By now you’ve probably either dipped your toe into the world of online dating, or you know someone who has. Seeking love in cyberspace seems more normal than ever. Yet, shame and online dating are common as there are still some stigmas attached to it.

The good news? A full 30% of U.S. Internet users from 18-29 currently use dating apps or websites. Online dating is no longer a last ditch effort to find someone to connect with anymore.

Still, statistics can only take you so far. You might find that you feel ashamed based on old dating stereotypes. Or, you might be hesitant to jump into the digital dating world for other reasons. It’s important to take some time and examine your feelings about the process and how it feeds certain perceptions about yourself.

Let’s take a closer look at shame and online dating  and what you can do to protect yourself physically and emotionally.

Shame and Online Dating

On the surface, dating online or through an app seems limitless. There are countless numbers of people “looking for love,” and many of them probably share similar interests or values. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it easy to find someone to connect with.

If you’ve tried online dating before, you already know that people are making judgments based upon a profile picture and perhaps one or two short sentences about you.  Admit it, you’re guilty of that with others too.

And the limitless choices can make it much harder to actually choose – especially if you focus on the possibility of making the wrong choice.  You can spend countless hours browsing through profiles, answering questions about yourself to get better matches, or checking and sending emails to people you find interesting. If you do all of this and still reject each prospect, frustration grows. Worse can be the humiliation you might feel when you get no bites from those whom you’ve approached.

Another connection between shame and online dating is the isolation factor.  No longer is the norm to be prowling out on the town, getting encouragement and approval from your besties.   Instead, you’re likely in your home alone imagining everyone else is dining with their partners while you’ve been sucked into the vortex of the dating app yet again.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

This isn’t to say dating in cyberspace is wrong, or even a bad idea. Many people have found partners through online dating. According to, a full 23% of respondents surveyed in 2018 found long term partners and a full 30% reported having one or more dates via online dating.  But, there are a few rules to keep in mind. Protecting yourself in the world of digital dating can save you time and frustration.

6 Ways to Protect Yourself From Shame and Online Dating

  1. Go “offline” as quickly as possible. Keeping texting to a minimum will help you to determine if the person you’re interested in is worth it or not. Offer to meet them relatively quickly. If they aren’t interested, you’ll know you can move on without much emotional investment.
  2. Meet up for a first date somewhere quick and casual. Try meeting for coffee rather than a long dinner. That way, you can avoid wasting time if you’re not interested. And if you are interested, you can plan a second  date.  Make it convenient for yourself – near work or home and at a time that feels comfortable for your schedule.
  3. End the first date quickly.  Even if you’re intrigued and especially if you’re not,  put less of your time and emotional resources into a first date. If it’s right at all, have faith that you will meet again.
  4. Think of “Dating Apps” as “Meeting Apps”.  This can put less pressure on a first date.  If you met someone in a park or a bar, you’d be much less stressed about the prospect of a future or finding the right person.  You’d just be talking to someone to assess if you even want a first date.
  5. Don’t take ghosting personally!  It’s going to happen, it’s the current phenomenon.  If you get ghosted, try to think of it as dodging a bullet.
  6. If a potential date cancels the first date more than once, write them off.  They are way too ambivalent about dating and and they are not being respectful of your time.

Don’t Give Up on Online Dating

Online dating and dating apps are still a great way to meet people and connect. In our busy and sometimes isolating world, it can be the only way for some people to meet.  Unless you are willing to attend singles events, networking events, have a wide variety of potential workmates or a healthy supply of friends who are able to set you up, then online dating may be the way to go.

When you’re able to look at online dating in a more casual, curious fashion, you’re less likely to feel humiliated by it. And you’re far less likely to waste your time trying to make matches where they don’t exist.  And if you are able to relax a bit, it’s very possible that the right person for you could just be on the other side of the screen.   You’re simply making the most of the technology, while protecting yourself along the way.

Guarding your time and caring for yourself are important as you search for a mate.  No potential partner is worth your humiliation. Set limits and keep dates as much in the real world and face-to-face as you can, it can change the entire online dating experience for you.  And if you find the shame to be more than you can bare, therapy can be very helpful. Call me or 917-873-0506 to set up a consultation.

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