While lockdown has been necessary and undoubtedly difficult for everyone, it’s also been a major spanner in the works for many single people.
It’s no wonder so many single people who were previously up for meeting someone have just written the next few months off instead. But for those who still have even a glimmer of hope, new research into the psychology of how we use dating apps and dating sites may provide some comfort.
A fascinating (if you’re a sex and relationships nerd like us) study ‘A Rejection Mind-Set: Choice Overload in Online Dating’ has found an explanation for why so many of us will find ourselves becoming more ‘picky’ and less open to potential matches the more we use dating apps. And it’s known as the ‘rejection mindset’.
“The paradox of modern dating is that online platforms provide more opportunities to find a romantic partner than ever before, but people are nevertheless more likely to be single,” the researchers explained. So why could this be?
Assistant professor of social psychology at Tilburg University, Tila Pronk, told PsyPost,“The continued access to an almost limitless pool of potential partners when online dating has negative side effects: it makes people more pessimistic and rejecting. We coined this phenomenon the ‘rejection mindset.’ The consequence of the rejection mindset is that over time, people ‘close off’ from mating opportunities when online dating.” The researchers also found the rejection mindset was strongest in women.
In a series of three studies, participants were seen to immediately start to reject more hypothetical and actual partners when dating online, with the amount of potential matches they accepted decreasing by 27% on average from the first partner option they were shown to the last.
“This was explained by an overall decline in satisfaction with pictures and perceived dating success. For women, the rejection mind-set also resulted in a decreasing likelihood of having romantic matches. Our findings suggest that people gradually ‘close off’ from mating opportunities when online dating.”
The overwhelming choice and possibility of dating apps and dating sites has long been thought of as one of the reasons why so many of us are single when we’d rather not be.
But this research seems to show that the endless stream of options is actively impacting how open we are to actually meeting someone. Knowing that our dating app exhaustion is experienced by others, and that it’s a Real Thing, may mean we’re able to outthink that CBA feeling and overcome it.