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How Online Dating Apps are Keeping You Single

Could online dating apps be keeping you single?

How is this possible? Don’t most people meet online?

It’s not the apps themselves but how you approach online dating that may be the problem. I call it the ‘shoppers mindset’ let me explain what it is, and what you can do instead.


Have you ever thought about the business model behind online dating apps?

Online dating is a billion-dollar industry. The industry is similar to a video game. The goal is to hook people to get them to visit frequently. They are less about helping you find love as they want to keep you single. Even on the free sites, they are collecting information from you. As a business, they make money either selling your information or from paid advertisers.

In order to keep you hooked in, the app continually sends you new matches. With so many new matches you think, Wow there is an endless supply of choices. So many choices create what is known as ‘the paradox of choice.’ You think, maybe there is someone better out there? I must not settle!


When you go online two things become important: your pictures and your content.

Because images are not searchable, the app uses various categories to filter members.  Categories include location, age, marital status, income, and fitness levels in order to help you narrow your search similar to online shopping. Other sites match you based on religion, sexual preferences, and specific niche markets. Because you don’t have time to screen all applicants the search feature allows you to narrow your options.

The problem is that this very search feature creates something I call the ‘shoppers mindset.’

Two problems happen as a result:

  1. You get disappointed when you don’t get what you ‘deserve.’
  2. You become more critical and eliminate people.


You spend a fair amount of time thinking about who you are and what you are looking for. You write a profile that is thoughtful and sincere. In your profile, you are clear, “I love to travel and am looking for someone to explore the world.”

However, a man without a passport contacts you and says, hey I like your profile, I think we have a lot in common. You think, “Wow, can’t he read?” You attract many such men and you are disappointed. The problem is that by going through the effort of being specific you think that only certain people will work for you.

WHEN LESS is more

The advantage of meeting a person online is that you have more information about them than if you had met organically.

But is more information always better?

A client of mine shared with me this text exchange:

Wow, I wish you would have told me you have a cat. It doesn’t make sense that we should meet after all. I have a dog and it just won’t work. Good luck to you on your search.

This example is a case of information being used to eliminate someone. It was harsh and based upon the belief that certain criteria are deal breakers. But had these two people met in real life, at work or at a social event and found a connection, might they have found a way to make their differences work? Who knows, maybe your dog and their cat would be compatible?

The problem is that people use the cliff notes on someone’s life literally. You can make assumptions about someone that are not accurate with very little information. In real life, people tend to be more forgiving and accommodating than they are online.


Another inherent problem with narrowing your online search is that the algorithm tells you what to search for. You search, for a Christian, Vegan man over 6′ tall. When you do find one, you are thrilled.

But besides being a Christian Vegan, he is also highly insecure, has anger issues and little relationship experience. However, online dating does not help you screen for personality traits that are perhaps more important. Even if they had these categories people see themselves in a better light and want to ‘fake good.’  It takes time to figure out who someone is and only you can figure out what traits, values, and characteristics are most important to you.


The biggest difference between online shopping and dating is that the process involves two people. Unlike your search for the perfect black dress, a prospective partner needs to choose you also.

In reality, you only have control over your half of the equation, specifically, what images you post, what you say about yourself and how you respond to people.


Online dating, however, doesn’t have to be so daunting, negative, or frustrating if you are aware of the business model. Get smart about the business model of online apps and make them work for you.

Depending on your specific problem, too many choices, or not enough your solutions will be different. If you are not attracting enough mates, get better pictures, update your profile and be more open. If you are overwhelmed by too many options think of this as a good thing and recognize that your profile is in fact, ‘working for you.’ Keep your energy positive instead of getting frustrated. Take breaks and put your profile on hold as necessary.

Try the following tips for more success:

  1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET: Eliminate the shopper’s mindset. Throw away your list of 222 non-negotiables. No match will be perfect. Lighten up on the minor details.
  2. MEET IN PERSON ASAP: You’re online to meet a pen pal, not a pen pal or a text buddy. Suggest meeting in person as soon as possible. While it makes sense to verify someone identity online don’t overthink the first meeting or eliminate someone prematurely.  Chemistry can only be assessed by meeting someone in person.
  3. BE REALISTIC: When it comes to finding a partner, what specifics are important? Geographic location is often underlooked. Unless you can move 500 miles for love it probably makes sense to look for someone local. 


Online dating is simply a means to an end. Try not to take things personally or feel rejected when you like someone and they don’t feel the same. Dating is really a numbers game and you don’t have time to worry about those who are not interested in you. To help you feel more in control of your search, turn off push notifications. Keep a positive attitude and check the app periodically but try not to get overwhelmed. People are likely to be successful in the end by not losing hope or quitting out of frustration. 

Many couples in successful long-term relationships will tell you that if they had met their partner online they may not have been an obvious fit. In real life, people are more forgiving. If two people have a strong connection they can overcome differences. It’s Ok to be selective but you must also be curious. Dating can be fun when you are open to meeting new people. The right person may surprise you!

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