Rebecca S. Heiss Ph.D.


Swiping Right Into Unhappy

Is that dating app ruining more than your chance at love?

Posted Sep 08, 2018

A few months ago, at the urging of more than a few friends, I reluctantly re-entered the world of dating with the help of a couple of dating apps. We can all probably agree that the concept of trying to select a mate by swiping left or right after a 20-second look at a few of their carefully curated photographs is likely not the best approach to finding a compatible life partner.

But as shallow as this process might seem, its paltriness really isn’t my issue.

It’s the sheer number of possible swipes I can make!

So many profiles!

Variety may be the spice of life but in this case, the spices seem to be turning the recipe for love into a jumbled mess of undesirable flavors.

Study after study continues to demonstrate that humans believe having more choices in life grants us greater freedom and happiness. The reality, however, is far more counterintuitive.

For example, in one study, researchers found that when subjects were confronted with 24 to 30 options, they were significantly less satisfied with their final choice than those participants who had just 6 options to choose from. Human ability to manage multiple decisions is highly limited, which means that when we are presented with too many choices we avoid decisions—and/or our satisfaction in the choice we do ultimately make is much lower.

Pexels / Pixabay
I wonder if my other match is cuter?
Source: Pexels / Pixabay

Applying this logic to dating apps, some of which boast over 16,000 swipes/second, how happy are the users with any of their choices? I’d argue, pretty miserable.

 Even if users match and go together on a date, those other matches, or even potential right swipers, are never far off. Other possibilities and choices make it far too easy to fall into our hedonistic tendencies to chase something better. With a seemingly endless array of swipes available, that great first date suddenly seems, well, not nearly as satisfying as it might be with the next match.  Our happiness and satisfaction in potential partners are literally being swiped by the number of possible choices.

So what’s to be done?

I don’t want to limit anyone else’s social circle but as for me, I’m going with the advice my grandmother gave me long before any dating apps hit the scene.

“Don’t let your options be your burdens.”

And to that end, I think I’ll be swiping left on the app approach for the foreseeable future and instead focusing on building the amazing relationships I already have around me.


Iyengar, S. S., & Lepper, M. R. (2000). When choice is demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(6), 995-1006.