Addiction to dating apps? This phenomenon exists in some people, and therefore it affects them

Like all addictions, it all started with a taste. This is exactly how the story of Alison Karlene Hodgins begins, who, at just 18 years old, began his adventure in the world of online dating. And like any other young adult, he did so with innocence and a certain cynicism. In his interview with Huffington Post, the woman comments, “I was 18, in my best friend’s basement, slightly drunk on cheap wine when I created a profile for her as part of a prank.” Little did Hodgins know, however, that this joke would become the focus of his life sometime later.

Soon after, Alison started trying online dating on her own. Like millions of stories around the world, Hodgins downloaded Tinder at night, only to later regret his matches in the morning and proceed to delete your profile. This action was followed by a promise “not to return”, but as happens with addictions, his words did not last too long.

However, at this point, Hodgins was still relatively healthy. In fact, shortly after beginning her adventure in the online dating world and swept left and right, the woman found a partner. This relationship lasted a year. and it is at its end that the real story begins.

A tug of war game

“After the breakup, I mourned the relationship before downloading a new app…” says Alison, explaining how he managed to meet two other potential couples after the event. Unfortunately, luck was not on his side. “I dated each for two months.”

Medicines did not need; I even abstained from alcohol for an entire year. Dating apps? I wanted to.

Alison Karlene Hodgins for the Huffington Post

“After every breakup, I told myself I would take time off. I wanted to focus on me. I thought about who I was and what I wanted. I wouldn’t download any dating apps.” However, two weeks later, Alison woke up with her phone in her hands and an open App Store with the word “Dating” in the search bar.

But why do we get addicted to dating apps?

Of course, it would be unfair to blame Alison herself for her addiction to dating apps. After all, it’s a medium like any other to satisfy one of the most important human needs: the desire for connection.

In fact, it is this very need that makes us “addicted” to these applications. The brain is an organ with impressive plasticity, capable of altering its chemistry in response to a specific experience, and love and attachment are among the most powerful that you can experience.

According to Dr. Michael Merzenich, scientific director of Posit Science, these are one of the most meaningful experiences someone can have in their life. “Naturally, these experiments can lead to some of the greatest changes in the brain that a person can experience,” comments the scientist. World DatingInsights.

In addition to his discussions of the consequences of love on the human brain, Merzenich has also researched the impact of dating apps on it. Here he explains what happens when we start swiping left and right? on apps like Tinder, and why.

“We know that when a person does something rewarding, like going on a big date or meeting a funny person, the brain releases dopamine, a neurochemical associated with reward. What’s interesting is that the brain doesn’t need to get the reward to release dopamine; if the brain anticipates that the reward will come in the future, it also releases dopamine.

For this reason, when a person begins to slip between matches on a dating app, the brain automatically begins to anticipate the thrill and reward of a date, and releases dopamine.

Dr. Michael Merzenich, Scientific Director of Posit Science

But Merzenich is not the only one to have succeeded in linking this phenomenon to the human circuit. Dr. Judson Brewer, in his book The Spirit of Thirst, also offers a preview of this effect. Here, Brewer explains how social apps of all kinds activate the same “circuit” as substances such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and much more. Fortunately, in most cases, a dose of Tinder does not have such devastating consequences as the substances mentioned here.

Natasha Dow Schüll, anthropologist and author of a book linking addiction to technology, discuss the similarities between slot machines and dating apps. As Schüll comments in DailyBeastAddiction to these apps works similarly to addiction to gambling.

“The parallels exist in the way experience is formatted whether rewards are delivered or not. If you don’t know what you’re going to get or when, that leads to more persistent behaviors, which in turn are the addictive.

You build that anticipation, that anticipation builds, and there’s a kind of release when you get a reward. The jackpot, a ding-ding-ding, a match“.

Natasha Dow Schüll, anthropologist

A problem that affects some more than others

A survey conducted by Match, confirms the number of users who tend to return regularly to the application. According to the web, 15% of singles on Tinder they comment that they feel addicted to the process looking for a date.

Of this population, it is the men who take the largest part, with a 97% higher chance of becoming addicted. The women, on the other hand, make up the smallest part; but they are 54% more likely to experience burnout after this process.

A third of users of these apps have never dated anyone they met on them. For this, it all comes down to a kind of “video game”. In an article for BBC, Lucy Vine describes this experience as “earning points in a video game”. “It’s a pastime in front of the TV when I’m bored,” she says.

David Greenfield, professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, agrees with the reasoning of Natasha Dow Schüll and that of Lucy Vine. Moreover, he adds that in most of these cases there is nothing we can do to save ourselves from these feelings of addiction.

Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that’s hardwired into survival circuits like diet and sex, so we’re talking about going against something that’s biologically evolved in the brain over tens of thousands of years. years.

David Greenfield, professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine for VICE

For this reason, one of the solutions may lie in the deep understanding that having more options won’t make us happier. In fact, according to Greenfield, “it stresses us out even more.”