Dating Addiction: Swipe Right SBDA’s & Mental Health
Updated: Jul 12
My first entry begins a journey surrounding the life of a 40-something, insightful, empathic, professional human woman with a strong sense of daily purpose. Yep, it's mine and I don't mind sharing. Hoping you will enjoy the process, as you venture into the depths of my brain space. Feel free to comment at the end on any topics you'd like to read about or have always wondered about me. I'm keeping it clean, for the most part.
Go look at the title of it again. Are you wondering what SBDA's are? I was too before I studied about them. The acronym stands for Swipe Based Dating Apps. Some of you addicts might have already guessed it yourselves. Did you know there was a lot of research behind the psychology of these apps? According to Melissa Lin, a Finance Blog Editor, there are now over 1,500 dating apps or websites looking to draw single humans to their product. Wow, so hard to imagine. My journey into this virtual world started in March 2009, a little over 11 years ago. I was in my early 30's, on top of my game, as I became enthralled into a virtual world of swiping up, down left and right searching endlessly & tirelessly.
In my research I found that the first matchmaking agencies came about in Britain in the 1600's. People were matched based on 'social classes'. They have similar apps these days, like MillionaireMatch.com and FarmersOnly.com. Farmers may be millionaires, but I'm just making a general point. Geolocation applications, such as these apps, have made it super easy to communicate & meet other users who are geographically close in proximity. I can search 10, 20, 50 miles away or there's another option called 'whole country'. This really made me giggle.
According to 'Psychology Today' dopamine is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter—a chemical that ferries information between neurons. This important neurochemical boosts mood, motivation, and attention, and helps regulate movement, learning, and emotional responses. Obviously my dopamine is released in healthy doses while I'm swiping, that's why I'm still in the dopamine boosting groove. I only really started to classify my behavior as addictive around 6 years ago. I was successful in gaining a relationship from Match.com that lasted ~2 years, perpetuating a big reward boost propelling my return to the SBDA's.
I read on one site that meeting people, dating, & finding serious relationships through swipe-based dated apps has shown to have a positive impact on mental health, with up to almost 50 percent of people using these apps claiming it's had a positive impact on their self-esteem. The evidence has yet to be officially proven, of course. For myself I believe in certain ways it has boosted my self-esteem, & definitely kept me focused on consistently firming up my physique. I believe this has benefited my overall health.
Another word I learned while doing a little research of the psychology of mental health and the dating apps was 'Gamification'. Defined as 'the application of gaming mechanics to non-gaming environments to make difficult tasks more palatable”. — Growth Engineering. What an A-ha moment for me. It is true that playing games on your phone releases endorphins, we're all aware of that right? The swiping right and finding out they swiped right too makes you feel like you’ve actually won something. Anotherwords, it's a cluster F*** of Fantastic Feelings. Are you starting to sympathize or empathize with me yet? Our brains LOVE to feel good. We want to feel good ALL the time. Wouldn't you agree?
I should also bring up some negative implications of the SBDA Addiction.
Have you heard of the term 'Ghosting'? There's definitely a presence of it in the SBDA world. It doesn't have a positive connotation for me. This is when an individual withdraws from a person’s life and ignores their attempts at communication. Ouch, doesn't that hurt just reading? But I have been guilty of ghosting too. Before online dating, someone was much more likely to date people from similar social circles. Soooo, if you acted like a jerk, eventually your friends would find out and call you out on it. There just isn't the same accountability these days. I live halfway across the country from most of my friends and family so that's very true for me as well.
Before online dating, someone was much more likely to date people from similar social circles.
As I was reading on I read about the effect on users' self-esteem. I saw many different opinions that said it could boost a positive self-esteem, but several said otherwise. I've also read that male users have also reported a fear of failure to get responses and this was resulting in a failure to attract desirable relationship partners. People perceive themselves to have many options available to them as well, so I believe this has much to do with infidelity, cheating, keeping others on the back burner in case the connection doesn't work out. The dating app environment may be overwhelming and, potentially, even disappointing. I was recently asked by a LA based Jewish Rabbi why I didn't desire a casual sexual relationship with him. He said he was still working through the emotions from his divorce and wasn't ready for any sort of commitment, and really just wanted something casual specifically with me, and probably quite possible a pool of other women. That has been the most shocking dating experience in LA since I moved here 3.5 years ago. I'll let you guess my decision on that one. If you know me you'll be able to come up with your own prediction.
Rejection is always part of dating, whether you meet someone virtually or in real life. I wish it wasn't but it's true. In the past a guy might only approach one person at a bar. Now you can send dozens of app messages that go unanswered. Unfortunately each one of those can feel like a rejection. Again, the behavior goes both ways. We are swiping through an endless sea of faces. It actually invites us to de-personalize other humans. We aren't looking at the whole person. We are really just basing our swiping decision on an image.
We are swiping through an endless sea of faces.
This is such an interesting topic and one that is applicable to me. My friends, I'm so glad you took the time to read my first entry. Sam Watson, you and Clubhouse were my inspiration to start a blog. I really appreciate creativity and insight and want to bring more to the world.
Here are some things I continue to ask myself to stay positive and grounded.
...in the right mental space to use a dating app?
...putting a time limit on my app use?
...trying to talk to the person as soon as possible?
...reaching out with positivity and kindness?
...fortifying my commitment to good vibes with proper boundaries?
My hope is one day I’ll meet an amazing life partner, a human man (vs virtual man) I can enjoy my free time with. As of today, I’ve decided to delete the SBDA’s. Gotta meet my sweetheart out in the natural world.
Stay beautiful, unique and inspired.
--Erika Lee Kline lives in beautiful Pasadena, California. She is fitness minded & enjoys hiking, biking, paddleboarding and wall climbing. She is a fully embodied Empath, a human rights advocate, ballroom/Latin dancer, a student of human behavior and an MI Practitioner. She is a Pediatric Diabetes Nurse working in Los Angeles at a Children's Hospital. You can find her on Clubhouse, TikTok & Instagram.