Dating is supposed to be fun and exciting, eliciting fantasies of finding the perfect match. However, online dating presents a new dilemma, with its seemingly endless swiping, matching and chatting with others at the risk of being ghosted. Oftentimes, conversations just begin to fizzle out, and it can be frustrating or disheartening when connections never make it offline. If you’ve been feeling increasingly disappointed or defeated, you may be experiencing online dating burnout.
Staying away from dating apps can be difficult, especially since a Pew Research Center survey reveals 53% of U.S. adults under 30 use them. Keep reading for tips on recognizing dating app fatigue and how to prioritize your mental well-being.
Recognizing Online Dating Burnout
The term burnout refers to excessive or prolonged emotional, mental or physical stress. It’s often used to explain feeling emotionally drained from an overwhelming workload, but it can also describe online dating stress. A study by Singles Reports shows about 4 in 5 people aged 18 to 54 experience some degree of online dating burnout.
Burnout can make you feel emotionally exhausted, apathetic and overwhelmed. If you aren’t sure whether you’re struggling with burnout, here are signs to consider:
- Dating feels like a chore. When dating feels like an obligation and not a fun activity, you may need to step back and recharge.
- Finding a partner feels hopeless. Losing hope of connecting with someone can indicate burnout and make dating less enjoyable.
- Secretly hoping your date will cancel. If you’re scheduling dates with no motivation to attend, you may become easily irritated or frustrated, sabotaging your chances of connecting with someone.
- Taking rejection extra hard. Rejection is never easy, but if it’s making you question your self-worth or ability to maintain romantic relationships, taking a break may be necessary for your mental well-being.
Impact on Mental Health in Online Dating
Online dating isn’t inherently bad. It can help people with social anxiety who struggle to meet people in real life form connections. Additionally, it allows you to browse through profiles to find someone with similar interests and personality traits, making it easier to start conversations. However, online dating also has its drawbacks, and there are a few ways it can negatively affect your mental health.
Stress and Anxiety
When downloading a dating app, you’re prompted to create a profile highlighting your interests, lifestyle preferences and favorite photos. At first, this can be fun, but as you’re getting ready to publish it, you may question whether it best represents who you are or will attract the right matches.
After creating a profile, it can be difficult to step away from your phone while waiting for likes, messages or matches to come in. And if they don’t, feelings of anxiety or stress may develop, causing you to question your self-worth or attractiveness. This can result in constantly checking your phone or updating your profile, making online dating feel like a job rather than a fun activity.
Realistically, not every match will result in a connection or date. However, being rejected or ghosted can still be frustrating and hurtful, especially if a conversation seemed to be going well before suddenly fizzling out. This can cause feelings of depression or hopelessness, leading to lowered self-esteem, social isolation or lack of motivation to connect with anyone at all. These feelings may leak into your everyday life, making it difficult to focus on work, school or social relationships.
Poor Body Image
With online dating, photos are the most noticeable aspects of a person’s profile. This can make it feel like you’re being judged solely on physical appearance or attractiveness. You may become more self-critical about your appearance and post photos based on what you believe others want to see rather than how you wish to portray yourself. This disconnection can cause feelings of shame or dissatisfaction about your body or personality, making it more difficult to maintain positive thoughts about dating.
Strategies for Managing Online Dating Stress
Online dating burnout can take an emotional toll, causing you to feel tired and less energetic. If this happens, it’s important to step back and consider why online dating causes these feelings. You may need to change how you approach it to preserve your mental health and well-being. The following strategies can help manage online dating stress:
- Take a break. When you’re feeling emotionally drained or stressed from using dating apps, put your phone down and walk away. Spend time with friends or family, go outside or engage in self-care activities, including reading or exercising, to recharge and increase your energy levels.
- Set boundaries. Dating apps make it too easy to engage in endless swiping, but setting boundaries on when and how long you use the app can prevent this from happening. Stop swiping just before you feel tired or defeated to maintain a positive mindset.
- Date who you want to date. Don’t go on dates with people you aren’t interested in or feel pressured to date. You’re more likely to develop a meaningful connection with someone you’re attracted to and have mutual interests with, leading to a more fulfilling experience.
- Don’t set a dating timeline. Some people set timelines regarding when they want to meet someone, get engaged or get married. This may increase your anxiety around dating, pressuring you to spend more time swiping and going on unwanted dates. Drop the timeline and have fun instead.
Swipe Right and Mental Well-Being: How to Seek Support
If online dating burnout becomes unbearable or overwhelming, it may be beneficial to seek support. Reach out to friends or family to discuss your struggles and see if they’re dealing with similar scenarios or have advice to share. Having a safe place to vent can alleviate feelings of anxiety, stress or depression, potentially helping you gain a more positive mindset about dating.
However, persistent mental health issues may indicate a larger problem, sparking the need for professional help. If you can’t seem to overcome burnout or your mental health worsens, FHE offers various mental health services to help you explore these feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Contact FHE today to speak with our compassionate counselors and get needed help.