All you have to do is swipe up, right? Wrong.

4:59 PM

Mutual and Tinder are popular apps for a reason. 
Students tell me that they are convenient and easy to use, they can make it easier to meet or connect with new people, it’s not as fearful to approach someone because you know they are interested in dating, and some people even meet their future spouse through using them. Those are the typical reasons that students give me for using them, and I don’t disagree.  

However, if you dig a bit deeper there a few other reasons these apps get a lot of love:
  • They feed our need for social approval and acceptance. Every “match” validates us in some way.
  • They utilize a varied reward system. Sometimes you get a match, sometimes you don’t. This unpredictable reinforcement increases the addictive nature of these apps and keep us coming back for more.
  • These apps help turn our phones into mini slot machines. Every time we get a notification, what is it going to be? Do we have a match?
  • For those who simply want to hook-up for some non-committal physical action, these apps can get people connected to those who don’t mind being treated as an object.
  • For those with ill-intent, these apps can serve as a tool to gain access to a lot of potential victims.
This is not an anti-Mutual and Tinder post. 
The truth is, these apps can open the door for the careful and well-intended to meet good people and connect in meaningful ways. However, many people get sucked into using these apps in an unhealthy way because of the motivations mentioned above. Others are well-intended but connect with someone who is not. Unfortunately, a lot of terrible things can happen from the inappropriate use of these apps. According to some research, use of these apps can increase the odds that someone becomes involved in unwanted sexual activity. It can increase the chances of being sexually assaulted. Even if that doesn’t happen, a number of women have reported having their physical appearance attacked verbally when they turn guys down.
I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t use these apps (although I do wonder if you should).

Rather, I am going to plea with you to be smart if you do. 

Using these apps appropriately can help you meet more people.

Using these apps inappropriately can lead people to waste their time seeking approval, interacting more with pictures than real people, or even starting their relationships out in a way that isn’t ideal. Sadly, it can even lead to sexual assault (even at a church school).
So, if you are going to use these apps, please be smart.

Here are some red flags to watch out for:
  • Persistence. How does someone handle the boundaries you set up? Do they get defensive with silence or rejection? Do they act entitled to your time, attention, or body? If you feel uncomfortable with how persistent they are, drop them.
  • How they chat. Do they offer over-the-top compliments (generally geared towards physical looks)? Are they overly flattering? Do they talk down to you? Threaten you? Start name-calling? Drop them.
  • Sexually-explicit conversations. “Are you a virgin?” “How far have you gone?” “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done sexually?” “What’s the biggest thing you’ve had to repent for?” “I am feeling naughty, are you?” If you get asked any of these types of questions through a Mutual connection, drop them. They view you more as an object than a person. One dating-app user even said this after being turned down: “You are not a person to me, just an object.” Drop them. They don’t deserve any of your time.
  • Going from 0 to 60 in few chats. Consider the conversation you are having with this person electronically. Would you have this same conversation with them face-to-face? Because you are not communicating with them in person, people feel less awkward saying things they really shouldn’t say. If conversations are going faster than what you would say online, stop it. If the conversation turns to past or potential sexual activity, stop it and drop them. If you feel uncomfortable with the content of the conversations, even if you have contributed to it, drop them.
  • Sexting. If someone ever asks you to send a sexually explicit picture of yourself, don’t. Drop them immediately. Many people will use these pictures to later blackmail you. Don’t give them the chance.
That’s not all! 
Paying attention to red flags is important, but you’ve got to do a lot more than that to keep yourself safe and your relationships healthy.
 
Keep in mind the following:
  • When going out, make sure you tell someone where you are going, who you are with, what you are doing. You should make sure that you have way of contacting them.
  • Before going out on a first date with someone from a dating app, see if you have mutual friends. If so, check with those mutual friends. If you don’t, you should exercise even greater precaution.
  • On a first date (or two), be sure you meet at the location rather than being picked up. This will make it easier to leave if necessary.
  • You might also consider starting with group dates before moving into solo dates with a stranger. If you think you aren’t strangers because you’ve spent hours chatting but spent limited (if any) time together in person-your strangers.
  • Don’t invest too much time or attention into a relationship with someone that you really don’t know. The more you invest, the more blinded you can become and the harder it is to pull away.
  • In your early chatting or dating, don’t share too much information with the other person. Remember, you just met them. If you’ve known them for only a few days or weeks (or hours), be careful what you choose to share. Sharing too much can blind us. Do you remember how Ana got duped by Hans in Frozen? 
  • Keep your hands off of each other on those first few dating app dates. I know it can be difficult because your date is super cute, but how do you know that they are not just using you for your body? If someone says something kind to you with the intent to push some sexual boundaries, they don’t love you, they are manipulating you.
  • If you are the one that is using Mutual or Tinder for a casual hook-up, you might consider what effect that is having on you and the other person. Do you have any idea what type of effect that is having on your future marriage? I have done enough therapy with couples to know that many marital problems come from the lustful seeds that are planted long before someone gets married. You reap what you sow. If you want an eventual marriage that is happy, satisfying, and secure, which I suspect most of you do, you need to plant the seeds of love, respect, and self-discipline. Casual hook-ups, such as NCMO’s, plant seeds of lust, selfishness, disrespect, and indulgence. If you’ve planted those seeds, I would stop nourishing them and instead root them out.
Just Because “It’s Mutual” Doesn’t Mean It’s Worth It
Dating apps weren’t a thing when I was looking for a wife, but they are now and most of you use them. Most of the people you will interact with on those apps are probably nice and decent human beings. However, some are not and too many people are getting taken advantage of. If you are going to use them, please be smart. And tell your roommates to be smart too.

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