Caitlin Cantor LCSW, CST

Modern Sex

Dating Burnout in the Fast-Paced Times of Tinder

Avoid dating burnout and make the most out of dating apps.

Posted Feb 13, 2016

Dating apps are great if you’re looking to date around. There are no profiles to sift through or questions to answer, and you get flooded with endless matches. With apps like Tinder, you can meet one person and move on to the next faster than I can say, “Swipe right!”

However, if you’re using dating apps in hopes of finding a lasting relationship, the never-ending flow of new matches and the speed at which you can connect with them can be overwhelming. If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing dating burnout.

AFPics/Shutterstock
Source: AFPics/Shutterstock

When you have dating burnout, you become less emotionally available. You go on countless dates, but you don’t feel much for any of them. You wonder if it’s the people you’re meeting, or if you’re no longer capable of having feelings at all. Your self-worth is shaky, and you feel hopeless, sad, and helpless. Dating feels more like a chore than an exciting opportunity. But, you continue going on dates because dating burnout is better than the pain you imagine if you stopped trying.

Dating apps can make it too easy to escape the discomfort of uncertainty, an inevitable component of dating. When you’re uncertain of how you feel, or of how the other person feels about you, you can just return to the app to find new matches. In that moment, it seems easier to set up new dates than to deal with all the unanswered questions you have. But, briefly dating one person after another is draining when you’re looking for a lasting relationship. This pattern can quickly lead to dating burnout.

Swiping through thousands of photos can begin to dehumanize people over time. People stop treating each other as feeling, worthy people, deserving of consideration and kindness. Dates cancel at the last minute, don’t show up, or even drop off the face of the planet.  Over time, the pain of the disappointments and rejections can leave people feeling burned out.

If you’re experiencing dating burnout, you’re not alone. However, you don’t have to give up on dating apps. They can be a useful tool for finding a lasting relationship, but you must be prepared for the challenges they bring.

In the list below, I offer skills you can practice to avoid dating burnout and have a more enjoyable experience using dating apps: 

1. Think short-term not long term. You can’t know if you want to spend the rest of your life with someone after only a few dates. No matter how much you think about it, you won’t come to a conclusion. The thinking and worrying will only cause you stress, which prevents you from experiencing positive emotions. Instead of thinking long term, think about whether you want to date the person for the next month or two. This slight shift in thought alleviates a lot of stress, so you can open yourself up to feeling connection and maybe even love.

2. Make friends with uncertainty. The uncertainty of not knowing whether you want a long-term relationship with your date is uncomfortable. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should move on. Your instinct may be to see who else is out there. However, in order to allow your relationship to develop, you must sit with your uncertainty. Try getting to know your discomfort. Notice the way it feels in your body. Invite the uncomfortable sensations in, rather than trying to avoid them. Doing so will help you build tolerance for uncertainty, allowing your potential new relationship time to progress naturally.

3. Break the three-date rule. In today’s dating world, there is the unwritten “three-date rule”. This is an unrealistic (and unfair) expectation that after three dates you should decide whether you want a future with someone. After three dates, you may know whether you want a fourth date, but that’s all you can expect to know.

4. Slow Down. If you’re scared of being alone, you may try to rush into a relationship. Relationships have their own speed; they can’t be rushed. If you’re on a mission to find someone, you’ll either end things before they had a chance to develop, or push people away with the pressure you put on the potential relationship. Ultimately, your attempts to control things will lead you to what you fear: being alone. Instead, learn to manage anxiety so you can slow down; one way to do so is to develop a meditation practice.

5. Practice Being Present. Be present and curious about your date’s personality, character, and interests, so you can see whether you want to get to know the person better. Otherwise, you may allow past experiences to influence your perception of a new date.

If you’re feeling burnt out, don’t give up! Rather than jumping on the dating app boat, and being sailed away into mindless dating, practice these tips. It takes time to develop these skills, so be patient and gentle with yourself. We are all works in progress, and you are well on your way!

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