Tinder sent me into a year-long depression

'Over time I was hating myself more and more all because strangers on the internet weren’t talking to me'

Swipe, update profile, change settings, answer Derrick, swipe again. It was easy to mindlessly go through the motions on Tinder, and it was just as easy to ignore the problem: it was destroying my self-image. 

I started my first year of college in a city new to me, Nashville, Tennessee. With no roommate and only a few thousand students at Belmont University, I was lonely. The best part of my days during the first few weeks of school was drinking Cheerwine and working on homework by myself in the “The Caf” (the quirky name Belmont students gave the dining hall).

Months went by, and while I had a few friends, I was still relatively miserable in the South. So, in a last-ditch effort to meet new people, I made a Tinder account. 

To be clear, I never wanted to be that person. Making a profile on a dating app made me feel like I was desperate. I was embarrassed I was so incapable of meeting anyone interesting in person that I wound up on a dating app. Even with these feelings, I was addicted to swiping. 

In December, I decided I wasn’t going back to Belmont. Up until that point, I had been hoping I’d meet someone amazing that would make me want to stay. 

But I didn’t.

Instead, most of my time on Tinder in Tennessee was spent being let down, canceled on, ghosted or ignored time and time again. Subconsciously, thoughts that maybe I deserved to be treated the way I had been snuck in. 

Growing tired of this pattern, I deleted Tinder. But I found myself back on it within days, and the cycle repeated.

When I started at ASU in January, naturally, I redownloaded Tinder and updated my profile — a whole new pool of potential matches, how could I not dive in? 

My friends would sign up for Tinder and go on a date with the first person they matched with while I couldn’t even get a response back. 

One of the only dates I went on turned out comically bad. The entire date — if you could even call it a date — was a trip to the Manzanita dining hall that lasted about 20 minutes. The staff was swapping the food from lunch to dinner when we arrived, so it was pretty barren. I ate a plate of roasted red peppers and pineapple while he had plain fries because “it’s lent.”

Needless to say, we didn’t continue talking after that. 

Eight long months of downloading, deleting, redownloading, swiping and getting unmatched finally caught up to me. 

“Maybe it’s because you’re ugly.”

“Maybe you’re boring.” 

“Maybe if you dressed better you’d get a response.”

Thoughts like this circled my head day in and day out. These feelings built up slowly, and over time I was hating myself more and more all because strangers on the internet weren’t talking to me. 

Tinder sent me into a year-long depression and I didn’t even realize it was happening. The girl I once knew who was confident, smiley and content was gone. Suddenly looking back at me in the mirror was a tired, miserable girl whose expertise was pointing out her flaws. 

It took a friend pointing out my negative self-talk and a full blown meltdown to fully comprehend that I spent the last year of my life learning to hate myself. 

Truthfully, counteracting this hatred is still relatively new to me.

And it’s hard. 

Last month I deleted my entire profile. Then a few days later, when I was bored, I made a new one. One day in and I deleted it again. It has always been a cycle like that for me. It’s hard to give up something for good when you’re still getting attention from it. 

This month, however, I’ve sworn it off for good and have stuck to it so far. 

Instead of spending hours on my phone trying to meet other people, I’m now making an effort to get to know myself. Taking myself out on shopping dates or getting a cup of coffee has done me good. Giving myself enough time to wake up and relax in the mornings, getting organized and treating my skin and body with care have all helped me along the way.

It hasn’t happened overnight. A year of being on Tinder can’t be undone with one face mask. 

There are still days I just want to lay in bed because I have no energy. There are still days I hate the person I see in the mirror. But I’m starting to love myself again, no thanks to Tinder.

Reach the reporter at swindom@asu.edu and follow @SaraWindom on Twitter. 

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