Dating in 2021 isn’t easy with the constant swiping, failed talking stages, and ghosting—it’s hard to find any hope that you may find someone someday. Trust me, I get it. As someone who is now back on the dating apps and trying to find a real relationship, it can get frustrating when you go on yet another bad date or the person you were talking to suddenly leaves you on read. I always tell my friends that I’ve been on so many bad dates, I could write an entire novel about it.
Being stuck in a “dating rut” is definitely not fun. If you also are starting to feel like you’ve been on too many countless first dates that don’t go anywhere, you’re not alone. Although it may feel like it right now, being stuck in a dating rut won’t last forever. Keep scrolling for some of the few signs that you may be in the dreaded dating rut and some useful tips to help you when you start to feel hopeless.
Signs you might be in a dating rut
1. You’re dealing with a lack of confidence
One of the first signs that you might be in a dating rut is that you start to feel hopeless about dating. You might begin to think that you’re the reason you’re not getting any dates or meeting anyone special. Once you lose confidence in yourself, it’s harder to even think there is any point in dating at all. This could lead you to be less selective when it comes to choosing who you’re going on a date with, which could be why you keep going on so many first dates with people who just aren’t worth your time.
2. You’re overly discouraged by rejection
Of course, rejection never feels good, but if you’re getting discouraged to the point that it’s seriously affecting your self-esteem instead of knowing that you won’t be compatible with every person you go on a date with? You might be dealing with dating fatigue. Rejection is hurtful (especially when it’s in the form of ghosting) and it can cause some people to feel negative about both dating and themselves. Therefore, you may be tempted to give up on dating in general because you don’t want to have to go through getting rejected again.
3. You avoid going on dates and meeting other people
On the flip side, you could also feel “stuck” in a dating rut if you’re avoiding dating altogether. Since I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, I’ve done so much healing and gotten super self-reliant. It made me shy away from dating because I didn’t want to get hurt again. I started to avoid any situation where I could possibly meet someone and turned down dates. I kept saying, “What’s the point? All men are the same anyway!” But being afraid of dating isn’t any better than going on hundreds of failed first dates.
What’s the solution to escape a dating rut?
1. Reframe rejection
So you’ve been on a couple of dates and the two of you hit it off. But then, out of the blue, they stop responding to your texts. Sound familiar? Of course it feels hurtful, but you can reframe any kind of rejection in a way that won’t hurt your confidence or self-worth. For example, if someone ghosts me or tells me they’re not interested, I may feel a little upset, but then I tell myself that they just weren’t the person for me. Just because one person doesn’t like you doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you; they just weren’t meant for you. Plus, if someone ghosts you or stops responding, would you really want someone like that in your life? It may take a while for you to meet the right person, but for every rejection you go through (or every frog you have to kiss), you’re one frog closer.
2. Take a mini break from dating
Sometimes, when you find that things aren’t working, taking a step back (temporarily) can help, especially when your dating rut is causing dating burnout. “Taking a break from dating to focus on other facets of your life can be helpful and rewarding,” suggested Ashera DeRosa, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist. “Going on dates can feel like a lot of pressure. Finding a hobby or group activity can widen the pool of potential matches.” Try out something you’ve always wanted to do or focus on doing more of the things that make you happy. You can also use the break to think about what you’re actually looking for in a potential partner. That way, when you’re ready to go on another date, you know the type of person that you want in your life.
3. Validate yourself
Without realizing it, many people are looking for external validation from others, which is what makes dating so depressing. Swiping right for external validation isn’t going to make you feel better about yourself in the long run. We have to learn to start looking inward for validation. One way that I try to validate myself is by saying things that I wish I could hear from other people. For example, if I’m hoping that someone could reassure me that I am beautiful, I will repeat the affirmation “I am beautiful” to myself. Affirmations can be a little weird and uncomfortable at first, but as you keep repeating something to yourself, you’ll start to believe it more and more. Validating yourself will actually make you feel more confident—without the approval of anyone else.
4. Reflect and adjust your expectations
As an avid reader of romance novels and a lover of all rom-com movies, I’ve always been a hopeless romantic who had unrealistic expectations for a partner. Yes, we’d all love to be in a relationship with Harry Styles, but it isn’t necessarily realistic. “We may be dating because we are looking to find a lifelong partner, but when we go on every date with the hope that they might be ‘The One,’ it’s likely we will feel disappointment on a regular basis,” explained Janet Park, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Healing Phoenix Therapy. PSA: Statistically speaking, not everyone you go on a first date with is going to be “The One,” and that’s OK. We have to go on dates, not with the expectation of finding the “perfect” lifelong partner but instead with the goal of getting to know someone new. Rather than having high expectations, go into every date with the purpose of getting to know a new person.
5. Get to know yourself better
Dating is a valuable process where we have the opportunity to not only learn more about someone else but also about ourselves. “Through the dating process, you have the opportunity to further identify what works or doesn’t work for you in a relationship,” Park said. “It often takes going through an experience with someone else to recognize your needs, boundaries, and deal breakers in a partner.” If you notice a quality that you don’t like in a person or if they didn’t respect your boundaries, then you have more insight on your next date or your next relationship. Every first date or situationship is successful because it gives you an idea of what will make you happy, even if your date doesn’t.
6. Ask to be set up by a family member or friend
Dating apps can be exhausting, and maybe your dating rut is more just Tinder fatigue. If you’re tired of swiping or meeting people through a screen, ask for some help from a family or friend. Your loved ones know you better than even a detailed dating profile, and they might have someone in mind that they think would be perfect for you. Set-ups can be scary, but they could also be a great way to meet new people, even if it doesn’t work out.