How to deal with dating app fatigue

I stopped dating in 2020. After a painful socially-distanced walk with a conspiracy theorist who was convinced that lizard people lived inside the earth (yes, true story), I decided to take a much needed one-year break from dating. After one too many dead-end conversations and uncomfortable hang outs, I lethargically slumped into dating app fatigue.

What is dating app fatigue?

If you’re a fellow dating app user, you may recognize the tell-tale signs of dating app fatigue. In my experience it goes something like this:

  1. Hope: I download a dating app starry eyed as the algorithm serves you the most attractive, ambitious, and interesting bachelors or bachelorettes, full of hope and promise.
  2. The Ick: The days pass and I find myself rolling your eyes at one too many, “I’m competitive about: everything”, “the secret to getting to know me is: just ask”, or the jaded “the worst decision I ever made was: downloading this app.”
  3. Confusion: I begin to wonder (cue scene of Carrie Bradshaw pensively looking out her New York Apartment window), do these people even want to be here? Do I even want to be here?
  4. Exhaustion: Dating apps begin to feel like a low-paying part-time job. I can muster up the effort to swipe on a good match, but decide I’m not interested enough to risk a first date. I am sucked into an endless cycle of small talk.
  5. Delete and repeat: I find someone I’m a little too excited about and wait for a response that never comes. Eventually, I delete and re-download the platform until I’m convinced that I’ve matched with everyone in a 100 mile radius.

If you’re starting to question whether you’re too picky or there are simply too many options on this online shopping dating, app, I’m here to remind you of one critical fact: dating sucks, you don’t.

How do you push through the cycles of online dating to finally find a good match? How do you prevent dating fatigue and keep your love life exciting rather than exhausting? Is it all worth it?

Pay attention to your dating app habits.

Do you find yourself swiping dating apps late at night when you’re lonely? Do seek matches when you’re craving validation? Are you using the app to cure boredom? Does this sound like a late-night infomercial intent on selling you a solution? For the low price of $0.00 you can change your intention to prevent dating app fatigue.

I know people who have used the dating apps for years and only followed through with one date. I know of people who have used the dating apps to send girls the same playlists and selfies only to ghost them the next day (yes, West Elm Caleb we have still not moved on).

You’re interacting with all of these people and trying to delicately prune out the ones that are serious and the ones that want a little fuzzy feeling when they see you matched with them, with no intention to ask you how many siblings you have over cocktails. Sigh.

Be honest, you’ve probably been that person yourself. You may not be sending curating playlists to 10+ suitors a week, but you’ve likely ghosted someone who seems genuinely interested in getting to know you, beyond your 50-word bio.

Identify why you’re using the dating app and how you’re feeling when you log on. If you’re using the app to solve something beyond your dating life, get more intentional about what you want from the next swipe.

Get off the apps when you enter dating app fatigue.

Deleting and re-downloading a dating app isn’t a loss, it’s part of the game. When you feel yourself losing hope in the process or lack the energy to engage in conversations or dates, take a break from the apps. Pause your profile or delete the thing altogether.

I only download a dating app when I’m in the right headspace to go on dates. This means that I try not to use it frequently as a source of entertainment or a cure to my inevitable boredom. If I’m busy at work, recovering from heartbreak, or simply not in the mood to meet new people, I will delete the apps from my phone and focus on other things. Sometimes we need a dopamine detox to get our heads straight.

The thing is, dating doesn’t have an ON/OFF switch. Just because you’re on a hiatus from an app, it doesn’t mean you have to close yourself off from the possibility of dating. At one point, I deleted the apps and decidedly swore off dating and the very next day someone from the gym approached me and asked me on a date. The world works in mysterious ways.

Change your dating mindset.

Dating expert, Matthew Hussey, says that if you’re unbearably nervous to go on a first date, you’re going into it with the wrong mindset. Raise your standards and lower your expectations.

The weird thing about online dating is that, most of the time, you’re meeting up with complete strangers. Sure, you can search for their LinkedIn, browse their high school sports team stats, stare at their private Instagram profile, and ask a friend of a friend how they’re connected on Facebook, but you won’t know much about them until you risk it all to meet IRL.

Dating is not a performance. You’re not there to make a good impression — you’re there to make a connection. If you’re entering a date with a high-pressure mindset, take a deep breath and remember that this is supposed to be fun. Get dressed up, feel your best, and get curious.

Get curious about the person you’re meeting. Ask them questions about their life and genuinely listen to their answers. Worry less about how you’re coming across and get more interested in what you think about their character, values, and attitude.

If you’re not the right match for one another, try to look back on the date as a helpful learning experience about how you can better connect with new people, instead of a waste of your time.

Make dating fun again.

Eight months ago I moved to a new city where I knew two people. In the inception of hot girl summer, I wanted to spice up my social life by deciding to go on fun dates only. I can happily report that this experiment was a success.

I went brewery hopping in a new neighbourhood, had a sunset picnic on the beach, crashed a random gig at a house party, hit up a winery with a petting zoo (ft. llamas), browsed the farmers market after park yoga, jumped in a fiery hot wood-burning sauna, ate oysters by the sea, played fair games at a night market, and learned how to improve my swing at the driving range.

Maybe it was the new city or maybe it was me, but something had drastically changed. Dating was fun again. I matched with people who seemed adventurous or spontaneous and started conversations about cool new restaurants, seasonal events, and live music. I found myself laughing more, feeling less nervous, and reflecting on the dates fondly, even when the connection wasn’t there.

If you’ve been on a string of boring dates, recognize that there are interesting and fun people out there who want to have a good time with you. Bring your newfound enthusiasm and positive attitude to every conversation and meeting you encounter. If you don’t find your soul mate, at least you got to pet a llama.

Don’t let the bad dates get you down.

Have you ever returned home from an awful date and had the overwhelming urge to text your ex? Please, stay strong. If you’re going on dating app dates for the first time, you’re sure to experience a few letdowns. Maybe you endured painfully long awkward silences and stilted conversations. Perhaps you faked a friend emergency to duck out in the first 45 minutes.

Bad dates happen. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on a date with a bad person (although that’s entirely possible), but they may be the wrong person for you.

Don’t let the bad dates, bad dudes, or bad times get you down. If you get home from a boring, stressful, or downright frightening date, please take time to de-stress and reassure yourself that you’re in the driver’s seat.

You don’t have to invite people into your life who you don’t want to interact with. Realize that there are millions of great people out there who won’t try to spoon-feed you dessert on a first date (yes, I’m still working on repressing that one).

Stop treating online dating like Netflix.

If you’re a human being on earth with access to someone’s Netflix account then you’ve probably lost hours of your life indecisively scrolling the archives of the app looking for the one.

You think that once you see it, you’ll just know. Are you in the mood for a thriller? A romance? A documentary? You have no clue. How are you meant to select the right partner for you, if you can’t choose 1.5 hours of entertainment?

Sit down and think about what you want. Make two lists. On one list, write down all of the qualities and characteristics that you want in a partner. Get specific and add to this list as you gain more dating experience.

Yes, write down physical traits you’re attracted to but don’t forget about important things like, do you want someone who asks you questions? Do you want someone who demonstrates empathy? Do you want someone who makes you laugh? Sitting through a date and realizing that something is missing is an opportunity to get even more clear about what you want in a partner.

Next, make a list of all the things you bring to the table. Write down your positive traits and achievements. Look at the list and recognize all of the qualities you have to offer your friends, family, and potential partner. If you don’t feel good about your list, this is also a great opportunity to work on yourself. Would you go on a date with you?

Get comfortable being single.

People are conditioned to believe that being in a relationship is a way to feel valued and happy. Question this narrative and ask yourself, will all my problems go away when I find a partner? It’s okay to recognize that you want a relationship, but it’s dangerous to believe that you need one.

There are a lot of benefits that come with being single. You have more time to focus completely on your self and your personal development. You have the energy to build the life that you want. I know that’s frustrating to hear, “just focus on yourself” or “it will happen when you least expect it.”

You don’t need to focus on yourself to be worthy of a relationship. A relationship isn’t a prize that comes after you’ve hit all of your life goals. However, you can look at being single as an opportunity. If you’re uncomfortable being single, it’s more likely that you will lower your standards to avoid this discomfort. If you’re comfortable being single, you won’t settle for someone who doesn’t meet your standards.

Attract more of what you want.

We attract what we are. When you’re intentional, open to having fun, and fulfilled in your own life, you’re more likely to attract the same.

If you find yourself attracted to emotionally unavailable partners with commitment issues, examine why you’re attracted to this type and if you possess some of these traits.

If you’re attracted to avoidant partners, examine if you’re more interested in chasing an unattainable partner than connecting with a secure partner.

Self-awareness is the first step to figuring out what you want and if you’re ready to attract it into your life. Prepare the soil before you plant the seeds.

Stop wasting your own time. Understand that you have a full life to live outside of your phone screen. Living a full life and realizing that dating is a small part of that big picture is attractive.

Read How to be more attractive next.