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What Tinder Is Doing To Your Self-Image

Stephen Hussey

I’ve wondered for a while about how Tinder is making us feel.

For the first time this week, I found some actual research that confirms that both male and female Tinder users report a lower self-image after using the popular dating app.

Scientists asked 1,044 women and 273 men – mostly university students – to complete questionnaires detailing their use of Tinder, and reported the following:

“We found that being actively involved with Tinder, regardless of the user’s gender, was associated with body dissatisfaction, body shame, body monitoring, internalisation of societal expectations of beauty, comparing oneself physically to others, and reliance on media for information on appearance and attractiveness.”


There’s some irony to this, considering that we are constantly told Tinder is little more a validation-seeking app. Turns out, we’re getting the opposite.

Tinder = 100 tiny rejections

Instead of a confidence boost, those who sit swiping absent-mindedly with their friends, with coffee at lunch, or secretly at the office, are feeling more and more disposable, probably because, for every 1 or 2 matches, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re also receiving 100 tiny rejections. 

At least, that was how I felt when I used Tinder.

Aside from the feeling I was burning a pile of hours swiping away when I could have been out with friends or reading a book, or doing anything productive, I couldn’t help but feel that I was being more judged every time I would open up to look at my matches.

This seems to agree with the research, since men were more likely than women to feel their self-esteem lowered after using the app. My guess is that this is because men tend to get far fewer matches than women (at least I’m told) and are probably more likely to treat their results as a definitive scorecard on their looks.

Why Does Tinder Make Us Feel Worse?

By the way, I don’t have any beef with online dating.

Some guys I know love and swear by it. Plenty of women I know use it regularly with varying results. A fair few women at Matt’s seminar events have told me the worst horror stories about it. One university friend of mine told me she’s getting married to a guy she met on Tinder (so clearly it is capable of producing at least some matches made in heaven).

So I don’t think I can sit and moan about dating apps.

But it’s interesting to have something I’ve often felt confirmed by some hard data.

But then the question is: Why does Tinder make people feel worse about themselves?

  • Maybe it’s because in real life we’re not used to facing actual judgment from so many people, whereas on Tinder we have our fears confirmed if that hot guy or girl turns out to have no interest (or if they actually do match with us and turn out to be a huge disappointment).
  • Maybe it’s just exposure to so many attractive people, which causes us to get a kind of “dating FOMO” as we become aware of all the people out there who we’d like to attract.
  • Maybe it just that Tinder makes us focus on our looks too much.

I’d love to hear a woman’s perspective on this, so here are my questions:

1.  Does Tinder make you feel worse or better about yourself?

2. Have you deleted Tinder? Did your self-esteem improve afterwards?

Let me know in the comments below!

Until next week ;)


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98 Replies to “What Tinder Is Doing To Your Self-Image”

  • Hi Stephen,

    I found Tinder absolutely tragic! I was really reluctant to give it a go because of things I had heard, but one day a friend convinced me to sign up to it.
    Everyone had said most guys only use it for causal hook ups, and I’m not the kind of girl that looks for that. What I found was that if a guy knew this wasn’t what I was looking for, they made the effort to get to know me, seem like they were interested, say all the right things – so that they could get a date and chance their luck on the date.
    When this first happened I had hoped it was a one off and it was just that guy messing about with my mind. But unfortunately it’s happened a few times now. To the point I have came off of, and given up on all online dating apps.

    I’m just going to go with the flow and believe that the right man will cross my path eventually. I don’t want to go looking for him :).

    1. It’s really interesting. Men get depressed about Tinder when they feel like things don’t go anywhere (or they don’t get enough matches), while women get more depressed by matching with so many guys who prove to be creeps.

      Don’t give up on looking for him! Just be open to trying many different methods ;)

      1. Yeah, I would say that’s the experience myself, and others I know have had (men and women).

        I’m becoming more open :) but I think it’s harder to find what is meant to be when you are so busy trying to look for perfect!

  • I have been on dates from tinder and met some nice people once in a while ( once in a while is totally accurate). But the biggest problem I find with Tinder is, exactly the opposite of what Tinder is try g to promote. They keep try g to say it’s a dating app but 99.9% of guys I even answer their message to looking for fun and casual ONLY. I find most of them lazy to even message. I get matches a lot, and I mean too many but never thought of it as a confidence booster. Because since most of the guys just looking for fun, they just click on anything remotely attractive.

    But girls are looking for more than just fun, maybe that’s why guys get less matches.

    To sum up, Tinder is great, if you want to have sex 7 days a week with different guys. I have decided to delete it for this reason :)

  • Yes, after using tinder I felt bad about myself. I was getting tons of matches but no one would hold a conversation. I’ve deleted the app.

  • This really resonated with me . Totally made me feel down in the dumps and didn’t give me energy. Got loads of matches but felt false and admin. Ditched it and now I’m feeling back to myself. Let’s go…

  • I used Tinder for a short period of time,but I didn’t let it affect my self-esteem (as far as i’m aware).
    That’s because Tinder showed me just how many attractive men there are around me, and I only need one ;) So even if 95% of them swiped left, the 5% that swiped right are more than enough.
    Nobody likes being rejected, but I don’t think rejection is always a bad thing so that didn’t bother me. I understand that people are attracted to different things and if 100 swipes don’t like me – there are many others who will.
    Conversely, I think people (particularly men) like to inflate the number of matches they get ,if it works in their favour, and that makes people feel invalidated when they only get 1 match for every 10 swipes, while their barely attractive mate Barry gets 9 matches for every 10 swipes.
    My validation comes from within, so I am not affected either way. Perhaps the self-esteems most largely affected are those who joined Tinder seeking validation. We know that ,in society, men are rarely complimented as much as women and they may have signed up hoping that societal norms would be broken since they are not face to face i.e maybe the woman would say hello first, or at the very least reply , but these norms still exist within social media , and that surely makes men question themselves if it happens more than once. When the reality is, women are flooded with messages so some only reply to certain people, while men are rarely messaged.

  • I did feel pressure to put my best photo’s forward, and I don’t take a stereotypical beauty shot, I’m a bit more funny in photos. I did feel my personality was bleached out.

    I deleted it as I was just meeting people for dinner and small talk and I couldn’t find any meaningful conversation or like mindedness.

  • I deleted the app because it didn’t help with my already average self esteem. And there were a few disrespectful, disgusting guys on there that made my skin crawl. The app gave me that sleazy feeling the entire time I was active on it. I’d rather meet someone in person first, who knows, maybe I’ll try again later when I’m bored.

  • The only time I felt bad a on dating app is when I’d been out with someone and it wasn’t flowing well, and then I saw him on the app, or could tell he’d been on it. If I started dating someone, then I’d block them because I didn’t want to know if they were still on – it didn’t make me feel good. That’s why I got rid of these apps.

    I live in a rural area and there aren’t clubs or even many coffee shops so online felt like the only option. I had the most luck with plenty of fish – I met tons of nice, quality guys on there. Tinder was okay. I’d match with ppl but then not really be interested in talking to them. I only went on one date off tinder & he was a huge, persistent asshole. Huge.

    The guy I’m seeing, I met on match.com. I don’t really tell ppl that. We are getting super serious. I picked out my ring, he wants our parents to meet, he wants to meet and hang out with all my family, I get all shy & flustered sometimes because he’s so damn sweet & sexy, even after ten months. He is crazy in love with me & treats me so well! I feel super lucky.

    It took a long time for us to be together after a couple dates and I was dating other ppl because I wasn’t going to wait for him to come around – but I had a huge thing for him, so I was really happy when he wanted a relationship.

  • Hi there. I had a 3 week stint on tinder & throughout the experience I noticed a significant drop in my self esteem. The energy it takes to respond to so many people & the disappointment waiting to hear back from the ones that might be compatible was draining.
    I felt my “self” being lost to this unknown world that was based on superficiality. How can one judge a person based on a look?
    I’ve been dating website free for 2 weeks & whilst I’d love a partner to share experience with… I’m not giving up myself to an app that is so shallow.
    Hey… I get it, it works for some… Just not me

  • Maybe I’m wrong but I feel that Tinder is for desperate men, therefore I will only find desperate men there. I have never used it, I rather go out, I would feel desperate using it..

  • Hi Stephen,

    I’d like to offer an alternative perspective. I haven’t been able to find the original article online (a link would be very much appreciated!) but from what I’ve read, the study is purely correlational, I.e. the participants that use tinder have lower self esteem etc. Without a proper experimental study, you really can’t say that tinder is the cause of that difference. It could well be that single people have lower self esteem in general, or that the category of single people who turn to dating apps do so because of their lower self esteem/body image.

    I’m a tinder user myself, and honestly enjoy the app for what it’s worth. I also think this is important research in to a new area, but I’m wary of allowing it to tell us more than it does. A study of self esteem/mood/attitudes towards men or women measured before and after a swiping session would be very interesting! You could also then factor in the amount of matches received, and the ‘rejection rate’ to see if that mediates the results.

    Food for thought.
    (Can you tell I was a psyc major? )

  • I am 52 and live on an island in the Pacific that is a popular tourist destination where 60% of the population is 18 or under. Do to my location I don’t think on-line dating is an option. I just downloaded Tender a few days ago in hopes that I may come across an interesting English speaking mature local or visitor. So far I have not found someone that meets my criteria and I have been swiping left all the time. Funny enough, I had a 24 year old who was interested, but I wasn’t. It was fun to see who swiped right. I check at the time of day that people would just be arriving to the island. I try to do all my swiping before most people would look. I think it is my defense mechanism. Just started using it and with my age range and location I don’t have very high expectations of find very many people. So I don’t think it will have much influence on myself esteem.

  • I met the worst men I had ever meet before or in my future through tender I notice its only for physico ppl whos hiding them self or having bad self conference that they can’t know ppl or meeting ppl in real life ..I really fealing sorry for them must of them looking only for hookups im talking about Dubai tender

  • 1. Tinder doesn’t make me feel worse. I’m fairly confident with my looks. I do wish more people would say hello once matched. Nearly all of the men i swipe yes on match with me. I guess is a numbers game. I’ve met some great people and havnt had any creeps. It pays to be selective. A girlfriend has met her fiance through Tinder.

    2. I’ve got off Tinder fir awhile but not because of my self esteem taking a battery. Just thought the may be more legitimate dating websites to use. I’m currently chatting to a great guy. Well meet up soon.

    1. That’s a fair and balanced perspective Jenny. Like I said, I’m not interested in bashing Tinder or telling anyone not to use it, I just thought it was interesting how it may be affecting our psychology.

      Good luck with this new guy! :)

  • I’ve only heard of the app, never used it, but it sounds quite naive. photos don’t look the same as real person, when a person animates it makes so much difference, even videos not quite the same as real person, cuz when a person actually interacts with you personally it also makes a lot of difference.
    what matters is their attitude, basically every little thing, attraction is quite subtle.

  • I think it actually helped my se esteem, but definitely got the impression that it was just for hookups so that didn’t appeal to me. There’s weirdos on all of them, this one included.

  • I’ve never used it. That being said, my friends here in So. Korea normally use it to find other foreigners. I’m too busy teaching on the week days and on weekends, I always have plans. The app would be a waste of time, I think. I’m in a lovely country; I want to explore it.

  • Tinder made me with really good when I would match, but when I didn’t it kind of really sucked. I deleted tinder because I had matches and I wasn’t sure how to talk to them all and I sort of had a falling out with a guy I was talking to on there. It made me feel good to be rid of the app because it made me feel pressured to try. And there was just to many. I’d rather focus on one.

  • Tinder or any social dating apps are not good for people who are constantly seeking validation and acceptance from others in this society.
    People seek such sites basically due to body shaming either they are fat , dark etc
    Yes felt quiet relieved after leaving this app.waste of time and energy

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