Tinder and Bumble

Dating apps have done us a tremendous service by lowering the barrier to dating. It’s easier than ever to start a conversation online that leads to a more comfortable in-person conversation.

Dating apps have also done us a tremendous disservice in lowering the barrier to dating. Now that conversations can start online, the courage to start a conversation in-person is less relevant than ever. You can avoid it for a lifetime if you’d like.

Online vs. offline isn’t the problem — courage is the problem. More accurately, anxiety is the problem, because you can only be courageous after confronting your anxiety. And in order to confront your anxiety you need to be able to accept it in the first place.

Accepting anxiety is called coping. Mental health therapists working with college students will tell you they’ve seen a huge rise in cases of anxiety over the last decade. They’ve also seen a vast decline in coping skills.

It’s much easier to start dating online because it doesn’t require coping skills. It’s much easier to deal with conflict in a group text because it doesn’t require coping skills. It’s much easier to tweet about your crush than talk to him because it doesn’t require coping skills.

Smartphones aren’t going away. The only solution, for now, is to realize how often you’re using your phone to run away from anxiety. You could be practicing coping skills instead.

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