Lots of lifters don't want girlfriends or boyfriends. They feel they're just time thieves. Besides, it's hard enough getting friends, parents, and siblings to understand why they spend so much damn time in the gym, so who needs yet another person making them feel guilty for begging out of the next gender-reveal party or whatever fresh hell he or she had planned for you?
Of course, not having a significant other presumably makes you miss out on a lot of regular sex. Enter Tinder and other dating apps, where finding someone to have sex with becomes super convenient – just another item to cross off the to-do list:
- Wash gym clothes
- Order more supplements
- Plan next week's workouts
- Push the love prowler into the flesh shed
The authors of a new study, though, seem to think that dating apps influence "unhealthy weight control behaviors." Specifically, they say that people who use these apps are more likely to use bodybuilding supplements, diet pills, and laxatives, in addition to practicing more fasting or vomiting, to make themselves get more swipes to the right.
They also found that users of dating apps are more likely to use steroids than non-Tinder users by an astounding factor of 16.2. Personally, I think they've got it backwards and that people who use steroids are more likely to use Tinder than non-steroid users, but let's look at their results.
What They Did
The Harvard University researchers gave questionnaires to 1,726 people between the ages of 18 and 65 and found that 17% of them used dating apps. A significant portion of this 17% confessed to having tried to slim down or improve their appearance in an "unhealthy" way during the previous 12 months.
"Unhealthy" was defined as having used one of the following six methods to lose weight: vomiting, laxative use, fasting, diet pill use, muscle building supplement use, or use of anabolic steroids.
What They Found
The authors of the study wrote that users of dating apps had "substantially elevated odds of UWCBs (unhealthy weight control behaviors) compared with non-users":
- 11.7% of the women who used dating apps had used laxatives as a means of losing weight, as compared to 18.8% of the men.
- 9% of the women had used vomiting for weight control, as compared to 16% of the men.
- 30% of the women had used fasting, as compared to 36% of the men.
- 13% of the women had used diet pills, as compared to 16.7% of the men.
- 7.9% of the women had used bodybuilding supplements, as compared to 28.7% of the men.
- 4.8% of the women had used steroids, as compared to 14.6% of the men.
Compared to women who didn't use dating apps, female users of dating apps had 2.3 to 26.9 times the odds of engaging in all six UWCBs, whereas men who used dating apps were between 3.2 to 14.6 times more likely to engage in all six UWCBs than men who didn't use the apps.
The researchers concluded that dating apps, along with mass media in general, "contributes to body dissatisfaction by perpetuating dominant body image ideals for men and for women. For men, this culturally constructed, dominant ideal is often one that is generally muscular with little body fat. For women, the thin-ideal is often the idealized social norm for the female body..."
What This Info Means to You
It doesn't take an expert in human behavior to hypothesize that dating apps put a lot of pressure on people to look good. It's the modern-day, anthropological equivalent of a baboon wetting down his cowlick before hitting on the female whose signaling her estrus through her red colored buttocks and provocative way of nibbling on a banana.
Further, I take issue with the "unhealthy weight control behaviors" categorization. There are tens of thousands of people who do some form of intermittent fasting or use some type of bodybuilding supplementation and they'd bristle at the notion that they were doing something unhealthy.
Even steroids can be used to enhance health, although I'll readily admit they're rarely used that way.
As far as their conclusion that the dating apps make people more likely to engage in some of these "unhealthy" behaviors, namely taking supplements and using steroids, I maintain it may in fact be the opposite, that people who use bodybuilding supplements or steroids are more likely to use dating apps.
After all, a healthy animal is a horny animal, particularly if he's taking a synthetic version of testosterone. For him (or her) having access to something like Tinder is like someone with an insatiable sweet tooth living in an apartment over a Cheesecake Factory.
- Tran, Alvin, et al. "Dating app use and unhealthy weight control behaviors among a sample of U.S. adults: a cross-sectional study," Journal of Eating Disorders, May 31, 2019.