Internet Dating Addiction:
Article written by Gary Skrzek, President, iMarket®
How long have you been using Internet Dating sites? If it's been more than 6 months and you have had muliple dates but not happy with anyone than this may be about you?
You always have several interesting people on the go at once; people you email back and forth with but keep at a distance. You concentrate on one person and use your stall tactics on the others to keep them in reserve. You go out on a date with that person. Once you are on the date there is no excitement or anticipation anymore and you lose interest and start noticing negative stuff about the person like the cut on their ear or pimple on their nose. You say to yourself this is not the right person and you start thinking about the people in reserve that you have been stalling. You even add a person or two to keep your reserve basket full. You focus on the next person, go out and meet for coffee and you lose interest again. This has been going on for years and you have met a lot of people but never the right one. Every time you meet someone you think you can do better. It's not ego, it addiction thresholds. If this sounds like you then you may be a dating site addict.
95% of women and men on dating sites have been on them for years and years meeting many different people but cannot seem to find the right person. Ironically people brand new to dating sites have a 1000 times greater chance of meeting someone that's right for them just after a few days or weeks. How can this be?
In the fall of 2004 I joined a dating site and after a couple of days I met a woman and had a long-term relationship with her. She had just joined the dating site as well because she was recently divorced. Now 8 years later I go back to the same dating site and what do I see; 90% of the women that had profiles then are still on the site and still looking. I am sure it's the same for men. This is what motivated me to draft a profile of the dating site addict based on alcohol and gambling addiction studies I was involved with. I am sharing it with you so you can better understand yourself and other people.
The reason you can't find the right person is your addiction to dating sites is sabotaging any emotional bonds between you and a potential mate because a steady relationship does not fit into the addiction model or an addiction lifestyle. Anticipation is a powerful emotion, which is a form of excitement. This emotion causes your brain to produce endorphins & dopamine. Endorphins & dopamine stimulate the pleasure centre of your brain and your brain really likes that. Mass amounts of endorphins & dopamine do not cause addiction; rather a constant up-and-down rhythm of endorphins & dopamine in your system causes addiction because your brain gets used to the rhythm and expects or anticipates the next coming flood of endorphins & dopamine and this is what causes addiction.
It might be an easier perspective to grasp if you look at alcohol abuse. People that go out every couple of weeks and get wasted on alcohol don't become alcoholics as frequently as people that just have a beer after work every day or a glass of wine with dinner every day and never get drunk. These are the people that become alcoholics because they created a rhythm of endorphin & dopamine production, which the brain becomes accustom to. With alcoholism, your liver produces most of the endorphins while with gambling and dating site addiction, your brain produces the dopamine. Both endorphins & dopamine stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, which leads to addiction.
All addictions work the same way. Let's look at gambling with slot machines vs. dating sites. A gambler presses the button with anticipation of winning. This creates a tiny production of endorphins & dopamine. This time they did not win anything. They press the button again with the anticipation of winning something and get a tiny amount of endorphins & dopamine, but they did not win anything. This goes on and on and on creating a rhythm of ups and downs of endorphin levels, which the brain becomes accustom to, which really means addicted to. The level of addiction jumps in intensity when new thresholds are reached.
The gambler keeps pressing that button. Every 25 spins they win a tiny bit. Every 100 spins they win a little bit. Every 300 spins they win something, every 900 spins they hit a small jackpot, every 3000 spins they win a medium size jackpot, every 8000 spins they win a big jackpot. Every level of jackpot they win makes them think the next level of jackpot is feasible to achieve thus with the giant jackpot being feasible in their brain, the anticipation level of every other spin increases and the brain's anticipation of higher levels of endorphins & dopamine increases. All jackpots smaller than the current addiction threshold become non-satisfactory, which is the same as a 400 pound women waiting for a man, with a professional athlete's body, to sweep her off her feet. Even if she did meet that man, she now thinks she can do better. The gambler will not cash out and go home because their brain is saying the giant jackpot is feasible so keep gambling and forget about those smaller jackpots. Your brain does not care about money, the value of money, how hard it is to make money or how many late bills you have. It cares about increasing endorphin levels. Money and slot machines are just physical mediums to increase endorphin and dopamine production and stimulate the pleasure centre of the brain.
Let's look at dating site addiction in the same manor as gambling. Every 25 emails you meet someone you want to email back. The anticipation releases a tiny bit of endorphins & dopamine. Every 100 emails you meet someone you want to have a conversation with, which releases even higher levels of endorphins & dopamine. Every 200 emails you meet someone you want to chat with on-line in real time. Every 300 emails you meet someone you want to talk to on the phone. Every 400 emails you meet someone you want to meet with for coffee. The levels of anticipation keep rising and the production of endorphins & dopamine keeps rising as well. These are just fictitious numbers but you get my drift.
Each level you achieve raises the brain's awareness of the potential for higher levels of endorphins & dopamine. I call this addiction threshold. The gambler will not cash out and go home, they try to win that giant jackpot until they have no money left at all. The 400 pound woman will not settle for the man with the athletic body, she'll wait for someone better. With dating site addiction, replace the term giant jackpot with Brad Pitt for women or Angelina Jolie for men. The odds of a person meeting someone like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie on the dating site are astronomical yet there are millions of people on dating sites that are waiting for that jackpot that will never come. With gambling, 95% of people walk out of the casino with no money. In a dating perspective, we can replace money with time. People have nobody and run out of time and end up being alone most or all of their lives. The availability of dating sites on the Internet is increasing the amount of dates but actually decreasing the amount of people in a relationship. People on dating sites are slowly turning their hearts into clay and losing their capacity to love because they are starting to disassociate living people with love and starting to associate their computer with a source of love. It's the same with another sociological phenomenon, which is just starting to be explored, called Porn Creeping. People that masturbate to porn on the Internet start to disassociate sexual desires with real living people and become sexually dysfunctional. Sexual dysfunction used to be a symptom of a week cardiovascular system but now people suffering from Porn Creeping are thrown into the mix, which is causing a lot of misdiagnosis.
There are millions of people on dating sites that have met compatible people that would have made great husbands or wives but the brain's addiction and anticipation for higher levels of endorphins & dopamine to stimulate the pleasure centre of the brain sabotages the possibility of a relationship. When a dating site addict matches the highest threshold presently achieved or achieves a higher threshold, it may result in a short-term relationship of a couple of weeks to a couple of months but ultimately the relationship is doomed without the subjects being consciously aware of it or understanding why. It's the same as a gambler winning a nice jackpot and walking out of the casino saying they will never gamble again but it's a short commitment and they will be back at that casino and will gamble away everything they won trying to reach that next bigger jackpot.
You may ask; how can my brain sabotage a relationship without me noticing. My brain is me. They are my thoughts. Evolution over-all is a slow process but not always with the human brain. Our brains did not gradually grow bigger, rather every couple of million years human brains jumped great leaps with the addition of new layers. Humans actually have three brains and all serve different levels of functionality on different levels of consciousness. The more primitive layer is the Reptilian Brain, then the Paleomammalian Brain and finally the Neomammalian Brain. They don't always work as a team and don't always agree with what's best for the overall organism, which is you. You may do things that you are not consciously aware of. Let's get back to sabotage.
The addicted part of your brain can sabotage your chance for a relationship because it does not want what other parts of your brain want. It does not want you to meet that special person and settle down. It wants you to keep going through the looking process and producing those yummy endorphins & dopamine. What the addicted part of the brain does is look for more addictions to reinforce its power over you. These secondary addictions are called Positive Reinforcements. Heavy drinkers usually start smoking. Nicotine becomes an additional addiction that is a positive reinforcement of drinking. When you drink you have to have a smoke. When you smoke you think about having a drink. This causes your behavior to change and alters your actions to cater to the addiction. You stop hanging around with people that don't smoke or drink. You stop participating in activities that don't involve smoking or drinking. Once that is achieved, you stop participating in everything. You become antisocial and withdrawn from society. You spiral down. People that are addicted to dating sites have a much higher propensity for substance abuse problems and social dysfunction because their addiction to dating sites is looking for secondary addictions to reinforce its power over you. If you already have substance abuse problems before joining an Internet dating site, Internet dating might be your secondary addiction. People with addictions feel the need to hide their addictions. They develop a Pathological Lying Disorder, which is why 90% of people that smoke, do drugs or are heavy drinker's state on their profiles that they do not smoke, don't do drugs and only drink socially. This pathological lying can expand and infiltrate into their every days lives to the point where they start to lie to friends and family in matters not related to their dating site addiction. If you met a person on a dating site and you are in a relationship with them it is highly probable that they still have profiles somewhere and they are still looking to meet new people.
The dating site addiction is the same as any addiction. You meet a really nice person with a good personality and they are attractive. The addicted part of your brain sees this as a threat and steps forward and gets you to focus on all the negative aspects of that person and eliminate positive thoughts. That person has a big pimple or her hair was weird or he is too heavy etc…etc…etc… No matter how stupid, the addicted brain reaches out to find fault. Addiction can cause you to develop what's called a Narcissistic Personality Disorder where you become extremely defensive and only focus on your own needs without any consideration for other people and justify your behavior by focusing on the negative aspects of the person who is a threat to your addiction. Many people on dating sites are too far gone and are nasty to everybody for this reason. Intelligent hard working people that are great with their kids, love animals and are just delightful with their friends many times turn into vicious animals when you contact them on a dating site or go on a date with them or approach them on any level which threatens their addiction. They are not there to meet you and have a nice dinner, they are there to feed their addiction and make sure you are just used as a medium to feed that addiction. They started off looking for love and slowly evolved into an addict.
Real Life Example: I went out on a date with a woman that I met on a dating site. In the initial contact stages she was extremely excited and enthusiastic and even started being erotic in her emails. She told me she was into cycling and hiking and ate healthy and lived a clean life style. When I met her at the restaurant she showed up with a nasty disposition never intending to have a successful meeting. She lied about her age and life style and the pictures she sent me were from 15 years ago and 200 pounds ago. She wolfed down about 5 beers during dinner even though she told me she does not drink. She was living in a fantasy world and addicted to the anticipation of meeting me and not interested in actually meeting me. The thoughtless consumption of alcohol was a reinforcement addiction, which was helping her addiction to dating sites prepare her nasty disposition, which is her addicted brain's defense against finding a relationship. In her mind, she justified her behavior by being disappointed that Brad Pitt was not sitting in that chair across from her.
I call this condition the "Grass is Always Greener Syndrome". The funny thing is I have come across notes on message boards and there are many other people that come up with the same term when trying to describe dating site addiction.
Article written by Gary Skrzek
© Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
Below is ia a quick medical description of Endorphines & Dopamine