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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UGA: Study Finds Rural Sexual Minorities Face Mental Health Risks When Using Dating Apps

For a sexual minority male living in a rural community, dating apps can be a useful way to find a potential partner. But these apps are not without risk.

According to a new study from the University of Georgia, sexual minority males, including gay, bisexual and trans-men, are likely to experience catfishing, bullying and coercion when using dating apps.

“The public health worry for so long has been dating app usage leads people to engage in more sexually risky behaviors, and I think that’s an important thing to look at, but that can’t be the only conversation we’re having,” said study author Dr. Carolyn Lauckner, an assistant professor of health promotion and behavior at the University of Georgia College of Public Health.

In recent years, dating app use has exploded, especially among sexual minority males – almost 8 in 10 gay men have reported using dating apps, and half of these users use dating apps frequently.

Much of the existing scholarship surrounding dating app use, says Dr. Lauckner, is focused on gay men living in large cities, but she wanted to know what it’s like using these apps in a rural setting, where being a sexual minority can be isolating.

Dr. Lauckner and her co-authors conducted 20 interviews with sexual minority males living in the rural South, and a few trends began to emerge from their responses. Catfishing and other forms of deception came up again and again.

“Deception is so commonplace within these dating apps that people just expect it, and they’re learning to strategize around it,” said Dr. Lauckner.

Read more about the study.