Online dating will damage your self-esteem and leaves people more upset about how they look.
A study has found putting pictures online, to be judged by strangers who can swipe right if they like you or left to reject you, only leads to insecurity.
People who have signed up to online dating are less happy with their face and body, worry more about being attractive and compare themselves to others.
The findings affect more than nine million people in Britain who have used a dating site or app. Those who have never looked for a partner online were found to spend much less time thinking about their appearance because they were not being ‘validated by others’.
The US study, published in the journal Body Image, states that dating sites give people only a short space to write about themselves, so that they are mainly judged on their photos.
Lead author Dr Jessica Strubel, from the University of North Texas, said: ‘Social network site users, anticipating the scrutiny of others, may become acutely focused on themselves, and try to present an image, through their posted photos, that approximates societal beauty ideals and accentuates their appearance.
‘Over time, this self-promotion and impression management, particularly when not validated (eg swiped left), may only worsen levels of self-objectification and body disparagement and lower self-esteem.’
The study, conducted by the University of North Texas, compared 100 users of dating site Tinder with more than 1,000 non-users.
People were put in the user group if they had an online dating account with Tinder and logged on two to three times a month or more.
The men were asked to rate their body satisfaction, in categories such as ‘muscularity of arms’, ‘leanness of stomach’ and overall body build. Women rated seven parts of their body, including their hips and thighs, and four categories for their face, including complexion.
The researchers found Tinder users were less satisfied with their face and body, felt more shame about their body and were more likely to compare their appearance to others, when compared with non-users.
Surprisingly men on the internet dating site suffered from the lowest self-esteem.
The authors write that the ultimate goal of modern dating is to be matched with someone, so people might not hesitate to pose for pictures in a way that draws attention to themselves and try to look attractive.
But Tinder especially can be used for entertainment or to find casual partners rather than dates. This can leave people feeling insecure if someone does not pick them by swiping left instead of right.
The problem is made even worse by these sites’ constant availability and the fact that people are usually being judged by their peer group of similarly aged people.
Dr Strubel said: ‘Our results suggest that Tinder represents a contemporary medium for appearance pressures and its use is associated with a variety of negative perceptions about body and self and with increases in individuals’ likelihood to internalise appearance ideals and make comparisons to others.’