If you’ve ever used an online dating app, you’ve probably had a moment of utter exasperation where you’ve asked yourself, “Why are these people on this app if they don’t really want dates?!”
Whether you’re using an app or the desktop equivalent, unfortunately you’re going to meet people who are seemingly only online to waste everyone’s time – for example, people who prefer to have a penpal-like relationship with you and dodge any opportunity to actually meet up. Sound familiar?
There have been many times in my own dating career where I’ve been one meandering text conversation away from punching my hand through a wall. But, as these kinds of situations work our last nerve, online time-wasters may not necessarily have nefarious intentions. In fact, these non-committal singles may just be looking for an ego boost. Simple as that.
According to Psychology Today, singles are using apps like Tinder for reasons other than just love and sex. Research by Sumter, Vandenbosch, and Ligtenberg (2016) collected responses from 266 current and former Tinder users between the ages of 18 and 30. The study participants indicated how often they used the app, whether they had succeeded in meeting a Tinder match offline and how many Tinder one-night hookups they’d had. Respondents were also asked to reveal to what extent they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about why they used Tinder, such as, “to contact a romantic partner,” “to find someone to have sex with,” and “to feel better about myself.”
The study found that while participants reported they use Tinder for love and sex, they also use it for generating a sense of validation and self-worth.
I get it. Humans love flattery. Receiving a notification of a Tinder match – a sign that someone thinks you’re attractive – is obviously going to make you feel good and add some pep to your step. In fact, participants in this study said that they have used Tinder to receive positive feedback on their appearance and improve their self-esteem.
While Psychology Today points to other research saying the need for validation of one’s physical appearance by others has been found to be more important for females than for males, in this study no differences were found. In other words, both males and females sometimes use the app for a much needed ego boost.
But how do you separate the people who are looking for love from the folks who are just looking for personal validation? Good question. Here are a few signs you might be dealing with a time waster and should cut your losses.
- They spell it out in their profile.
It’s very possible that they have nothing written in their profile at all – after all, if you were serious about meeting people online, you’d at least want to include something about yourself, right? Alternatively, they may have something that says, “Just here checking things out” or “Not sure what you’re looking for.” This is a dating app. People are looking for dates. What’s so wrong about admitting that?
- There are really long delays between your messages.
You ask them how their weekend is going. They reply on Wednesday (“Great!”) They seem interested in meeting up, but when you ask them what days and times work best for them, they take a week to respond. Maybe this person is interested in dating, but it’s just not a priority for them right now. Either way, don’t invest too much energy in this person. There are lots of other people out there who are ready and available to date.
- They seem more interested in having a penpal than meeting up.
You’ve sent multiple messages and/or texts and there’s absolutely no mention of meeting up. When you suggest a date, they either dodge the subject or provide an excuse. Clearly this person is not actually interested in going on dates or isn’t available. Next!