Online Dating and your Mental Health
I was delighted to be asked by Badoo to help on their campaign for Mental Health Awareness Day, 10th October 2019.
Badoo, one of the world’s largest dating apps, conducted some really interesting research (see footer) about the potential challenges that men and women in the UK face when it comes to online dating.
I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Grace Victory, Instagram influencer and content producer, where we discussed these findings and go into depth about some of the situations which can arise leading to worries and anxieties in both genders. We talk about how to confront them, with a focus around the theme of honesty . #datehonestly
Being honest can enhance, protect and build confidence in your experience of dating. I offer some insights from my own experiences in practice and real life, as well as some tips on how we might approach tricky scenarios within our dating world.
Here is the video of myself and Grace, the interview is below… enjoy!
Badoo: What are some of the reasons people feel inclined to lie with online dating?
Me: People might not even see it as lying. Sometimes exaggerating or stretching the truth might be happening, but often I would put it down to trying to impress. People can present themselves as they want to when sat behind a phone screen, they can carefully cherry pick photos and use only the highlights and achievements in their lives to portray the person they think will be attractive to potential dates. It is worth remembering this when swiping, but also worth remembering that this is not an honest and authentic message to give off, which can lead to disappointment, anger and maybe even fear.
People also might bend the truth or make excuses actually to protect our feelings though. Sometimes people lie because they might worry about hurting someone they have been on a date with and don’t want to let down. It is useful to remember here that as much as that might come with good intentions, sometimes the truth might not be too difficult to put out there. If you think it might be helpful for someone to have the honesty, it may benefit their future dating experiences or most of all, decrease the feeling that people on the apps are being disingenuous.
There are more sinister reasons people lie. There are fraudsters out there, the dating app world is open to all. However Badoo, without imposing on your privacy, does have special mechanisms which will trigger if someone is behaving suspiciously.
Badoo: How does this affect people in the online dating world?
Me: This can create real issues around trust, and fear of putting yourself out there. This might come about in being scared to even start talking to someone, let alone going on a date with someone, to cynicism about people’s intentions. Often if our backs are up we aren’t able to be relaxed or the person that we would like to be. Being on a dating app in itself is exposing and a strong and potentially brave thing to do. If people are conveying something dishonest it is damaging and means we feel more protective of ourselves going forward.
Badoo: How is this damaging people’s mental health?
Me: This can be really damaging to our self esteem and that feeling of courage that comes with putting yourself out there. Repeated occasions of people letting you down, or lying to you, or bending the truth can be disheartening and create questions about yourself. What have I done to have this happen to me? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just meet someone genuine?
Being honest can enhance, protect and build confidence in your experience of dating
Badoo: What can people do to improve their honesty online?
Me: Be upfront about who you are and what you want from online dating. People have many different agendas when it comes to meeting people, but if you don’t disguise it, it can be received by someone who is willing to join you in what you are seeking. There is an important balance between recognising that actually a lot of people are more robust than we give them credit for, and can probably handle, and even appreciate more honesty than you imagine, but also recognising that these interactions can have an impact on how they feel and how they feel about themselves. Tread carefully, truthfully and with kind intent.
Badoo: Why is honesty important now more than ever?
Me: Because we have moved our initial interactions online, the only way we are getting to know someone is based on these conversations and the image we put across over the app and bio. We have a far more limited pool of information than we do when meeting someone in person, and so honesty is vastly important now in order to show someone a you that is real and not fictitious.
Badoo: At what times do people feel more obliged to tell a white lie online?
Me: When they don’t want to hurt feelings we might bend the truth or make excuses so we don’t have to let someone down.
When exaggerating the truth and achievements, or downplaying qualities they deem to be less appealing, because we want to be the shiniest version of ourselves.
Tread carefully, truthfully and with kind intent
Badoo: Where can people go for more information on any mental health concerns they may have?
Badoo polled its users to understand the role online dating can play in affecting our mental wellbeing and found that 1 in 3 users in the UK (32% - significantly more than in other markets around the world) claimed to have experienced concerns related to their mental well being during their online dating journey.
While dating is an exciting pursuit, full of promise and emotions, for some, the digital dating experience can cause anxiety. For 42% of men, potential rejection ranked as the highest fear when dating online rising to 49% when this rejection occurs in the early stages of matching. For women, rejection ranked fifth on factors that may have an impact on their mental wellbeing.
In response to the findings*, Badoo will be offering in-app tips and advice to help with the issues raised by its users. Using a swipe mechanic, Badoo users can access the information, and Badoo will donate £1 to the charity on their behalf**