Why We Fall for What Feels Almost Too Good To Be True


At Bumble, we live for real connections. Why do we sometimes fall for what feels too good to be true?

Turns out, when your mind races and you’re thinking fast, you feel more elated and creative - even energetic and powerful. When you need to “think fast” in response to mysterious, funny, and seductive texts with someone new, or “when you brainstorm quickly about an idea, these activities can boost energy and mood,” according to Emily Pronin, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. In “Fast Thinking Feels Good” published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Dr. Pronin says that “thinking fast can bring tremendous benefits.” 

Now here’s the tricky part: “It prompts people to pounce rather than ponder, to act rather than react, and to brim with confidence rather than with reticence.”

This is important to understand when the pace of texts and emails ramp up and the rush of being swept off your feet floods your senses. When you’re made to think fast, it elevates risk-taking behavior, often coupled with reduced outcomes.

Even though the high you feel is temporary when you’re thinking at a rapid fire pace, “these little bursts of positive emotion add up,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside. When you feel good, you’re more productive, socially inclusive, and healthier all around. In both genders, the feel-good neurochemical oxytocin stimulates fearlessness, social bonding, comfort, and pleasure. 

Your TGTBT offers new experiences that add novelty to a stale routine. Anticipating each new text raises your expectations for the promise of love and happiness, which, btw, is projected by your own fantasy. Go ahead, take a step back and observe how many stories you tell yourself about this person and their life in the privacy of your own mind. You even have conversations with them - an inner dialogue that runs seemingly all on its own, hashing out decisions, making out, and life plans together. 

When you get more deeply invested, so does your brain. Pronin’s research reveals how “thinking quickly may unleash the brain’s novelty-loving dopamine system, which is involved in sensations of pleasure and reward.” 

When brain chemicals oxytocin and dopamine are dialed up with repeated positive emotional interactions, your bonding and “liking” neurochemicals hijack your system. They can switch off “dislike” instincts and caution circuits. Your brain’s receptors start to feel starved without repeated interactions with that TGTBT, keeping you tethered to your smart phone. 

Studies show that all this happiness has an upside - when it’s real. You’ll be getting stuff done, have closer friendships and support, and feel strong and healthy. Dr. Lyubomirsky explains that “even brief periods of heightened mood can lead to upward spirals.” All this means you need to make sure it’s real before you get invested.

Now that you have a few extra tools in your belt to avoid being catfished, go build your own kingdom.

Our Bumble Gourmet Food Truck, Great Catch, will be in NYC from September 7 to 10th, serving up delish catfish and cool connections. If you’re in New York, stop by and say hi!


Natalie Geld for The BeeHive

LoveAndee Olson