The other night I opened Instagram to tap through some stories before bed. One of my friends popped up, ranting to her close friends about another shitty date.
I DM’d her, and we got to talking. With every message, it became more and more apparent how unhappy dating made her.
I asked, “You seem miserable from dating. Do you think it’s good for you mentally?”
Dating is a process. Unless you’re amongst the lucky few, it takes more than one date to find a great match. For a lot of people, it takes many dates.
No wonder, then, that people are suffering from what’s known as “dating fatigue.”
Maybe you’ve been searching for “the one” for years. Perhaps you’ve swiped right on so many people, you sometimes forget what you’re even doing.
The pursuit is real. Between romantic movies and our parents, the pressure to find a relationship can feel suffocating. But all this effort and pressure could be making you deeply unhappy.
Because dating isn’t just about finding a perfect match. It’s also understanding yourself; your wants and needs. What kind of qualities you want in an ideal partner and who makes you the happiest.
That’s why it’s important to realize if dating is making you unhappy and make changes. Here are some signs to look out for:
Your emotional state hangs on your matches
Are you ecstatic when you match with someone cute? How about insecure when you don’t?
When I was single, my go-to way of trying to make myself feel better was to swipe through Bumble. Spoiler: it always made me feel worse.
If you’re doing this every now and then, there’s no need for concern. But if it’s happening all the time, and affecting your self-esteem, you need to be wary.
Researchers at the University of North Texas found that men and women who use dating apps are more likely to have lower self-esteem than those that didn’t.
Letting strangers on an app dictate your worth isn’t logical; they don’t even know you. If you’re falling victim to this kind of behavior, maybe it’s time for a break.
You feel drained after dates
Here’s a life hack: whenever you’re not sure if something is toxic — a friend, job, dating life — ask yourself one question:
After [insert activity], do I feel fulfilled or drained?
If the answer is drained, you need to consider if that person or activity is worth having in your life. That or big change needs to happen.
Dating won’t always be perfect, but it sure as hell shouldn’t feel like a constant uphill trek. If it does, maybe it’s time to reconsider your efforts.
You’re not connecting with anyone
If you find yourself going on date after date — feeling afterward like you’re uninterested and have the worst luck —it’s hard to stay optimistic.
Like my friend I mentioned before, you can only go on so many shitty dates before you become cynical.
So it’s time to do things differently.
The problem is, you’ve probably lost sight of what qualities of a partner are most important to you. Maybe you think you can’t be picky or should give everyone a chance.
But with that mindset, you’ll find yourself on plenty of lackluster dates.
Instead, take a break from dating and re-focus on the qualities you’re looking for in a partner. At the very least, vet who you meet up with better and go on fewer dates.
You feel like dating is a chore
After work, you hurrying home, slap on some make-up or cologne and drag yourself to the local pub. Dating isn’t fun anymore; it feels like a chore.
If that sounds like you, then you’re missing the whole point of dating. Meeting new people can be exciting and fun. If you feel like you’re moving through the motions like a robot, of course, dating is going to suck. Feeling like dating is a mandatory part of life will create resentment around the whole process.
What’s the solution? Do whatever it takes to make dating fun again. Whether that be taking time off from it or planning activities you actually enjoy.
You care a lot about what your dates think of you
Do you find yourself sitting across from your date wondering if they’re having a good time? So much so that all a sudden they’re staring at you, waiting for a response, and you have no idea what they said?
It’s probably because you’re focused too much on what your date thinks of you.
When I went on dates, I tried to be charming, likable and left out the less than stellar parts of my current life. Yea, that sounds a bit manipulative, but I had good intentions. I wanted them to like me. I lost sight that part of dating is determining if I like the other person, too.
Dating really should be fun; stress shouldn’t be in the equation. If you care deeply about what strangers you meet for dinner think of you, you’re going to find your judgment clouded, just like me.
You feel like a victim to the process
A common phrase I hear people say about their dating life is, “why me?”
Or maybe more of, “why not me?”
I’m going to throw down some truth: there’s no dating genie shelling out horrible dates to you. You’re not a victim of the process; you’re a victim of your mindset.
You have control over dating. Actually, you have a lot more control over it than other aspects of your life.
If you feel like a victim, then it’s time to take a step back. Is your mindset affecting your dating life? Is dating even making you happy?
You obsess over checking your dating apps
If you find yourself thinking, “just a few more swipes,” over and over, late into the night, you might be addicted.
Dating app addiction is a real thing. Researchers from Ohio State University found that people who are addicted to datings apps suffer from social anxiety and loneliness, not the best combination when trying to find a romantic partner.
If you find it hard to use dating apps less or turn to them whenever you have free time, they may be causing you more harm than good.
The best thing you can do, while dating, is check in with yourself along the journey. Your sanity is your top priority. When you’re happy, you’re more optimistic and your genuine self shines through.
So if you find that dating is making you unhappy, consider a break and think about what qualities matter most to you in a partner.
In a world where online dating connects us to more people than ever, it can feel very lonely at times. Check-in with yourself and remember that your dating process is unique to you.