Starting the online dating process is scary but exciting. You take some nice photos, whip up a witty profile and start scrolling through all the possibilities, which seem endless. But if you’re like most people, the thrilling high is followed closely by lows.

High: You find someone who has an intriguing profile, from common interests to an immediate attraction.

Low: That person doesn’t match you back.

High: You send a message to someone who seems great.

Low: A couple days later, their location changes to a different state.

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High: You make plans for a first date after exchanging some banter.

Low: There’s no spark when you meet in person.

The dating may be online or on your phone, but it has real-world consequences. Putting yourself out there only to face rejection and disappointment — sometimes repeatedly in a day — unsurprisingly takes a toll on your mental health. According to VeryWellMind.com, dating app users face three times the amount of stress compared to nonusers. In addition, only 20% of dating app users said online dating is beneficial to their mood.

Feeling “unsuccessful” in your dating life can result in depression, poor body image and loneliness, among a host of other things. This is all made worse by apps that are within arm’s reach. Instead of only focusing on dating at social gatherings, it’s on your mind 24/7 because you’re constantly checking apps and websites to see if there’s any activity. Apps like Bumble almost ensure you check it at least once a day, as new messages disappear after 24 hours — and there’s a constant pressure to make sure you don’t miss out on “the one.”

All of this is overwhelming and exhausting — as if dating wasn’t already!

It’s important to take steps to avoid hits to your self-esteem while exploring the online dating world. Try to maintain balance in your life, sectioning off 30 minutes or so per day to check your apps. It may help to turn off notifications on your phone or email notifications so you’re only checking your profiles during your dedicated time.

And when you feel things are taking a negative turn, take a break. That break may last a day or a month, but when other parts of your life deserve your attention, whether that’s a big project at work or spending time with your family for holidays, it’s important to know when to put dating on the back burner.

Online dating opens the door to so many possibilities, exposing you to people you might not run into in everyday life and allowing even the busiest of people to be part of the single scene. But the feelings of anxiety and depression can increase — after all, we’re only human. Know yourself well enough to make good decisions for your mental health. At the end of the day, your longest and most vital relationship will always be with yourself.

Erika Ettin
Erika Ettin

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, eepurl.com/dpHcH, for updates and tips. ©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC