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”

  • I completely understand your perspective, but felt as though Tinder (at least in my case) was actually quite a nice way to receive validation after getting out of a long term relationship. I used it as a stepping stone to test out the dating waters again when I felt ready.

    Though I never met many people in person I felt were a right match, it was at least fun to see that I can still be a fun datable person that men are attracted to. (After 4 years in a dying relationship you really begin to wonder)

    App is now deleted, because it was taking up too much time away from things that are super important right now. I’m sure I’ll be back once life calms down, but I suppose the main drawback is the amount of time you need to spend on the app just to get to an actual in person meet up. It’s time consuming, but I think it can be done in a positive way if you have the patience for it.

    Lovely as always!
    Thanks :)

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

    Both. If I have a good ‘run’ (see attractive men, get plenty of likes/messages) it can boost a good mood or improve a bad mood (“yay, there’s hope!”). Likewise, if I visit a site/app and have no new likes/messages and only find unsuitable men your good or bad mood can plummet. I only visit them now when I’m feeling positive because I don’t want to use them as a self esteem tool when I feel low, too unhealthy.

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

    No, but I haven’t used any dating sites/apps for a whole weekend and instead just focused on spending time with my family and relaxing. Honestly, for the first time I feel at peace with myself since I started using them a few months ago.
    If you want to be proactive in your love life and struggle to meet men and you feel that you can’t get internet dating right – and it’s meant to be a surefire way to at least meet *someone* even just for one night – it can be demoralising.

  • I’d like to think I have a lot to offer in the dating pool, but using apps like Tindr and Bumble has sent my confidence plummeting into a dark abyss. I get matches and hold conversations with a few guys, but at the end of the day, It doesnt feel real.
    From what I’ve experienced, it causes me to go into an almost xonstant state of anxiety. Always wondering if I’m goid enough to compete with tge rest of the profiles on there.
    We as strong, self-suffucient women are being seen and trwated as expendable, because if someone doesn’t like something about you, or your profile, the next best thing is just a right swipe away. It’s very dissapointing. But unfortunately, this is where we are now as a society.

  • Hey Stephen,

    my thoughts about Tinder are ambivalent. As exchange student I was introduced to the app in America firstly. Since my friend told me straightforward that this app mainly just gets you laid, I didn’t have high expectations. Till that point I was of the opinion that I was completely undesirable and unattractive to men at this point, so Tinder was just some funny distraction from being single for a long time. I chose to not waste my time with looking for Mr. Right anymore and try to enjoy my single status for the first time.

    In my descriptions I made clear I was leaving the country soon anyways and therefore was just looking for one or the other joyful date with a person who could improve the time I had left.
    The feedback I got was incredible and boosted my self-esteem a lot. Additionally, I successfully hit on a very handsome guy who I hardly knew WITHOUT EVEN USING Tinder. Maybe just because I felt “Hey, I’ve got nothing to loose and seems I am not as horrible as I thought”? I knew the guys I met were focused on sex, but so was I. Each one of them treated me respectfully and I felt comfortable with the solution, enjoyed the last 5 weeks and wondered why I had wasted the last 9 months being without any man? Confused of my sudden ‘impact’ on and easy game with the other gender, I left for Germany. I was continue with Tinder…

    …but here’s the thing: It’s a completely different thing depending on your culture!

    Back here men all of a sudden were impolite, harsh, rude, bored or the other extreme: clingy, pushy, desperate, impatent. I tried to repeat the first good experiences but the ones I thought on dating for sex only acted either disrespectful (you can imagine that these dates lasted 5 minutes only) or were completely not at ease with the situation. They told me they simply didn’t expect to get laid even if they had tried there best to get to this point and yet seemed to be overwhelmed with what they got.
    Tinder became frustrating and infuriating, even just for hooking up.

    To sum it up, I agree with you on a long-term perspective. There are some really nice guys out there (I met some just for a nice talk, but without further attraction there mainly is no other outcome to this). In my opinion the idea to show you WHICH men CLOSE to you are single at all and WHAT THEY ARE INTERESTED IN is a brilliant concept. Unfortunatelly, it turns out to be another online platform that allows impolite behaviour on a regular basis. The bad ones scare away the good ones who would really be interested in getting to know you. And since it’s all about your looks it supports judging people by that standard only. Maybe you heard of the website “hot or not” that once was trendy when I was a teanager. Big mistake!…

    You and your brother are definitely right to point out one should focus on meeting new people in real life and not letting an anonymus, superficial and bored mass judge if it’s worth getting to know you.

    I know I write a lot. Always. I honestly appreciate that you’re both capable of focussing on your statements and cropping them as short as possible for us. From experience I know it takes a while to manage that!

    Thank you guys for your hard work!


  • we meet ppl on tinder or bump on them on the street r just the same thing.its the tool to meet up with others.tinder aint cause ppl a low self image,its already in them way before they wven on tinder..
    dont focus on how u meet them,just on how we treat others and self

  • Tinder was introduced to me by my cousin. I had no idea at the time that it’s mainly for hook ups…

    Fastforward: I met this man and turned out he’s someone a family member knew. We had a relationship but didn’t last long. Deleted my Tinder account after we met several times.

    Factors: 1. Family disapproval (my side)
    2. Lack of communication between us
    3. We both just broke up with our Exs

    In short, we parted ways and hurt each other. This was early this year.

    Conclusion: No matter what dating app you’re into, make sure you’re ready to embark into a fresh relationship and challenges. Love yourself before loving others.

    P.S. We are in contact after almost a year and we’re friends now.


  • Here’s my two cents… I’m on Tinder currently. I delete it only to come back again. You’d think enough’ enough right? I’ve dated several guys from Tinder. One, turned out to be a rather serious relationship. As many state, it is just another way to meet someone. However, I can’t shake the feeling that you’re not taken as seriously as if you were to meet in person. I don’t see how it hurts to be rejected by not getting the swipe right. The hurt comes in my opinion after you’ve had some conversation and then he never asks you out or you find out this person is simply using this as a marketing tool or a way to hook up. When the first important interactions are through an app or in text, I can’t help but think we’re not seeing each other as real people. It makes it that much harder for anything real to happen. I think this is a huge reason as to why ghosting is the way of the world now. It’s honestly terrible.

  • Tinder is fascinating culturally. When I’m in Milan or Torino and use Tinder, I feel like the most beautiful desired woman in the world. I get matched on almost every guy I swipe right, and a lot of them actually go ahead and write me right away–and even want to text multiple days in a row in advance of when we meet. In contrast, when I’m in the US, I find it very depressing. Almost none of the guys are attractive–so many out of shape, badly dressed guys at sports games. And my “hit rate” is much lower. When I do get a match, they almost never write. I can get guys 12 years younger than me who just want a hookup and figure if a woman >40 wants to meet up it’s just for sex (which is true), but overall it’s a “bust.” So i’ve had both experiences–it’s been at times a huge ego boost, and at other times very discouraging.

      1. Totally true. It completely changes your view on men in the area you live and discourages you from actually going out at all…

  • Feel very disappointed creates doubt within yourself when yet you tryING to be confident to set the right image.
    Gone on a few dates of which non have been successful for a 2nd date. Not saying that’s a tinder issue. Bottom line you have a picture some a brief intro about the good or being owner director of company. Change no’s and some have been scam masters either for money or seX. Deleted profile today as you say it consumes a person in the hope there may be a swipe got to be more to life …. think out the box I don’t think tinder for now.

  • I have deleted it several times. Apart from lowering my self esteem it’s also making me wonder if there are any potential men out there that aren’t hideous or stupid or taken.tinder has kept me from going on dates for 2 years after moving to Michigan…. on the other hand I feel like you HAVE to use it to meet anyone at all…

  • I haven’t tried tinder as i heard its just for people wanting sex but im on zoosk. Ive only been on it a couple of weeks and my emotions are like someone with bi polar. Ive had quite a few matches but the guys – well the 1st stood me up, the 2nd wasnt who he said he was and the 3rd was just chatting me up to then try and con me out of money. Those are the ones that hurt me as i really connected with these guys and i thought i mattered. Ive just been on a date tonite, nice guy but no attraction on my part. But the fact he hasnt tx to say thks for the date makes me feel like im fat and ugly. Another guy yest wdnt let me go till i wd send a full length photo – i told him if this was so important to him i didnt think itd work. He later put lol!!! Delete delete.., another guy who’s shown interest is always online – so im guessing hes chatting up other girls. I am not one of those instagram beauties so i will always feel that there will be someone else out there better than me. I also have to deal with 20 million messages from weirdos – 3 i had to block cos of stalkerish behaviour and harassment. With this site u can feel really gud when the tx flirting is happening but completely rejected and used at the same time. I feel the site doesnt let someone get to know u as a person merely just by the way u look and thus i will always feel inadequate.

  • for me it was a little bit of both…it increased my self esteem…after my divorce I felt ugly and my ex husband told me at the breakup that he wasn’t attracted to me. So to get matched got me excited but the lower occurred when the men didn’t chat with me after the first 2 days. I did deleted after back and forth on it for 2 years…haven’t been on it for 6 months, don’t miss it.

  • It’s boost my self-esteem as long as you were there without jumping the gun and having expectations you will find the love of your life..for the most part, men are there to dally. I didn’t think I was drop dead gorgeous, but I saw 3,000 men in my general area liked me in a span of 2 weeks, and I felt I had options. That I have a right to be choosy now that I know who was interested. Convenient, yes it is.

  • It did make me feel worse about myself, and I would say I don’t normally have low self-esteem. I ended up deleting it a couple of months ago and feel really good about my decision.

  • I have been trying Tinder to see what it’s about. It gave me more insight on the type of men I attract and from my perspective it is depressing. Tinder is all about looks as you know and based on that I attract men that I’m not attracted to. Someone commented about their different luck on Tinder when overseas vs in US. I have to say, it makes total sense. The difference in the quality of how people from Europe treat you is huge (based on my experience so far). It seems cultural. I’d prefer to meet men from Europe. They are just different in the way they treat others. I’m a latina and in USA I’ve always been judged and discriminated. When I’ve encountered people from Europe they are so much more warmer as people. So my response I guess is that my self esteem while using Tinder has stayed the same. It has totally reflected my experience in the “real” world when I’m out and about. I get looks from those I feel no attraction to and the ones I am attracted to I don’t exist. Plus I culturally seem to live on the wrong side of the World.

  • (30 F) I’ve had Tinder for less than 24 hours and I’ve had nothing but anxiety. I had 1 match who never responded and I realized I myself had accidentally swiped right on a couple guys, what if I was his accident? But for real- I’ve spent years working on my own self image and confidence, finally feeling liberated from a lot of the bullshit and minutes in I suddenly felt like what I was doing was wrong, like in its own way, participating in something that required me to make a snap first impression (based pretty much just on image/looks) without knowing someone’s motive or how genuine they are (and that they were doing that to me), felt like I was harming myself. While I understand its a “tool” to make it easier to meet people, it honestly feels harder whereas just putting yourself out there in person (no matter how awkward) somehow gives me a better idea of someone’s authenticity. I feel like I have enough social media “tools” as it is shoving these conventions and ideals down my throat that I don’t need the extra anxiety or pressure. Maybe one day I will attempt it again but right now it feels like I would be putting myself in a situation why I’m just hurting myself and I don’t want to force it.

  • Yes Tinder made me question who I was and what I am looking for. It seemed that what I wanted is not out there on this app. It’s a big hook up app. I feel so much better off of it and if I’m alone then so be it. I am confident independent and should not have to lower myself to degrading guys on Tinder. There are better ways to meet guys and view their true self in person rather then lying behind a computer screen.

  • I used Tinder, briefly, when I was a first year college student, and I disliked it so much that it took years for me to give it another shot, with similar results. I realized that I disliked it because it made me feel worse about myself, not only in appearance but my inner self, as well. I felt shallow and superficial. For the same reasons listed here, to be sure, but also because I was looking at attractiveness and what little I could glean from the bio to determine who was “worthy” of speaking to me.

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