Do you find yourself feeling jaded, sarcastic, and cynical about online dating? A little more negative than you care to see yourself? A tad more reactive to the recent ghosting incident, or to the insensitive remark from someone you've never even met and shouldn't care about at all? Good news! There's probably a reason for this. You're probably burned out. Dating burnout can be as mysterious and elusive as it is detrimental to our dating lives until we learn to identify it and deal with it. As with career burnout, and other kinds of burnout, dating burnout creeps up on us. The first few times it happens, we can't quite pinpoint what's happening until we're deep in the quicksand of burnout itself. Online daters usually just "muscle through" imagining that if they just keep going, they'll meet the one who will make all the pain worth the struggle. How protestant and masochistic of us all. Here are some of the signs of online burnout and a simple roadmap for how to start dealing with it...
Signs of Online Burnout
Some of these signs could also be attributed to narcissism and not caring about other people, but if you can rule those out for yourself, there's a good chance you're experiencing some burnout.
As a therapist, I can tell you that resistance is not something to be taken lightly. Sometimes it's worth it to work through it, but working through it entails understanding it, rather than blindly "pushing through" it. Usually it's a call to look more deeply at an unmet need. Our resistance is a silent voice inside of us trying to be heard. It's RARELY about the outside circumstance we are resisting, and is actually about listening to what we need and taking a stand for that, speaking up about it - at the very least to ourselves, and often, in relationship itself. So, how does this translate? What do we do when we feel that online burnout? Excited to note that these four steps naturally fell into an acronym: SIFT
1. STOP what you are doing. Notice and be with the resistance.
First step: Stop pushing through, and notice what's happening inside you. Notice how you feel it in your body. You feel tension somewhere. Where? What does it feel like? Does it feel good to keep increasing the tension by pushing through? How does it feel to stop pushing and just feel the discomfort you feel? Probably not great, but pushing through doesn't feel great either. Discomfort is inevitable, so just sit with it. This is a core mindfulness skill, and a core therapy skill (EXPANSION//DISTRESS TOLERANCE) so give yourself a pat on the back for practicing.
2. IDENTIFY what the resistance is telling you. What is it your needing?
Maybe you need a vacation, something to let you feel like your happy self again. Maybe you need to enjoy your work life more. Maybe you just need more ease and joy in your dating life. Take some time to self-reflect here. If you feel totally lost, here's a jumping off point to think about what your core needs may be.
3. Fill your own cup by redirecting your energy away from the perceived need and towards your deep actual need.
If you're needing a vacation, schedule it. If you're dehydrated, get a water purifier in your room (no need is to basic to attend to here. Maybe you're not really lonely, just thirsty ;). If you're needing intimacy or connection, cultivate that with yourself and your current community. If you're needing to meet people IRL to see if there's chemistry and don't like text-chatting, look up ways to do that - speed dating, live shows, parties, clubs.
4. Take a break.
Interval training works. Give yourself time to repair your dating muscles when you need to. It can be a week, a month, a year, or just a full Sunday, but make sure to really give yourself the time you need. It doesn't have to be a break from dating in general, if the burnout is stemming from online dating. Give yourself permission to offline and meet people in a way that feels good and natural.
The key to beating burn out is to recognize that it's happening, and to attend to yourself. The key to dating (and relationships) is to be know yourself. Let burnout be a reminder to reset.
Lauren Korshak is a San Francisco-based Marriage and Family Therapist, Meditation Teacher, Dating & Relationship Coach, and former matchmaker. She has a BA in Psychology from University of Southern California (USC) and an MA in Somatic Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS.) In her free time, Lauren can be found dancing, meditating, adventuring outdoors, making music, and spending QT with loved ones.