What do you do when you’re tired of Tinder? Do you take a break or keep swiping until you like it again?
You know, I get asked about this a lot and honestly, I don’t know if I have the right answer, because I don’t think there is one answer.
Let’s start by thinking of online dating like we think about work. What happens when you’re stressed out at work? Things aren’t going your way, or are stagnant, or you’ve got too much on your plate, right? I know that if I’m stressed out about my professional life, it’s usually because I’m either overwhelmed, or I feel like I’m at a dead-end professionally. Here’s a great piece on Psychology Today on the six sources of burnout at work, and because I like to consider myself an artist, I’m
stealing appropriating the six sources of burnout and applying them to dating. Here they are, but applied to dating:
- Lack of Control – No control or minimal control of your dating life.
- Values Conflict – meeting people whose core values are vastly different, or people who were dishonest about their core dating values (i.e. you mention being LTR focused, they lie and say they are then want a FWB)
- Insufficient Reward – feeling as though you’re giving more than you’re getting
- Overload – too many apps/messages/options/first dates/or rejections
- Unfairness – Feeling as though you’re not getting the success your dating peers are despite the fact that you’re putting in the same if not more effort
- Breakdown of Community – The people you keep meeting and matching with are terrible, you keep getting ghosted or unmatched without notice, etc.
If any of these sound like the reason you don’t want to use Tinder, or any other online dating app then trust me, you’re not alone. If I had to speak anecdotally I would say that the average straight guy who dates online will probably feel the most impacted by Insufficient Reward and Unfairness. I think that most straight women will feel the most impacted by Overload and Values Conflict and I think that generally speaking, the Breakdown of Community and Lack of Control is something all people complain about. Personally, when I do start to feel burned out by dating, it’s usually because of Insufficient Reward. For someone who writes on an almost daily basis about dating advice, who then takes the lessons learned to try to write meaningful, well thought out messages, it’s hard not feel a bit fatigued when something like 10% to 20% of your messages are responded to.
Now what do you do if you’re tired of Tinder, or dating apps in general? Well I guess it depends on what the source of your frustrations are. If you feel like you don’t have control over your dating life, remind yourself that you have control over parts of your dating life. You can’t control what people do when they start dating you but you can control who you date. I’d suggest evaluating your filtering process, or your “type” and see if you need to make changes. If you feel as though you’re stressing out about values conflicts well, that’s a tough one, mainly because people can lie about their values and you’ll never know until you know, you know? When it comes to issues with values, just try to remember that when someone shows you that you have a values conflict with them, you don’t need to stick around and work on it. Insufficient reward is one I still struggle with and I think the best way I’ve learned to deal with it is by reminding myself of all the carefully crafted messages I will never respond to. The heart wants what the heart wants and whether or not you write a great first message often has very little to do with whether or not you get a response. Overload is simple to fix. Turn off notifications on all your dating apps (my personal favorite), delete matches if you know you’ll never message them, and minimize the total number apps or websites you’re on. Or delete all the apps and try meeting people offline.
The unfairness of dating is built into the process, because dating like life just isn’t fair (apologies if you believe in some sort of mystical reward/balancing system, let’s agree to disagree, ya?). The thing to remember with the unfairness of dating is that although we talk about and think of our dating lives as one continuum, we really should think of dating as a series of isolated events. We tell stories about our dating lives like this: “I met this guy and he sent me a picture of his junk, gross. Then I met this guy who would not stop talking about his Ex, skip! Then I met a guy who insisted that the Earth is flat. Ugh, it’s like I can’t meet anyone good”. It’s natural to try to craft a narrative around the events of your life, but I’d suggest reframing how you think of dating. It isn’t just one long story that culminates with what you were looking for, it’s a series of semi-random events and then you maybe luck into meeting someone you click with. If you stop thinking of your dating life as a story and more a collection of random isolated events, things wont seem so unfair.
Finally, the breakdown of community. Sad to say, but there isn’t much you can do here. Ghosting is a thing now, texting instead of calling is a thing, and texting at 2am is really, really, REALLY a thing these days. If you’re feeling burned out by the way most people date, honestly, you might just need to take a break from dating for a while. I’m not saying all people date in a callous way, but the prevalence of some of our worst dating behaviors has made quite a few people callous when it comes to dating. For many people, this callousness is just how they cope with the other dating stressors out there. If you feel that dating is unfair because you’re not getting responses to your messages, will you respond to messages from people you’re not interested in? Wouldn’t you be short with men if the last 10 guys who messaged you sent an unsolicited dick pic? Wouldn’t you ignore most of your messages if you got 1000 “hi” messages in a row? I’m not trying to excuse the level of callousness many modern daters exhibit, just laying out some causes.
It’s ultimately for you to decide how you deal with dating burnout. Do you work at it, change your approach, reframe the way you think, or take a well needed break? That’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself.
Good Luck Out There.