You can’t watch anything on TV these days without seeing an ad for a dating app. The selling point for most of them seems to be that they’re more scientific about making a match or the people who use them are more serious about dating—all leading to some version of, “We’ll make sure you get married and live happily ever after.”
If you’re a marriage or relationship addict, this is wrong for you in so many ways. Dating apps reinforce all the ideas you need to get away from.
The first is that you always need to be dating, with the goal of getting married. These apps stay in business by reinforcing social stereotypes that people need to be paired up to be happy, and that dating and marriage must be everyone’s ultimate goal. In real life, you can be happy alone or miserable in a relationship. Or it could be the other way around. Happiness does not depend on pairing up.
The second problem is the idea of “happily ever after.” That’s a fantasy. And if there’s one thing marriage addicts need to stop fantasizing about, it’s that the perfect partner will sweep them up into the perfect marriage so they can live happily ever after. Real-life couples have happy times and tough times, times when they want to be together every moment and times when a little goes a long way. They know they will never get everything they need in life from just one relationship.
Having unrealistic expectations about a partner is a recipe for disappointment and disaster. No one can save you or turn around your life by being perfect for you. You’re responsible for your own life, and only you can make it great or make it miserable—or somewhere on that wide spectrum in between where most of us live.
That hot but sensitive guy or cute but no-nonsense woman in the dating app commercial does not hold the key to your happiness. You do. But dating apps keep tempting you to believe otherwise.
Since marriage can be addicting, let’s consider an example using a more well-known addiction—gambling. If you fantasize that being rich is the only way to be happy, and that the best way to get rich is to play casino slot machines, you’re going to spend all your free time and all your money playing slot machines, becoming poor and unfulfilled and never actually being happy. That’s time you could have spent actually working to earn some money, and energy you could have invested in figuring out what you’re good at and passionate about to make a successful career for yourself.
Likewise, if you keep playing the dating app slot machine, you’re going to invest all your time and energy chasing a fantasy relationship, rather than figuring out what’s really going to make you happy, and then going about getting it.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of the award winning book The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.