Navigating Digital Love: A Sex Coach’s Insights into Women’s Mental Health and Online Dating

In a world where your love can be just one swipe away, our dating lives are ultimately shaped by technology and invisible algorithms. Slow and often community-based in the past, romance has become entirely digitized. And if we all understand the benefits of sexual freedom, easy connectivity, and the abundance of choice, modern dating high-tech style can take its toll on our mental health - a concern that few consider.
Despite numerous dating apps with thousands and thousands of users of all genders at our fingertips, we are still lonely, confused, and often sexually dissatisfied. Social anxiety, burnout, depression, and self-esteem issues are just the tip of the iceberg of mental health issues of dating apps users. So, how can we strike a healthy balance between digital romance and our mental well-being? Recognizing the need for professional guidance in the digital dating world, Flure shares essential insights from our very own Catherine Drysdale, a certified sex and relationship coach.
Hello Catherine, please introduce yourself.
Hey, I’m Catherine Drysdale! I’m a sex coach and a board-certified practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and Hypnosis. Like so many women I experienced sexual assault in college, and have also faced many challenges when it comes to relationships. Because I had a rocky journey myself, this is what inspired me to support my clients (who are mostly women) in healing trauma to experience more pleasure. At Flure, my mission is to build an incredible community and make conversations about pleasure and intimacy more accessible for everyone.
How do you view the relationship between mental health, dating, and sexuality?
Most people don’t realize that sexual health is mental health. If you are feeling unfulfilled about your sex life or dating life, it’s likely to affect your overall happiness and health.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest problem with dating apps?
It’s all about the illusion of easy connections and the abundance of choice. Having access to instant online connections doesn't mean we aren’t lonely. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Since the COVID pandemic started, people are struggling with loneliness more than ever, and most dating apps fail to provide a platform that fosters that intimacy and connection that we so desperately crave.
Why do you think people are lonely despite being connected?
Let’s be honest: most dating apps aren’t interested in satisfying your needs or curing the loneliness epidemic. They are interested in growing and retaining their audience, and are designed to keep you on the app as a paying customer for as long as possible. But even with modern technology it can be challenging to provide a universal solution to an endless spectrum of individual needs.
What is your main advice to women who are actively using dating apps?
Most women get this wrong when it comes to dating. You play a numbers game and try to go on as many dates as possible hoping that the next profile you swipe on is the one – or at the very least the next one. You perfectly curate your profile, your conversation, and maybe even what you eat (or don’t) because you want to be seen as desirable to the person sitting across from you.
What you should do instead is figure out what your specific desires are when it comes to dating, your five core values, and what your dating goals are. This is crucial to determining baseline compatibility. If you are monogamous, you won’t have a deep and meaningful connection with someone who is into ethical non-monogamy, period. The same goes for other important things like having kids or political affiliation is important to you. Now when you’re on the apps you are in the driver's seat and get to see if this person is a fit into your life. Act like you’re a company interviewing for a role, not being concerned about if they like you. That doesn’t matter if your goals aren’t in line.
How is Flure different from the other apps?
Flure is different from other apps because it has women’s desires, comfort, and safety at the forefront. Safe Mode is already turned on when you first connect with someone until you’re ready to give the green light for spicer conversations. It’s a place that’s inclusive to your gender identity, sexual-orientation, relationship style, and kinky interests. You can also turn on Sparks Game to ignite conversations and explore your desires.
What’s the role of the community in modern dating?
Community is so important when it comes to modern dating. While dating apps have given us greater access to more people that we wouldn’t have met IRL, most people would still like to meet people more organically. This is why I’m so excited to be in this role at Flure to build local communities here in NYC to bring sex-positive folks together in a more organic way that can support online connections. The more we feel supported by our community, the more likely we are able to enjoy the dating experience.
What is sex-positivity, and why do we need to be sex-positive?
To me sex-positivity is celebrating the vast landscape of sexuality that’s inclusive of all genders, sexual orientations, relationship styles, body types, cultures, kinks, and more. Cultivating sex positivity is super important because it allows us to move through the world and our relationships in a more liberated way that’s free from shame and judgment. We’ve been seeing a rise of non-monogamy and polyamorous relationships over the last few years, which is great because we’re choosing to challenge the status quo and find relationship styles that work for us instead of just following the trend of what society tells us is preferred.
Finally, looking forward, what emerging trends in online dating will have the most significant impact, and how do we balance digitalization and our mental well-being?
It’ll be interesting to see the role that AI will continue to have in the online dating space. There’s been a huge influx of people using AI to support in crafting the most message with rizz, and some even using AI generated photos for their profiles. Flure does have an AI profile named Anna who you can chat with, and has plans to develop a male version soon.
In terms of balancing mental health and the online world I think it’s so important to know that dating burnout does exist and so it’s okay to take a break when you need to so you can reset. I tell my clients that if you’re not getting the results you want, focus on something else and come back when you’re ready and willing to prioritize finding connection – whether that’s for a sneaky link, situationship, fuck buddy, or LTR. And leaning on community is important too, so talk to your friends about what’s going on and seek others who have similar interests, beliefs and relationship styles to you. And if you’re based in NYC please join our upcoming community events.