Overcoming Dating App Burnout—and How to Meet Someone
Written by: Ezzie Spencer, PhD
Published on: December 15, 2022
Photo courtesy of Elmar Krop/The Licensing Project
Dating apps have created such a challenging landscape for daters. A self-love mindset is critical; knowing that you’re lovable as you are is the starting point—and the end point—to developing emotional resilience in dating.
In my relationship coaching programs, I teach a three-part strategy for navigating modern dating.
Get Clear about Your Standards
What kind of behavior do you want from someone you’re dating? What do you need?
Sometimes, in app dating, we can develop a feeling of scarcity fueled by the devolution in how people are showing up in the online world. It’s easy to feel like love isn’t possible or that you have to put up with substandard behavior. It’s important to be anchored in your sense of self-worth and not settle.
Show Up with Authenticity
On dates, come from a place of authenticity. I like to frame it as showing your magic.
People have been so bruised by the online world in terms of ghosting, false representations, and careless communication. It’s understandable that people show up emotionally guarded and closed off. Paradoxically, the key is to still show up as your full self—even if it’s difficult—and allow people to sense who you really are.
It’s about melting away some of that rigidity. That way, people will be able to sense whether or not you’re a real match for them.
Develop an Effective Filtering System
We have an infinite number of options, right? That is one of the great things about dating apps; they open whole worlds of possibility. But we need to be able to filter in a way that’s effective. Rather than coming in with a detailed checklist of what you want in a partner, understand that there are three main ways to know whether you have real chemistry and long-term compatibility.
Are you emotionally attracted? Emotional attraction is first and foremost. Starting with what you need to come alive and how you feel safe and cherished inside of relationship, do you know what turns you on emotionally?
Is there a physical connection? Often, people either lead with physical connection and jump right into something based on that alone, or they background the physical connection and talk themselves into someone they’re not attracted to who looks good on paper. You do need to have that initial physical connection in order to sustain a long-term partnership.
Could you be friends? We’re looking for the threads of what ultimately will be companionship— a friendship that can develop over time. Do you have shared values? Is this someone you want to chat with? What we do not want to do right away is ask ourselves “Is this someone that I can imagine having kids with?” Like, that’s not the right question. Don’t fall into a fantasy. Don’t intellectualize your feelings, either. At every stage, from swiping to first dates and so on, trust how you’re feeling right now. Is there enough there to move on to the next step?
Remember to flirt. Remember to have fun with it. Take the pressure off. You’re only meeting someone for the first or second time. You do not need to be assessing their lifetime partnership potential. Put the checklist down and bring the intention of play, curiosity, openness, and exploration. And don’t be afraid to make a move: Sometimes we look to the other person to initiate a particular emotional experience, but instead we can claim our own power to create the emotional flavor that we want to have.
You’ll find that happens when you come into dating from a place of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-compassion. That’s the foundation for the entire experience to be not only fun and joyful but also, ultimately, successful. That’s how you’re going to meet someone who’s on the same page. That’s where the magic comes from.
If you’re not having fun—if dating is making you feel depleted and drained—deactivate the apps. Not just for tonight or through the weekend; for at least a month. You’re not going to be able to initiate that sense of energy and possibility and play if you’re burned out. In the meantime, set a container for yourself to figure out: Am I trying to get something? Am I performing? Am I showing up trying to please the other person instead of myself? Light a candle, get yourself flowers, be really intentional about how you show up when you do decide to get back on the apps.
Alternatives to the Swiping Apps
It’s often the virtual architecture of dating apps that shapes behavior. It’s been so normalized in the online dating world that you drop out when you’re not interested. People don’t show up with the courage to explain to someone that you’re not a match or that there are other factors going on in your life that make now a bad time.
I’m excited about a new app called La Vette—I am a community leader for their members—a world which has been built from the ground up to bring humanness back into the virtual dating experience. Everyone on the platform is background-checked and vetted by the La Vette team. Instead of swiping, you meet people with shared interests through a virtual social club.
They’ve built in the incremental stages of the dating process. Even a virtual vibe-check is built in. You connect with someone, you see whether there’s a spark, and then straight away you jump onto a very brief video date to get a sense of whether there might actually be some chemistry and compatibility. And then, if you like each other, you go on to the next step.
And La Vette has an anti-ghosting feature, where after every date you have to select in the app whether you’d like to see that person again. If you don’t respond to the question, you risk getting kicked off the platform. It requires you—and the people you meet—to be honest.
Offline, I recommend that you nudge yourself to ask loved ones whether they have any single friends who might be a match. Actively seek out events to connect easily with those who enjoy similar experiences. For example, if you like hiking, search online for a hiking group in your area, go to the next meetup and make a point of striking up a conversation with the person who interests you. Take yourself out to your favorite café (solo!), leave your phone in your purse, and make eye contact with a cute turmeric-latte drinker for a moment longer than feels comfortable.
Once you have struck up a light connection with someone in the wild, ask yourself the same questions as above: Are you emotionally and physically attracted to this person? Is there a conversational flow? Rather than asking yourself whether this newcomer is the one, simply explore the next step. Keep listening to your heart, anchor back into self-love, and know that love is inevitable.
Ezzie Spencer, PhD, is a Los Angeles–based relationship coach. Her 12-week coaching program, Re.Love, uses positive psychology to help women develop self-compassion, self-worth, and confidence in dating and relationships. Spencer is the author of Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon. She is a former human rights lawyer and has a doctorate in therapeutic jurisprudence.
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