Whoever said there were plenty of fish in the sea never took overfishing into account. From Hinge to Happn and everything in between, you’ve never had more options for finding your next hookup, partner, or spouse. But no matter what you’re looking for, the dating game can leave a person feeling burned out, apathetic, and entirely disposable.
In a time when everyone’s options seem limitless, it’s important to set some guidelines and avoid the ever-present dating-triggered nihilism.
Know when to say no
We’ve all heard the romanticized stories—“I was about to cancel on them but decided not to, and I met the love of my life!” Don’t let a constant string of what-ifs carry you from date to date. Like any other social event in life, you need to know when sitting one out will benefit your peace of mind. If you find that you’re not making time for things you love to do so that you can squeeze in dates, you aren’t putting yourself first. That’s a slippery slope that leads directly to dating burnout.
Another part of saying no is not making allowances for people’s behavior. If someone says or does something that doesn’t sit right with you before meeting them, don’t go! You don’t owe them a thing and the chances are, if their behavior already doesn’t sit right with you, you won’t get along with them in real life. Why waste everyone’s time when you could be hanging out with your friends (guaranteed fun!) or picking up a hobby?
Don’t pressure yourself
It can be really tough listening to your friends’ success stories or seeing seamless relationships on social media, but a good relationship doesn’t always come easy. Dating shouldn’t be stressful, and not every date has to result in you finding “the one,” so don’t put so much pressure on yourself.
It’s important to give things time and consideration before deciding whether a person is the right fit, but don’t try to force it when it’s clear that they aren’t. You’re your best self when relaxed and open, so enjoy getting to know a person without having too many expectations of what’s to come. This will also help you avoid overthinking the meaning behind every text, statement, and action.
Recognize your bad habits
Bad dating habits. We all have them, and they can get in the way of our ability to form positive relationships with others and ourselves. Modern dating can be fast-paced and overwhelming, so before you jump into something new, make sure you ask yourself which red flags have fooled you more than once.
Are you prone to dating fixer-uppers? Do you give people one, two, three too many chances? Only fall for people with whom you know things won’t work out? Having done all of the above, I know there’s power in recognizing when—and how—you play yourself.
Once you’ve identified these patterns, note them and avoid them next time a red flag appears early on in your relationship. It’s no easy feat, and sometimes you’ll slip up and make the same mistakes. But take it from me: if a person isn’t ready to be the partner you need right now, you’re probably not going to be the one to change them.
Dating can be a slog. You think you’ve found someone you get along with who gives you all of the right signs, and then they disappear as quickly as they arrived. You get excited to meet someone you think has real potential, only to discover there’s zero chemistry. Through all of this, try to think positively. Consider what you’ve learned from your dates—not only about the world, but about yourself. Dating gives you an opportunity to explore what you like and don’t like, what you stand for, which values you care about most.
It can also be a fun way to meet interesting, inspiring people. Maybe they’re not a romantic fit, but who says you can’t find a friend on a dating app? Maybe your date is just what you needed to inspire you to take up that hobby you’ve been meaning to try for ages. Sure, dating comes with its fair share of disappointing moments, but try to remember the good in it all. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be reminded that you’re a desirable, attractive person inside and out.