We’ve all felt burnout at work—especially in these days of Zoom—but dating burnout is just as real as its corporate sibling. According to Match.com’s chief dating expert Rachel DeAlto, “Dating burnout is not only common but normal.”
I’m firm on the belief that dating should be fun. In all my years of online dating, I’ve always stuck with the same motto that even if it doesn’t work out, at least I’ll get a good story out of it. But what do you do when it stops being fun and starts feeling like a chore? Some signs of burnout include fatigue, loss of interest or motivation, self-doubt, feelings of hopelessness, and a general increase in the negativity surrounding the subject.
As someone who has spent countless nights swiping, these symptoms hit home more than I’d like to admit. We’re told constantly that dating is a numbers game, but is dating while you’re not in the right mindset counterproductive? When you start to see the same people cycling through your list of matches, could it be time to take a break? Let’s face it, dating apps are not going anywhere. So we might as well give in, learn how to use them correctly, and stop blaming all our dating problems on an app that is actually designed to make it easier to meet someone.
DeAlto said dating burnout existed long before online dating, anyway. Burnout can occur “anytime daters are putting in a lot of effort but not seeing the results they want,” she explained. Imagine if you were putting the same amount of time and effort into meeting someone IRL and still getting no results? I have to imagine this would leave you feeling pretty fatigued and frustrated, too.
Whether you’re chatting up prospects at your local bar or coffee shop or swiping from the comfort of your couch at home, use these five expert-backed tips to avoid dating burnout and start getting the results you desire.
1. Be Mindful of Your Time
DeAlto recommended spending 15 to 20 minutes daily on online dating. This already sounds much more manageable than the 10 hours per week reported by Badoo in 2018. No wonder people are feeling burnout, right? There is truly no need to be spending more than an hour of your time per day on online dating. What matters is how you use your time.
Spend those 15 to 20 minutes thoughtfully considering your options and proactively starting conversations instead of mindlessly swiping, waiting for messages to come in, or sending the occasional “hey” or “how’s your week going?” Match’s data reported that 83% of people want someone who is emotionally mature, so up your conversation game and focus on quality over quantity.
2. Take Breaks
If you start to dread opening your apps or “you feel like you are working a second job online dating,” DeAlto said it could be time to take a break. Another sign to hit the pause button is if you aren’t even excited by the prospect of going out with someone new. Again, even if you are dating with the goal to settle down, the journey there should be fun and you should look forward to going out with a new potential partner.
“Do not date unless you are feeling positive about the process,” DeAlto said. “You are likely doing more harm than good if you are burned out and still forcing yourself to get on the apps, message, and go out.”
3. But Don’t Hesitate to Get Back Out There
You took a break, you cleared your head, and now it’s time for you to get back out (or on) there. DeAlto said “a week or two can do wonders” when it comes to refilling your cup and refreshing your mindset around dating. Use your time off the apps to do things that bring you joy, focus on self-care, and remind yourself why you are dating in the first place. Get clear on what you want out of the apps: Is it a long-term partner, a friend with benefits, or just a way to get out and meet new people?
When it comes to getting back on the apps after taking a break, DeAlto reminded us that “the biggest thing is approaching the dating scene with hope.”
4. Know Your Non-Negotiables
DeAlto recommended defining “four personality characteristics that you absolutely need in your person and only dating people that meet [those characteristics].”
I spent years getting frustrated that I wasn’t finding what I wanted on a dating app, and then I realized I had no idea what it was that I wanted. No wonder I was constantly burned out. Once I gained clarity on my must-haves, I was able to give flexibility in other areas, and my swiping experience completely changed. I now know off the bat who to swipe no on, and I take more chances on people who I might have passed over previously.
5. Mix it Up
I strongly suggest using multiple dating apps. Not only does it cast a wider net, but it will also help you avoid that feeling of redundancy. Plus, it gives you an excuse to revamp your profile a bit. Take inventory of your photos and spice things up with a new prompt response.
Don’t stop there, though. Add variety into your dates, too. Do you have a go-to first date drinks spot? Step out of your comfort zone and try a new bar or, better yet, a new activity. Adding in variety will help make dating feel more fun and bring that excitement back to your life.
6. Pay Attention to How You Feel
You attract the energy you put out in the world, so if you are constantly coming to the table (or your phone) with negative energy, you’re not going to match with the best pool of people. “Energy in needs equal energy out,” DeAlto said. “Pay attention to how you feel and don’t push yourself too far.” By tuning into how you feel, you’ll be able to pinpoint the times when you’re not being as intentional or when you might need to take that break.
If you treat dating like a job, it might start to feel like a job. As much as I wish we were, we aren’t living in a romantic comedy, and the phrase “you’ll meet someone when you least expect it” is more fantasy than reality. On the plus side, there are millions of people out there feeling the exact same way you do, and dating apps give you the opportunity to connect with people you might never have met IRL. If you are mindful of your time and intentional about the way you date, you will find yourself having much more fun with the process.