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A relationship therapist picks the No.1 biggest dating mistake Gen Z is making

Annika Mcfarlane | Digitalvision Vectors | Getty Images

Gen Z is struggling to find love amid various dating challenges, and it's largely because dating apps have made them too picky, according to one relationship therapist.

Jeff Guenther, a licensed professional counselor for individuals and couples, goes by the name "Therapy Jeff" on Instagram and TikTok and has racked up millions of followers on both platforms by providing dating insights.

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Guenther told CNBC Make It in an interview that Gen Z has become too selective about their potential partners because dating apps have made it so easy to filter out people for superficial reasons such as height or appearance. Gen Z generally refers to the generation born between 1997 and 2012.

"Sometimes we're being way too picky with our lists, and what we want, and it makes it so that we're not open to people that are a little different," Guenther said. "When we're on dating apps, the way that we can filter people is not conducive to actually finding someone who's a really good match."

He gave the example of people rejecting others on dating apps because of their height, which isn't a very good indicator of whether someone might be a good partner.

"A lot of people are filtering for men that are over 6 feet tall when only 11% of men are over 6 feet tall," he explained. "There's a lot of 'We have our lists, and we stick to them and we don't waver' which means that we're not open to other people that could actually be a really good match for us."

In fact, women block 70% of potential matches compared with 55% for men because they're more likely to not want to date people based on their height or age, according to data from the American dating site The League. It tracked the behavior of 80,000 users on its site across 10 cities in January 2023, as reported by The Economist.

As young people set lofty expectations for their future partners, they're becoming increasingly anxious about whether they'll ever find love.

A quarter of Gen Zers say "not finding love" is one of their greatest worries, according to a recent EduBirdie survey of 2,000 respondents. Twenty-two percent also said finding a life partner was one of their biggest challenges.

"Dating apps have forced us to prioritize things that don't actually matter in relationships," Guenther explained. "I think that it's created this world where it feels like maybe we won't try as hard in relationships because we can always get back on the dating apps and swipe endlessly because it feels like we can swipe endlessly."

"I think it's made it so that a lot of us are commitment-phobic because of that," he added.

Additionally, Gen Z is obsessed with identifying "icks" in potential romantic partners — a social media trend where young people describe the moment they lost attraction to someone over a perceived flaw.

There are over 200 million posts about the "Ick" on TikTok with users describing minor details that turned them off from the kind of emojis a person uses, to what they order off a menu or the kind of clothes that they wear.

The illusion of choice on dating apps means Gen Z is rejecting people over inconsequential details.

"There's this sort of like addictive quality to being on dating apps so even when you're off the dating app, and you're in a relationship that's satisfying, there's a feeling of wanting to get back on and play that lottery again, and it feels like, you maybe, there's always somebody else out there that could be a better match," Guenther said.

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