationship. Romantic Studio / Shutters

Online dating has also made ghosting a lot easier. A 2019 study found that respondents had ghosted 29% of people they had dated and had been ghosted by 25% of dates themselves. Additionally, 74% of respondents said they thought ghosting was an appropriate way to end a relationship.

Participants in this study reported both sudden ghosting (sudden stopping of contact) and progressive ghosting (contact slowing down before it disappeared completely). The gradual afterglow increased the degree of uncertainty for the ghosted person.

Ghosting probably happens so frequently because of how easy it is to end a relationship this way, especially if the couple haven’t met in person yet. The authors of the same study also point out that online dating offers an abundance of possible partners, and people who “ghost” a partner may do so because they’ve moved on to someone new.

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From RTÉ 1’s Late Late Show, Joanne McNally talks about her adventures on celebrity dating app Raya

People don’t just use dating apps for finding a relationship or for sex – many people report using them just for fun. As such, more genuine users of these apps can be easy targets for trolls, who simply wish to create conflict and cause distress to other online users for their own amusement.

A study 2017 found that dating app trolls scored high on measures of sadistic behavior, showing disregard for pain or suffering inflicted on others; and strongly on dysfunctional impulsivity, characterized by breaking promises.

Some general reasons for bad behavior

Perhaps the convenience and abundance of choice in online dating is fostering a culture of “disposability” – being able to “change” in the dating market and more easily abandon a current partner. Personal mobile devices, equipped with password or facial recognition protection, enable and may even encourage more surreptitious and secretive behavior.

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From RTÉ 2fm’s Louise McSharry, journalist and author Nancy Jo Sales discusses her book Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno.

Online behavior is generally characterized by disinhibition – we are inclined to behave more freely online than in a face-to-face context. This is partly due to the sense of anonymity we have online.

Finally, the way people use dating apps is very much related to personality characteristics. For example, people who are open (open to experience, adventurous) and less agreeable (less caring and considerate of others) personality styles are more likely to use dating apps in a more casual way.

While bad or dysfunctional behavior now seems commonplace on dating apps, social media, and online in general, the technology that gave rise to that behavior is here to stay. We may need to adjust our expectations accordingly.The conversation

Martin Graf is a lecturer in relationship psychology at University of South Wales. This article was originally published by The conversation.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ



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