When my friend, Hailey, declared, “Dating sucks”, there was very little any of us could say in defense of the swipe culture in dating apps. She’d been stood up by her match that evening. The dates earlier that week, too, had been a failure. Most of my friends are single, and the common refrains I hear among them are, “Online dating is so awful, I’m going to adopt a cat”, or “Online dating doesn’t work for me, am I a freak?”
While I thought that it was just an unhappy coincidence that all my friends were having problems with online dating, I gradually realized that most of them were exhibiting dating burnout signs. I tried to cheer them up by saying it was just one of the bad things about online dating. But it was indeed sad to realize that a meaningful connection was evading single people who were actively looking for it.
5 Signs You May Be Experiencing Dating Burnout
For a very long time, I thought that the reason my friends were experiencing online dating burnout signs was that all of us were millennials and our parents had begun to round up on us to give them grandchildren. Research on relationship issues faced by millennials and Gen Z says that these generations are twice as likely as Gen X and Boomers to feel pressure to find a partner. However, Hailey placed the blame entirely on the “nasty apps that make you feel like you’re being paraded to guys on dating sites for likes”, in response to my inquiry about why online dating sucks.
Signs of dating fatigue may not always come in the form of proclamations, such as “Online dating is awful; it’s like I’ve got to march to the guillotine for a right swipe every time” or “Online dating is a waste of time; I can do so many things in the time I spend at this swipe fest.” You have to look for the following silent, awful feeling that only you can recognize within yourself:
1. You feel hopeless even when you get swiped right
You keep getting swiped right and have a few dates lined up, yet you feel cynical that it won’t amount to anything. Or you can’t stop swiping and chatting with people, and yet you’re struggling to find a romantic partner. The people you match with either end up ghosting you or don’t seem to want a romantic connection. It’s only natural to feel that modern dating sucks
- Maya, a content creator from Boston, told us, “Online dating is so awful. There are so many guys I meet online on different apps, but they’re the same people or the same kind of people. It’s like living in perpetual deja vu.” It could feel like you have run out of people to meet. Most people you met online seem to have similar bios and pictures; you have trouble or lack interest in getting to know them better
- You feel hopeless to the point that you stop putting effort into it. You don’t feel anything when someone compliments you or tries to have a meaningful conversation with you
- You’re perpetually disappointed and irritants like online dating misleading photos don’t surprise you anymore. Instead, it feels like you were expecting this
2. You are not prioritizing yourself
Because you think time is running out for you or because you feel out of place in a world where hookup culture is slowly becoming the norm, you make certain unhealthy compromises. These compromises can range from pretending to be someone you’re not to going out on a date with someone you are not comfortable with
- You are blindly following suggestions you find online to get more swipes, without giving any thought to what you want in a relationship
- You’re ignoring your gut feeling and doing things or going to places you are not comfortable with
- You are justifying these compromises with thoughts like, “I’m not getting any younger” or “You don’t get everything in life. Maybe this is my destiny”
3. Dating fatigue is impacting your mental health
Is online dating bad for mental health? Looking for a potential partner online can be exhausting in the long term if you’re looking for romance and a meaningful relationship. Research suggests that 78% of people experience emotional fatigue due to online dating. Research has also found that prolonged screen time can impact psychological well-being. This highlights the impact of prolonged screen time due to constant swiping.
- You observe signs of social anxiety in yourself. You have begun to get overwhelmed easily. You have trouble sleeping and are constantly thinking about your dating status
- Dating fatigue can also mimic signs of clinical depression. You feel constantly exhausted and avoid meeting more people. You have low confidence and indulge in negative self-talk
- You start indulging in substance abuse as a form of temporary relief
4. You are not happy with yourself
A major reason why online dating is awful is that you begin to have feelings of inadequacy. As a result, you may start comparing yourself to other people. Or start a new diet regimen or exercise routine that you didn’t need but is rumored to give you the butt or waistline that you’ve seen everyone else with.
- You’ve developed low self-esteem. You are highly conscious of your physical appearance and go to great lengths to hide anything that you feel doesn’t meet the day’s beauty standards. This feeling is heightened when some of the worst dating sites like Luxy and Beautiful People market themselves vainly for a very specific section of people, not realizing how superficial their standards are
- You dress and style according to what’s been marketed instead of going for something you like and are comfortable with
- You’ve developed FOMO about finding a partner. Due to this, you start overcompensating and going for people you don’t like or you decide not to contact someone because you think they are out of your league. Due to these cumulative experiences, you may find yourself saying, “Online dating stinks.”
5. Biggest dating burnout sign: You feel like you’re trapped in a cycle
Dating should be fun, but when it starts to feel like a job, it loses its charm. You don’t feel excited anymore, and it starts to feel like a chore.
- You can rarely remember who you met on what day and what you did with them. You look just for factors that you can check off your mental list instead of looking for a real connection
- If you’ve got multiple dates lined up, it begins to feel like a work day where you’re braving through multiple meetings. If your goal is to meet all these people and filter out the most desirable instead of just enjoying yourself, then you, my friend, are not dating, you’re stuck in a rat race
- A part of you wants to avoid these dates. You feel a sense of relief when a date is canceled. You rarely put any effort into getting ready for the date. Almost all of them are in the same coffee shop, and you can recall the entire menu by now
7 Reasons Why Modern Dating Sucks And How To Cope
Hailey feels that the main reason she feels that online dating is terrible is that she is a millennial looking for good guys instead of just good sex. She says, “Millennials are a generation stuck in the times of Disney love stories, and the reality of casual dating and open relationships doesn’t go well with that idea.” I disagree. Dating apps have changed the future of dating. But if you’re looking for an easy way to be romantic, the digital sphere may not be the best place to look for it.
Sure, modern dating comes with its share of issues but if you approach the experience with awareness and the right coping tools, you can still make the most of it. To that end, let’s look at the problems with online dating and how you can deal with them:
1. It drains you emotionally
If you’ve been looking for a meaningful connection for a long time on dating apps or if you have been through unpleasant experiences such as catfishing, ghosting, or zombeing, online dating can feel like a high-effort low-reward job. Doing this consistently for a very long time can drain you emotionally, leaving you convinced that dating sucks.
To cope with this, you need to change your dating game. People may say bad things about dating apps, but you should always look at an experience from all angles before making up your mind about it. For instance, if you compare Hinge vs Bumble vs Tinder, you will notice that none of these apps proclaim that they promote casual relationships exclusively. But still, these apps are full of people who may not be the right fit for you (if you’re looking for something long-term).
Besides, dating today sucks mostly because everyone in the dating game treats it like a mechanical activity. You need to focus on quality over quantity so you can catch a break.
- Take a break from dating. Focus on yourself. Go on a trip and live mindfully. Find a routine and stick with it. Develop healthy eating and sleeping habits. A healthy lifestyle improves your mental health, which can help you focus on finding the right partner
- Reduce your screen time on dating apps. Forming healthy relationships takes time. You can do that only when you have time to reflect. Also, decision fatigue can get overwhelming when you’re dealing with too many options all the time
- Pick people carefully. Talk with them online; if they do not pass the vibe check, let go of them and concentrate on those with whom you feel a connection. A study recommends having a video chat before you meet with a potential date, as it helps determine if the person is right for you and makes the actual date a better experience
Related Reading: 13 Strong Signs Of Chemistry On A First Date
2. Online dating burnout due to additional financial stress
Finding love is not just hard work but it can also be expensive. Think of all the coffees and meals you’ve ever had with people you’ve never met again. Add to it the gas money, parking, and cover charge, and it could build up to a decent amount. It can make one cynical about the capitalistic avenues of modern dating, especially if one person is expected to pay for all of it, as is expected in many cultures as a chivalrous gesture from men.
- It’s not a bad idea to go to a park, a garden, or any place that doesn’t charge for entry. Pack your own meals. Assign a course or dish among yourself. This gives both of you an idea of what the other person likes and how good they are at these things. Additionally, it makes the whole date a lot more personal as you put effort into it
- Do not go to expensive restaurants or bars for the first date. Instead, look for cute and fun first-date ideas
- If you live some distance from each other, you can meet at a place that is convenient for both of you. If they suggest an expensive place, you can suggest a more affordable option. Do not be embarrassed about suggesting something homely and low-key
- Many of my male friends think that they’d come across as cheapskates if they mentioned going Dutch. If a person doesn’t want to go out with you because they don’t want to pay for their meals, then I’d say good riddance. You can’t buy love with money
3. Rejection hits harder
Robin, a student from Los Angeles, told us “Online dating doesn’t work for me because I think too much. You need to have a mind of steel to deal with all the idiots who talk to you as if you’re the person of their dreams but sneak out of the bathroom window after having a look at you. I’d cry for days afterward.”
Anyone who has been through the motions of online dating will be aware of phenomena such as ghosting and caspering. Since it’s easy to connect and easier to disconnect on social media and/or dating apps, rejection may be frequent and more brutal. It can lead to a feeling of not being good enough, or being replaceable/disposable.
To cope with the feeling of rejection, work on your self-esteem and practice intentional dating if you’re looking for a long-term relationship.
- Think about what you want in a partner instead of what feels safe to you or ‘right’ based on other couples’ relationship dynamics. Gather an understanding of what you like and dislike. Recognize online dating red flags and deal-breakers. Be clear about this in your profile
- Don’t feel guilty about saying no to anyone who doesn’t fit into your plans or align with your idea of a partner
- Some of the worst dating sites, like Hot or Not, just focus on rating people. Therefore, it’s important to be on real dating apps like Tinder or Bumble or Hinge that don’t objectify people. Read about how the dating site markets itself. Do they focus on finding a romantic partner or the right sugar daddy for you
- Prioritize people who appear genuinely interested. You may be awed by a few who just want something casual. But if you’re looking for something long-term, these casual flings are just going to distract
4. It’s difficult to create boundaries
Since social media has become an integral part of an average person’s life, it can become a little difficult to separate the real world from the virtual. It must also be noted that mobile phones and social apps are designed to be addictive in nature. This can amplify disillusionment and the feeling of disappointment in one’s life. In such a situation, it’s easy to become hyper-dependent on online validation.
The need for external validation is directly tied up to low self-esteem. To build your sense of self, you need to sever the external validation from social media by creating boundaries.
- Online dating is terrible sometimes, especially if you devote a lot of your time to it. Limit screen time on dating apps. Do not reply to DMs as soon as you get one. Highlight to the person you’re talking to that you can reply to them only at a certain time. Also, limit the people you’re talking to at a certain time
- People ask for all sorts of information in DMs. Never give away your residential or work location. Never share a picture of anyone else from your family or friends on dating apps. And though you may be tempted, avoid sending nudes, even if they share their own. You never know how a person might use them
- Be clear about your deal-breakers. If you find any red-flag behavior in them, pull the plug. They may try to provoke you or pull you into another conversation by making excuses. When that happens, remember these wise words by Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Trust your gut instinct above all else.
5. You may develop imposter syndrome
Research suggests that women are more susceptible to imposter syndrome as compared to men due to unrealistic expectations at work and in popular media. The feeling that you are pretending to be someone you are not may increase when you connect with someone online. Since it’s easier to shed one’s persona and pretend to be someone cooler or more desirable, one may say or do things that feel disingenuous. This may give a feeling of exhilaration for some time, but it may also lead to guilt and a fear of being found out.
To cope with imposter syndrome, you should try to accept yourself the way you are,
- Jeremy, a lawyer from Wisconsin, confessed, “I feel dating a beautiful woman is harder than it sounds. I mean, I know I don’t look hot. Do dating sites work for guys like me who look prematurely old? Why would any girl fall for me? If a girl agrees to go out with me, I can’t help but wonder if she is interested in me or my money.” When dealing with such dilemmas, the key is to remember that no one is perfect, however perfect they try to appear. Learn to accept your imperfections. This is what makes you, you. The more you resist it, the harder it gets to make peace with yourself
- Research suggests people with low self-esteem are more likely to experience imposter syndrome. This makes online dating bad for the mental health of people who need external validation. Try mindfulness and meditation. If possible, seek professional help. Should you need it, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology panel are here for you
- Lean on your family and friends for support. Take care of other relationships in your life. Do not ignore them whenever your love life takes off
Related Reading: 13 Major Disadvantages Of Online Dating
6. You feel lonely despite having a calendar full of dates
Another issue with modern dating is that despite having a calendar full of dates and an inbox full of DMs, you wonder, “Do dating apps really work”? Because you feel lonely all the time. A major reason for this lack of genuine connection is the conflict in expectations. Not everyone is looking for commitment, but they may not clarify their intentions early on or may even be honest about their intentions.
Online dating stinks because we all know at least one friend who has been catfished, ghosted, or stalked by someone they connected with on a dating app. When you’re surrounded by such prospects, you are bound to feel lonely. To cope with the feeling of loneliness, you should seek an emotional connection.
- Don’t let go of the oldie-but-goodie methods of meeting people through your friends. Try to meet people not just on the apps but out in the real world as well. There’s something about striking up a conversation with a stranger in a pub
- Try finding meaningful pursuits such as joining local conventions or clubs or volunteering for charitable activities to not feel lonely when you’re single. It allows you to connect with people from all phases of life. And you don’t just connect with others, but with yourself as well
- Practice self-care. Self-care is widely misunderstood in today’s times and is often misunderstood as a shopping spree for scented candles and Korean masks. Focus on caring for what’s inside. Practice breathing exercises, do yoga, take long walks without headphones, and reflect on your life
7. Why online dating sucks? — It stops being fun gradually
Ted, a waiter from New York, told us, “It’s fun only till you are a certain age and don’t want anything more than a good night. But soon you’re 30 and everyone around you is getting married, and you’re still going through the same cycle every day. You swipe, you flirt, and you have sex. But even that stops feeling good once you’ve met enough people. You realize you’ve changed, and the definition of fun has changed before you did.”
People change, and as their priorities change, they may find themselves getting tired of the things they enjoyed earlier. Some of the problems with dating sites include the monotony of chatting over DMs. To make dating fun again, you need to add some new elements. Make it more meaningful.
- Select a place where you can talk; avoid anything too crowded or noisy. Ask insightful questions. Listen patiently. Gain information about them
- Don’t go to the same coffee shop again and again. Explore other avenues. Go to a Victorian flea market or a Renaissance fair. If nothing else, you’ll gather some new experiences
- Take sex out of the mix for the first few dates. Develop a connection first. Sexual compatibility is important but you need to know if you can connect on an emotional level first
- It’s important to understand how dating apps are changing society. While dating apps have extended the dating world beyond borders, they have also introduced dating burnout
- If you’re experiencing hopelessness, exhaustion, decision fatigue, and relief whenever a date is canceled, then you may be dealing with dating exhaustion
- Try to reduce your dependency to meet new people on dating apps, start dating to find a good fit, and seek support if you feel unhappy
Everyone needs love, but not all of us find it in the same way or through the same methods. If you feel dating today sucks, you can choose to make the aforementioned changes to your life. These changes can help prevent you from wasting your energy on people and relationships that don’t work for you and give you the satisfaction of finding the right person. “Online dating is a waste of time” – this statement is highly subjective. If you use the right approach, you can make the most of the modern dating experience without letting its pitfalls take a toll on you.