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Dating Sucks: Identifying Dating Burnout and How to Fix It

Experiencing dating burnout? Here's how to bounce back.

Key points

  • The state of a person’s romantic relationships is closely related to their mental health.
  • Whether or not you experience a connection, dates and meeting new people can be intellectually stimulating and should be fun.
  • Trying something new with someone new can increase your dopamine, excite your body and mind, and break the cycle of same-old dating.

5 Signs You Have Dating Burnout

1. You are losing hope.

Whether it is because you’ve had your heart broken one too many times or because you’ve been on one too many dates where conversation dwindles before the appetizer arrives, it’s easy to start believing that dating sucks. So many people do! “Dating sucks” is a common adage represented in books and movies, and heard in therapists’ offices. If you are one of the many people who has expressed feeling hopeless in the search for a romantic partner, you may have dating burnout.

2. It's affecting your mental health.

All our relationships impact our well-being and mental health. However, romantic relationships are particularly impactful. Intimate, passionate, and committed relationships bring about heightened emotions, romantic and erotic fantasies, and meaningful hope. As a result, the state of a person’s romantic relationships is closely related to their experiences of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-worth, self-esteem, and overall mental health.

3. You aren't prioritizing self-care.

Dating can be time-consuming, especially in our culture in which we believe that the more “work” you put in (or in this case the more dates you go on), the better the result. More dates in a week does not necessarily mean you are more likely to find the right person or relationship—particularly if you are not showing up to those dates as your best self. Dating burnout may mean you are sitting across from romantic partners feeling tired, unable to focus, and without the ability to show your date your authentic self.

4. You are struggling with rejection.

 Depositphotos/brnmanzurova
Source: Depositphotos/brnmanzurova

Modern-day dating, particularly on dating apps, means that people are rejected or are rejecting others a number of times a day as they casually swipe on Hinge or Tinder. The 70 million adults in America that use dating apps have developed a rejection mindset that makes dating feel particularly unpromising and exhausting. Rejection—whether you or your potential partner is saying no to pursuing a relationship, situationship, or another type of nonmonogamous partnership—is an unavoidable part of dating. If you’re already in an unhealthy headspace, getting turned down or ghosted can feel like a reflection of your lack of worth, attractiveness, or ability to make a romantic relationship work. When you’re in a healthy headspace, a rejection is just par for the course in the search for a romantic partner (“thank u next”).

5. You feel like you're going through the motions.

Going on autopilot on a date prevents you from truly learning about the person sitting across from you and ultimately deciding if you are interested in them romantically or not. Autopilot prevents you from bringing the playful, curious, and engaging parts of your personality to the table and conversation. It may feel like a way to conserve your energy and get through dates, but the return on investment for that kind of dating is slim to none.

7 Ways to Bounce Back From Dating Burnout

1. Take a break.

When dating feels like a chore or a drain on your social battery, it is important to carve out time for yourself. Whether that means spending time with people you love or engaging in some sort of physical activity, taking a break can re-nourish the soul and increase energy levels, allowing you to show up to dates refreshed and optimistic.

Depositphotos/GaudiLab
Source: Depositphotos/GaudiLab

2. Be more intentional.

Before committing a huge portion of your time to dating, it is important that you consider a few important questions like “What do I want from dating?” and “What are my nonnegotiables in a relationship (do I want a family, to live in a certain area, practice a religion jointly, etc.)?” Pay attention to how you are feeling internally—what kind of dating has been fun in the past, and, even if the romantic connection isn’t there, how can you make dating an intellectually expansive and pleasurable experience for yourself?

3. Date people you want to date, not just those who want to date you.

Agency prevents burnout. It is important that you are choosing to continue dating people whom you find attractive, intriguing, and sexy. The ego boost from someone expressing their interest in you is short-lived, and continuing to date someone you’re not that into is ultimately unlikely to lead to a meaningful connection.

4. Be disciplined—track the time you spend on the apps.

It is important that you track the amount of time you spend on dating apps. Studies have shown that every additional hour a person spends scrolling on their phone decreases their psychological well-being—increasing anxiety and emotional instability and decreasing self-esteem. While it may seem productive to spend time swiping left or right, doing so is negatively impacting your mental health and ultimately making it more difficult to find a romantic partner.

5. Let go of your timeline to meet “the one.”

Many people consciously or unconsciously subscribe to a dating timeline—meet someone by 25, get engaged by 28, get married by 30, etc. But that kind of timeline is arbitrary and, in fact, detrimental to your dating success. Dating because you really want to be dating is different from dating because of the stress of a self-imposed time crunch. Releasing yourself from this pressure to perform in a given timeframe will be reflected in the decreased anxiety you bring to your dating experiences.

6. Change up your usual dating activities.

 Depositphotos/apid
Source: Depositphotos/apid

Instead of going to a bar or coffee shop on a first date, do something different. Suggest a short hike, a bike ride, or volunteering together. Trying something new with someone new can increase your dopamine levels, excite your body and mind, and break the cycle of same-old, same-old dating. Novelty is a powerful trigger for erotic fantasy so incorporating adventure into dating might be the catalyst you need to feel inspired by the person you’re with and energized internally.

7. Generate insightful conversation.

There are a number of ways you might improve conversation on dates with potential partners. I suggest going on dates with the intention of identifying what makes the person sitting across from you unique as opposed to their “stats” or information about where they grew up, went to college, or what they do for work. Another inspiring way to generate meaningful conversation is these 36 questions by researcher Arthur Aron.

References

Anderson, M., Vogels, E. A., & Turner, E. (2020, October 2). The virtues and downsides of online dating. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/06/the-virtues-and-downsid…

Aron, A., Melinat, E., Aron, E. N., Vallone, R. D., & Bator, R. J. (1997). The experimental generation of interpersonal closeness: A procedure and some preliminary findings. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23(4), 363–377. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167297234003

Kansky, J. (2018). What's love got to do with it?: Romantic relationships and well-being. In E. Diener, S. Oishi, & L. Tay (Eds.), Handbook of well-being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers. DOI:nobascholar.com

Pronk, T. M., & Denissen, J. J. (2019). A rejection mind-set: Choice overload in online dating. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11(3), 388–396. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550619866189

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive Medicine Reports, 12, 271–283. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.10.003

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