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Being vulnerable is hard. Often, the thought of putting yourself out there for the first time is anxiety-provoking — to say the least. According to McDowell, anxiety is deeply rooted in our thinking patterns.

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Before diving into my story of living with a mental illness, I first want to say something to you.

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A study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking suggests that dating apps are especially alluring for men and women with social anxiety and depression. Despite this allure, dating apps do not necessarily eliminate the dating struggles faced by this population — at least not for men.

The data revealed that men with greater social anxiety and depression symptoms were less likely to reach out to matches. In particular, people with social anxiety carry heightened fears of rejection and may withdraw from approaching potential romantic partners.

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People suffering from depression may avoid social gatherings and miss out on opportunities to meet others. When mobile dating apps emerged onto the scene, people who tend to avoid in-person socializing likely welcomed an opportunity to meet partners an easier way. As researcher Ariella P. Lenton-Brym and her colleagues say, these dating platforms offer a host of advantages that were likely recognized by people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Until now, no study had explored the use of dating apps among this population. The researchers recruited participants to complete a survey that questioned their use of dating apps.

Participants were also asked about their motivations for using the mobile dating app Tinder, by rating the extent that they used the app for love, casual sex, ease of communication, self-worth validation, thrill of excitement, and trendiness. In line with their suspicions, the researchers found that social anxiety and depression symptoms were linked to increased use of dating apps.

Symptoms of depression

The motivations for using these apps were somewhat similar among male and female respondents. Among both men and women, greater social anxiety and greater depression symptomology were both linked to a higher likelihood of using dating apps for the ease of communication, for casual sex, and for self-worth validation.

However, the study authors noted an overall pattern whereby women with symptomology were more likely to endorse motivations for using dating apps.

For example, only among women was greater social anxiety linked to using the apps for love. Again, only among women, both greater social anxiety and greater depression were linked to using dating apps for the thrill of excitement.

Another gender difference emerged when it came to the decision to reach out to dating matches. Men with greater social anxiety or greater depression reported being less likely to initiate contact with a match they were interested in.

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Among women, neither social anxiety nor depression affected their likelihood of being the first to engage with a match — instead, women were unlikely to initiate contact regardless of their symptomology. The researchers say that these findings likely reflect gender norms that expect men to make the first contact in a romantic scenario.

These findings also suggest that dating apps do not completely eliminate the hardships associated with dating as an individual with social anxiety or depression. Lenton-Brym, Vincent A. Santiago, Beverley K. Fredborg, and Martin M. PsyPost is a psychology and neuroscience news website dedicated to reporting the latest research on human behavior, cognition, and society.

Home Exclusive Mental Health Anxiety. Men Dating anxiety depression social anxiety and depression symptoms show greater dating app use but lower likelihood of contacting matches by Beth Ellwood.

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