Dating apps have made it easier to find potential partners than ever before. Sure, we love to gripe about their negatives (I write for Tinder and I still do it!). But these services are crucial to how we connect with each other. In 2018, one in five people — more than through friends, family, or at a bar — found their most recent first date online.
But when we’re averaging 10 hours a week on these apps and seeing a few people simultaneously, dating can start to feel like a chore. Burnout is a giant wrench thrown into our plans to well, even make plans.
So how can we bounce back? Alicia Ostarello went on 50 first dates — one in each state — and filmed the entire thing. I knew that if anyone was a pro at navigating dating burnout, it would have to be her.
Taking A Break
“Sometimes I leaned in harder, spending more time on apps and dates,” Ostarello tells me. “Other times, I allowed myself to take a break, even though not putting myself out there felt counterintuitive.”
Sex educator and researcher Christina Tesero advises us to question our motivations when we’re pushing ourselves to date. Sometimes, we fill up on someone else to avoid the fact that we don’t feel full on our own. If that’s the case, it’s important to take intentional steps toward self-love.
“Dating burnout, for me, means that I need a rest from vulnerable or intense relational interactions, and to get kinda … protective of myself,” Tesero says.
Of course, taking a break isn’t the only way to deal with burnout. Lily Womble, a matchmaker turned dating coach and the founder of Date Brazen, sees burnout as an opportunity to set new boundaries for yourself. If you’re using a bunch of apps simultaneously, try eliminating all but one so that you’re more present on it. She also recommends setting a timer for 10 minutes, then taking a little time, even if it’s a couple minutes, off. This can help you avoid getting overwhelmed and be extra engaged during those 10 minutes.
“[When you feel] dating burnout is also a time to experiment with being your most authentic, weird self,” Womble says. “So often we’re trying to present what we think people want to see, and this attracts lackluster matches and dates. I’ve seen again and again that when you make an effort to be your 100-percent authentic self, your efforts will lead to better matches and better dates overall.”
In the end, dating burnout might just require a mindset shift. We get so focused on finding the “perfect” partner that we end up disappointed. Sometimes, we act impulsively. And we might even apply more pressure on our potential partners than we intend. When that happens, sex writer and educator Suz Ellis reccomends taking a step back, although still continuing to date.
“When I start to feel dating burnout, it’s usually because I’ve become too invested in my own dating life,” she says. “The pursuit can get exhausting when you’re obsessing over it 24/7. Try to spend more time [on] your hobbies and [with] friends and family to balance out your time. This helps me approach dating with a less intense outlook and allows me to explore without as much pressure.”
Whoever we are as individuals and wherever we are in the dating process, we can customize our strategy to suit our needs. If we actively work to re-energize ourselves, dating doesn’t have to deplete us, even when love is taking a while to show up.