You may not have heard of the term “dating fatigue,” but if you’re a single or dating woman in the 21st century, I’m sure you’ve felt it. Maybe your New Years’ resolutions have included “find love” for three years in a row, or your thumb is sore from swiping left on Tinder, and maybe you’ve considered staying home, watching Queer Eye and ordering Indian food instead of going on that dinner date because you somehow know it won’t end well — you’re probably exhausted from dating, and I don’t blame you. We feel so much pressure to be in a relationship, because that’s what our society deems “success” in dating. So when we’re single, or just not having any great dating experiences that lead us to an immediate relationship, it’s easy to feel unsuccessful, and, worse — hopeless.
But the goal of dating does not always have to be to find a relationship, and even if it is, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) have a timeline or expectation to find one. If you do, it’s probably causing you to feel dating fatigue. While annoyances with your dating life are normal, dating fatigue will wear you down so much that you stop enjoying dating, and maybe, stop dating altogether. Here are three signs that you’re suffering from severe dating fatigue, and how to fix it.
1. You’ve become cynical and pessimistic
If bad dating experiences have completely changed or tainted your thoughts on the entire gender or species… that’s dating fatigue. If you automatically assume the date is going to tank before you even go on it, that’s dating fatigue. And if you feel like you’re going to have to settle for less than what you want in a life partner because of the experiences you’ve had… you guessed it — that’s dating fatigue. Rather than being open to new experiences or optimistic about each date, you automatically expect, and therefore seek out, the bad. If anything even subtly negative happens, you write off your date as a failure and start looking forward to the end of your night where Queer Eye and leftover Indian food are waiting.
2. You’re lazy with your dating
Do you go to the exact same restaurant or bar for every date or always get a cup of coffee instead of switching it up? Does the thought of thinking up something creative or new to do for a date completely exhaust you? Or perhaps, you go on way more first dates than second or third, because you don’t feel like bothering with making new plans, since it’s probably not worth it in the end (see point #1: cynicism!). You also might be all swipe and no talk, swiping left and right on your dating app(s), but never caring to turn a swipe into an actual conversation, or follow through to an actual date.
3. Your date might perceive you as uninterested or impolite
Do you yawn a lot out of boredom, or ask only half-assed questions and only semi-attempt to form connections? Boredom is the number one sign of dating fatigue, and you might not always realize you feel it, because it becomes so normal. So think about how interested or distant you might be coming off, and ask yourself if you’re really interested in your date or not. If you’re not interested, you’re likely to lose all your typical polite etiquette that you learned growing up — you don’t ask questions, your disinterest is obvious, and you’re quick to cut off the date early. But here’s the tough-love news flash: when you’re experiencing dating fatigue, your boredom is not always your date’s fault. They might have climbed Mount Everest or found the cure to cancer, and you still would’ve been uninterested and unfazed.
So what’s a girl to do!?
Don’t fear if you’re suffering from dreaded dating fatigue — your soulmate’s still out there. But whether you’re looking for one or not, (say it with me now) dating should be fun. After all, the point of dating is not to run around, frantically searching for a perfect match while your biological clock is loudly ticking in your ear. The point of dating is to meet new people, have some fun laughs (even if it’s with your girlfriends afterwards, instead of with your date), and find out what you like and dislike. Here’s what you can do to get back to happy dating instead of that damn dating fatigue:
Take a break!
You have to majorly reset your mind and spirit so that you’ll actually feel excited to get back out in the dating world. Give yourself a limit for time off, like two weeks, a month, or even a few months (depending on what you need) and no exceptions — that cute guy on Bumble who likes cheesecake and To Kill a Mockingbird can wait until your break’s over. And on the other hand, once your break is over, actually get yourself out there again. Don’t let your break become permanent.
Prioritize your passions — yes, even on dates.
I know we have this tale-as-old-as-time idea that dating (especially first dates) has to be a quick drink (in case they’re a serial killer or psychopath, so you can get away quickly), or a dinner (classy), and maybe a movie (in case the conversation is awkward, and you can test out if they’re a popcorn-stealer or not). But with dates that match your passions more than the same old boring go-to, you’ll be more likely to actually have fun and benefit from the experience, no matter if the date leads to a second or third.
Can you make your hobbies more social (like rock climbing, a cooking class, or book club)? Making your passions social gives yourself an opportunity to meet people that share a similar passion. Offer one of these experiences you love as a date alternative to meeting for a drink or a boring dinner (Bonus: you’ll seem so exciting and interesting to your date, they may just want to schedule the second date before even going on the first!).
Stop playing games, already!
Playing hard to get, not acting too interested, not texting first, playing it cool — no wonder you’re fatigued!! That’s just exhausting. Don’t overthink dating. If you want to text your date, do it. If you’re not interested, don’t ghost them, just let them know you enjoyed getting to know them but did not feel a spark. It might seem weird to be so forward, but your date and your wellbeing will thank you for being so honest and mature instead of playing the same dating games that middle schoolers play.
Don’t force yourself to do anything (sometimes).
Sure, it’s important to get yourself out there, even when sitting on our couch alone, not being judged for our Netflix history or how big our wine pour was sounds much more enticing. Sometimes it takes a little kick to get ourselves out there, since dating can be intimidating. But when you had an absolutely exhausting day at work and you’re meeting your date across town? It’s absolutely okay to ask your date to change locations closer to your home, or even to rain check for the coming weekend. There are some days that, no matter what, we’re just not going to enjoy a date. The key to avoiding dating fatigue is being able to tell these days from the days we’re just feeling nervous, insecure, or intimidated, and need to pry ourselves off the couch. Get to know the difference, get yourself out there, but take a rain check when needed.
Don’t just appreciate the good experiences — appreciate the bad ones, too.
It’s easy when you come home from a date with someone who made sexist comments, mocked Taylor Swift fans (guilty), or — gasp! — put ketchup on their pasta, to slump into your bed with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, feeling depressed that there are just no normal and good people out there. But instead of letting bad dates make you feel hopeless, appreciate the experience. Maybe it gave you a good story to tell your friends (or get published in Cosmopolitan’s “Worst Dates Ever”), or maybe it was just plain bad. But no matter how bad, it taught you something. It taught you what you like and dislike, and it also gave you practice.
The more you go on a first date, the better you’ll get at them. So no matter how bad of a date you had, it means that when you have a good one — when they respect you and your values, when they tell you they admire Taylor Swift’s career, when they eat marinara on their spaghetti like a normal person, and love cheesecake and To Kill a Mockingbird as much as you do, you will not only appreciate this date even more, but you might even be better at it, too.