Are You Experiencing Dating Fatigue? Here’s How To Deal
By Wendy Rose Gould
Ever wanted to throw your phone into a river after an unpleasant texting exchange with a potential partner? Or has a string of bad dates ever made you contemplate moving to a farm somewhere and swearing off love forever? You might be dealing with dating fatigue. Simply put, dating fatigue is a burned out emotional state in which you feel disillusioned, unmotivated, and completely over the whole “searching for the one” journey.
“It might feel like no matter what you do, dating leads nowhere,” says relationship psychologist Dr. Cheryl Fraser. She says that a hallmark of dating fatigue is that you have a strong urge to give up on dating altogether, which ultimately sabotages your chances of meeting that special someone (if that’s indeed what you want). Taking a step back is perfectly okay, and perhaps even the healthiest move. At the same time, it’s important not to become embittered by the process. Here’s how to reignite your desire to find love.
Be mindful when you’re believing anxious assumptions
When you have a “bad date” or a “bad chat”—or a few—it might be easy to conclude you’ll just never find your person, which can lead to burn out. But sometimes it’s not the experience itself that’s the root of the issue, but rather what we make of the experience.
“Pay attention to the truths and not the judgments of the truths,” says Lia Love Avellino, psychotherapist and co-founder of group therapy business Spoke. “Thoughts like ‘I’ll always be alone’ or ‘my lot in life is to struggle’ are more rooted in the past, older wounds, and insecurities rather than in present facts.”
Instead of leaning into limiting beliefs, try to focus on the specific situation that brought about those negative thoughts. From there, you can pinpoint the root of what you’re struggling with, which might be something like “I did not feel engaged” or “I wasn’t attracted” or “We have different worldviews.” Narrowing down the actual situation requires much less energy and rumination from you, which can lead to a more positive outlook and can limit dating fatigue. So if you find yourself in a negative thought spiral, ask yourself if your thoughts are based on reality or if the issue is simply situational.
When it comes to something as emotionally involved as dating, setting boundaries is especially important. “Taking a break when you recognize the signs of dating fatigue is helpful because it allows you time to breathe, to process your experience, and to reset before re-engaging,” says relationship coach Dr. Susan Trotter
Trotter recommends creating a 10-point scale so you can easily assess signs of dating fatigue, with one being no fatigue, and 10 being total burnout. Anything above a five might warrant a break from being active. You can start with a brief break for a few days and then reassess. If you feel better—optimistic, positive, excited—then resume activity. If not, then extend the break for as long as you need until you start to feel better (or as long as you feel like it!).
You can also create boundaries around how long you spend swiping. Maybe it’s 20 minutes per day, or avoiding usage during certain parts of the week. Bumble’s Snooze Mode makes this easy by allowing you to pause notifications for 24 hours, 72 hours, a week, or indefinitely.
Identify what’s zapping your energy
Often when we feel overwhelmed, we might feel like a major upheaval is in order, such as pulling the plug on dating. A big pivot isn’t always the best course of action, though. Rather, it’s important to get clear on the specific aspects of dating that might be contributing to energy depletion.
For example, ask yourself if the amount of time you spend swiping drains you, or if it’s the prep you put into getting ready for the date that feels unfulfilling. Perhaps it’s the predictability of the types of dates you’re going on (dinner, drinks, repeat), or the potential partners you’re engaging with.
Be clear about what part of dating is unfulfilling, then create a plan to address it. Maybe that means switching up your typical date night routine, being more selective (or less selective!) about who you’re connecting with, or limiting how much time you’re spending on dating apps. If you still feel drained, take a break from dating and jump back in when you’re feeling more excited about it again.
Meditate on your “why?”
Dating often causes us to dwell on the question, “Am I desirable?” But rather than focusing on pleasing others, try turning that phrase around and instead ask yourself what it is you desire.
Being aware of what you want from dating and a potential partner allows you to feel more empowered in the process. “The more aware you are of what intrinsically motivates you, rather than following a list of external motivators, the more energized you will feel in the process,” says Avellino.
Though you may be dating to find your life partner(s), there are often additional motivators you may not have considered. Are you dating for new romantic experiences? To meet people who inspire you? To learn about what makes you feel safe? To experiment with your sexuality? Exploring these alternative goals can allow you to shift how you experience the path toward ultimately finding the connections that you’re looking for.
Try not to take rejection too personally
Dating requires us to put ourselves out there, which can result in a hurt ego when feelings or shown interest are unmet. When this happens, try not to take it so personally. “I know, this is really hard to do,” says Dr. Fraser. “After all, it sure feels personal when someone responds to your picture or profile, converses with you online, even meets you in person and then says ‘nope.’ But really, truly, it is about them.”
Only you can decide if you’re going to let an experience crush you or make you give up on something that’s deeply important to you, though. When you develop an ability to shake off these dating experiences, you’ll feel more confident and in control. Maybe that means reminding yourself it was a singular situation versus a “you” issue, or taking some time to laugh or vent about the date with friends before moving on.
The bottom line is that finding someone you connect with isn’t always easy, building a deep relationship can be difficult, and sustaining that bond takes lots of work. Remember, though, that anything worth having takes effort and time, so give yourself space and lots of grace as you navigate these waters.