Maintaining your well-being when looking for love on dating apps

Dating apps offer a convenient way to meet potential partners, but they can also have an impact on our mental health. The pluses of apps include control over who we interact with, ease of use and access to a huge dating pool. However, many users struggle with their mental health. Rejection and time wasters are often part of the process and a 2020 study (Hotzhausen et al) found that swipe-based dating app users report higher levels of depression, anxiety and distress than those who don’t use the apps.


Here are seven useful well-being tips to keep in mind as you explore the world of online dating:

1. Balance your use of dating apps with self-care

Having something to look forward to, such as meeting friends or playing sports, can take the focus away from what’s happening in the app. Ensure you have some events/activities in your diary unconnected from your app use. Find ways to manage stress and get enough sleep and exercise. Activities such as journalling, meditation, and yoga can all be easily incorporated into a daily routine. 

2. Set usage boundaries

It's important to set boundaries around your app usage and stick to them. Monitor how many hours each day you using the apps and why? Ask yourself, are you still using apps to find love or have you become addicted to the buzz of external validation/dopamine hit when someone matches with you?

Be aware of how long you’ve been using the app and how regularly. Individuals who use swipe-based dating apps daily and those who have been using them for a long time (over a year) have been shown to have significantly higher rates of psychological distress and depression (Hotzhausen et al, 2020). Is it time you had a break and return to it when ready?

3. Consider your motivations

Carefully consider what you’re looking for. Is it casual sex, a romantic encounter, or maybe even a life partner and a potential parent to your future children? Once you're clear on your motivation then remember that other app users' motives may be different from yours.

Looking for love isn’t the only reason people use the apps. Research has identified a variety of user motivations (Timmermans and De Caluwe, 2017) including trying to improve flirting skills, getting over a relationship, travelling and wanting to meet new people, needing a distraction from work or study, peer pressure, or maybe just curiosity about the app.

Other reasons include looking for social approval, gaining sexual experience or looking for a feeling of belonging. It seems that many users are using the app in an effort to try and build confidence rather than to find love.

4. Consider your choice of app

If you find that your matches' motivations aren’t aligning with yours, ask yourself if you’re on the right app. Each app has a unique reputation. For example, Tinder might be considered more of a ‘hook-up app’ than others (Chan, 2017). Guidance can be found in a recent review on dating sites by the Telegraph which ranked eHarmony best for ‘serious relationships’, whilst OKCupid was considered best for ‘quirky and open-minded singles’.

5. Be prepared for rejection

Unfortunately, high levels of rejection are part of the online dating process. Be aware that there’s a likelihood that you’re going to experience some form of rejection along your online dating journey. Ask yourself if you’re ready for this. Remember that rejection is part of life and give yourself time to process your emotions with plenty of self-compassion. If you want a safe place to explore past rejections or more recent ones, a trained therapist can help.

6. Be prepared to be ghosted

Ghosting is the word that describes a relationship/friendship which ends unexpectedly with no explanation. It often causes hurt and confusion and is unfortunately prevalent in the dating app experience.

If you are a victim of ghosting it's common to feel a range of emotions including embarrassment and shame, but remember ghosting says more about them than it does you. Maybe they’re too scared to end the relationship or they hadn't considered the consequences, so try to remove any blame from yourself and importantly, remember to give yourself kindness.

7. Keep safe

This includes ensuring you are aware of any potential for deceit as it's easy to set up a false identity to trick or exploit others. Remember that you can report suspicious behaviour to the app’s customer support team.

When messaging potential dates, ask lots of questions and keep an ear out for any suspicious answers. Using a Google search for their name or picture may either confirm the information they’ve told you or throw up some red flags. Meet in a busy public place such as a coffee shop and have your own transport arranged. Tell someone you trust where you are going. 

Dating apps can be a fun, positive experience, so if you’re ready to get the most out of looking for love online, remember to protect and prioritise your mental health. Set boundaries, take breaks, keep safe and seek support from friends or professionals when needed.


Chan, Lik Sam (2017). Who uses dating apps? Exploring the relationships among trust, sensation-seeking, smartphone use, and the intent to use dating apps based on the Integrative Model. Computers in Human Behavior, 72(), 246–258. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.02.053 

Holtzhausen N, Fitzgerald K, Thakur I, Ashley J, Rolfe M, Pit SW. Swipe-based dating applications use and its association with mental health outcomes: a cross-sectional study. BMC Psychol. 2020 Mar 4;8(1):22. doi: 10.1186/s40359-020-0373-1. PMID: 32127048; PMCID: PMC7055053.

Russell, K. Astill, R. (2023) The 25 best dating sites and apps if you're looking for love (, 3rd January 2023, The Telegraph.

Timmermans, E., & De Caluwe, E. (2017). Development and validation of the tinder motives scale (TMS). Computers in Human Behavior, 70, 341e350. http://

Tyson, Gareth & Perta, Vasile & Haddadi, Hamed & Seto, Michael. (2016). A First Look at User Activity on Tinder.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Biggleswade, Central Bedfordshire, SG18 8GU
Written by Claire Coker, MA, MBACP Counsellor and Psychotherapist
Biggleswade, Central Bedfordshire, SG18 8GU

Claire Coker is an integrative counsellor, proud to be woke and anti ‘should’. She loves working with people who struggle with low self-confidence and/or loud inner critics. She’s all for saying no, respectful boundaries, breaking down negative self-beliefs and the magic of our unknown potential.

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