Love, Self

Burned Out From Dating? What You Need To Know Before Jumping Back Into The Game

Photo: Brittani Burns on Unsplash
How To Deal With Dating Stress, Burnout And Exhaustion

If you spend enough time in the dating game, you may start believing you've exhausted all of your options and the energy you’re putting into trying to find true love just isn’t worth the frustration.

It’s hard to say what will bring any one of us to the point of a psychological collapse so crushing that you feel it reverberate throughout your body and mind in respect to relationships and everyday activities. The causes of stress and burnout are highly individualized and not subject to any kind of rules or expectations society might have.

What is burnout?

According to the dictionary definition, burnout is "exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation as a result of prolonged stress or frustration."

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To deal with stress effectively and prevent burnout of any kind from happening in the future, it's important to learn out your own tolerance levels.

You may be familiar with burnout from work, family, or social activities, but when it comes to dating, you may think, "I just need to keep going until it happens and I find the one."

You want to find love, be in a relationship and live happily ever after, cuddling with your sweetie for eternity, so you might get frustrated or think there’s something wrong with you or something you are doing wrong in your search. You might think the right one will come along any day now, and you can’t blink or you might miss it.

It’s like having a case of FOMO — the fear of missing out. You don’t want to miss any event or a conference, thinking you might meet (read: fall in love with) someone there. This leads you to do things and go places somewhat for the wrong reasons. You do them not because you really want to, but because you're afraid of what you might miss if you don't.

This causes stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and, yes, burnout, all of which may be signs that you are getting in your own way, blocking what should be happening by trying too hard to make it happen.

Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you've basically give up on dating, you can’t expect to find love from your sofa, buried under a gallon of rocky road ice cream.

You’ve got to get back out there and strike a balance somewhere between this-is-a-life-and-death-matter and I-don’t-even-care-anymore. The middle ground will yield far better results.

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In order to start dating again in a healthy way, start by looking at some common reasons people get burned out and coming to understand what dating burnout looks like. You can then learn ways to deal with and recover from this kind of stress in your own life.

Common reason for dating burnout

To begin, here are four common reasons people experience dating burnout:

1. Exhaustion

Dating exhaustion occurs when you’re dealing with stress and feeling overwhelmed for an extended period of time.

Maybe you’re checking your dating apps around the clock and obsessing over them. Or maybe you’ve lost your focus and you’re considering every candidate, feeling overwhelmed in that way. Perhaps, you’re not feeling fulfilled by meaningful connections and so you’ve lost your energy and feel ill.

Sometimes, it’s not the volume of activity — it’s the lack of passion. When you’re not following your inner truth, you can feel exhausted.

Have you ever noticed how you don’t seem to run out of energy when you’re doing something you’re excited about? Well, if your dates aren’t in line with your values, then they’re just sucking the life out of you. Two people who are wrong for you can take more energy than ten people who are right.

Another reason you might feel exhausted by dating is that you’re focusing on others, rather than yourself. Are you trying to find someone your kids will accept? Or someone your mother would approve of?

Are you trying to find someone who will date you rather than trying to find the person you’d like to date?

This type of search can lead to a massive disconnect, with nothing to feed your energy levels. Plus, you’ll end up feeling bad about yourself because you’re not experiencing any success with dating.

2. Failure and shame

Have you recently screwed up? Maybe lost a potential partner by making a poor decision? And did it result in shame?

Sometimes we’re cruising along and all is going well and, then, from out of nowhere we’re sideswiped, spinning helplessly out of control.

Sometimes, it’s a decision we’ve made that sets events into motion. Sometimes, we’re forced to respond to events that happen in our dating lives.

These events can seem to come out of nowhere. They can feel like major setbacks.

But, here’s the thing to remember: if you’re making decisions that are in line with what you want and you’re looking out for the good of all involved (including yourself), there’s a cosmic reason. Typically, that reason is to shove you into an entirely different perspective and way of life.

And, no, you don’t always know what’s best for your love life. Often, things will happen that seem catastrophic, but they’re meant to put you back on the path to getting what you really want.

But back to that failure, it’s possible that you messed up for another reason. Maybe you did something unethical in order to get a date with someone. Maybe you fibbed a little to make yourself more appealing.

Whatever the reason you landed yourself in a state of deception, you can end up carrying around that guilt and shame for a long time.

Forgive yourself and let the past go. Otherwise, you will end up moving further and further away from your authentic self and your internal values — and further away from the relationship of your dreams.

3. Self-loathing

If you’re not clear on your internal values and you’ve failed in an area more than once, you can develop self-hatred. This is a common and significant reason for feeling burned out from dating.

Maybe you feel unworthy because of something that occurred in the past. Maybe this is based on limiting beliefs imposed upon you during childhood — in a past relationship or by a controlling partner.

Self-loathing is a nasty roadblock that keeps you from gaining success or tapping into your creative potential on a long-term basis.

It leads to toxic negative beliefs and destructive patterns. When you don’t like yourself, you will feel it in your mind, body, and emotions. Instead of reaching for that healthful salad, you’ll reach for cookies and a soda — and that will only compound your exhaustion because you’re not feeding your goodness.

You are a work in progress, in a constant state of evolution. And in order to keep that evolution moving in a forward and upward direction, you’ve got to love yourself enough to continually reach higher and higher.

4. Loss of hope

The loss of hope in yourself is at the root of all dating burnout. If you’ve had moments in the past when you truly loved yourself and felt positive about your current or future relationship, then it’s time to ask what has brought you to the point of hopelessness.

If it was possible at one point to feel good about who you are, what came along and knocked you to the ground? Sometimes, discovering the source of our hopelessness can be tough, especially if it’s due to someone in your life whom you genuinely love and trust.

Evaluate your relationships and the things people say to you. Has someone made you feel little — either inadvertently or on purpose? Whatever the case, don’t let anyone else’s words or intentions make you doubt yourself. Those things belong to them, not you.

If you feel hopeless because of genuine, honest doubts about your abilities, know that you’re not alone.

It’s okay to be real with yourself, that’s something we all have to practice doing. Just make sure these doubts are coming from within, and not from someone or something outside of yourself. It can be very difficult to tell the difference.

If you know deep down that you’re on the right track with your goals and dreams, keep going! And detangle yourself from any naysayers along the way.

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What dating burnout looks like

When we lose faith and hope in ourselves, it can carry over into all areas of our lives, including dating. You might furiously pursue the relationship of your dreams but just go through the motions, thinking that if you put in the time, you’ll get good results.

But, dating and the pursuit of relationship happiness can become a source of burnout, too.

For example:

  • You may come down with the flu or a virus that lasts for months.
  • You might become distracted and apathetic at work, which can potentially lead to termination.
  • You may give up on dating or just go through the motions, feeling indifferent or uninspired by the people you meet.

When we are out of alignment with our inner truth and our authentic self, our friends and families suffer as well.

They see the despondent look in your eyes, the detachment and lack of joy in your demeanor, and feel the disconnect from the treasured relationship they once had with you.

Dating burnout can also lead to isolation.

You might find yourself distracted by things that are not supportive of your overall growth as a person.

You might take up heavy drinking, drugs, or use video games excessively. These negative coping mechanisms will only prolong the effects of the hopelessness or shame you’re feeling.

What’s supposed to be passionate, energizing and exciting can cause fatigue in all areas if we don’t address dating burnout, but when you are burned out and exhausted from dating, it may feel nearly impossible to think clearly.

Do you know what it’s like to have clarity, inspiration and creativity pulsing through your entire body?

When you experience self-doubt or self-loathing, the mind becomes muddled and feels empty. It becomes difficult to think about the future when you don’t even know why you’re doing the things you’re doing.

This will carry over into your emotional health, and your feelings can become locked up and stifled. Without feeling, creativity is impossible. Every day becomes a blank canvas that won’t hold color.

It's important to resolve these dating burnout issues before it’s too late.

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How to deal with the stress and exhaustion of dating burnout

Just because feeling burned out from dating, that doesn’t mean you have to keep being that way. You don't have to quit looking for that special someone.

Instead, you can experience the joy of dating again by following these three simple steps:

1. Take a break from dating apps

When you’re experiencing dating burnout, it should go without saying that you need to rest.

Set a period of time to take a break, log off, and put a hold on all the dating sites. It’s time to be by yourself and relax.

Fill your days with things you really love. Play an instrument, listen to your favorite band, watch a movie, or cook a gourmet meal. Give yourself permission to stop overthinking and stop running in circles. Tell yourself you deserve it, because you do!

There are some professionals in the therapy arena that are adamant about self-care for their practitioners. That’s because they’re helping others and experiencing their trauma secondhand all day long, and we all know what happens when you help everyone but ourselves. You crash.

So, take some time away from dating sites and apps. Breathe deeply and remember how it feels to show yourself some appreciation. Know that recovery means you need to be a little selfish with your time.

Then, when you open those dating apps again, take note of how much better it feels having been away for a while. Take notice of how you’re more in touch with your values and how it’s easier to make decisions based on what you know about yourself.

2. Go to your happy place

Whenever you feel the familiar sting of dating burnout, step away from the maze of dating again and allow yourself space and the time to relax or reflect wherever you do that best. Doing something you truly enjoy and that is for you alone is a genuine form of self-love that will make you more capable of giving love in the long-term.

Sometimes we need these periods to step back and connect with nature and slow down enough to realize that everything will be okay. The world will keep spinning, the sun will keep shining, singles will still be available and your relationship goals and dreams will be there in the morning.

When we become too consumed by relationships or the pursuit of relationships, we run the risk of making something creative, inspiring and passionate into something monotonous, boring, or stressful.

Like playing with an Etch-A-Sketch, sometimes our meticulously crafted images and plans need to be shaken up. The mind needs to focus on other things.

After you’ve recharged, you can return to your relationship pursuit with a fresh head and a rested body, mind, and soul.

3. Reenter the dating game in a more intentional way

Even if you’ve only been away for a day, this strategy should be your go-to.

  • Dig deep: Make a clear connection with your authentic self. This really is the most important thing you can do to recover from dating burnout and prevent it in the future. You can learn how to be more grounded with the real you by reminding yourself of your life's purpose, as well as celebrating your strengths, natural talents, and skills.

  • Set boundaries: For instance, allow yourself only half an hour per day on dating apps. Give yourself another twenty minutes for responding to text messages. Then, shut it all off. Set boundaries with people, too. There’s a difference between real responsibility and destructive obligations born from unhealthy power balances. Not everyone is in your corner, and it’s imperative that you determine whom you can trust and whom you shouldn’t and then set boundaries accordingly. Get a clear perspective on the things you need to say no to by acknowledging limiting beliefs that create confusion, self-doubt, fear, or illusions about perfectionism in your life.
  • Limit distractions: Maybe choose your top two dating apps, so you don't exhaust yourself again by switching among too many and having to keep track of all your connections and messages. Then, limit other, non-dating distractions.If you want to achieve your relationship goals, you’re going to have to focus, and that requires being centered. This involves naming your core values and finding your integrity (or those things you’re not willing to compromise on). Once you identify and affiliate yourself with these things, it will be easy (and even fun) to block those things that should never make it onto your schedule. By adding a few elements of Feng Shui, we can clear out toxic energies that are distracting you from the things you really want.
  • Practice relaxing: Strategic relaxation and mindfulness is a form of organized contemplation. In order to get clear with your authentic self, set boundaries, and limit distractions, you need to be mentally organized. Get straight with your cognition and mental processes, which requires confidence and worthiness-building, so you can detach from your inner critics, learn from failures, build resilience, and tap into your creativity and intuition.When you're back on your feet, you'll no longer be burned out from dating.

Dating is like anything else — it can be fun, energizing and passionate ... at first.

It can be sexy and exciting ... until it’s not.

Too much of any good thing, particularly when that good thing has a variety of ups and downs, can burn out even the most level-headed individual.

We all need balance in our lives, and we need to turn to our inner selves as the fulcrum on which we place it all.

That requires a strategy for shutting down what’s burning us out until we can regain focus, center ourselves, and then come back to it with a fresh mind.

Once you understand what is needed to bring inspiration back into your life, you can create a healthy, viable vision for your future. You can transform your dating burnout into high-energy, rejuvenating connectivity.

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Jacqueline Neuwirth is a Certified Life Coach, CPCC, and Master Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner. She helps people find love, heal from toxic relationships, boost confidence, and improve relationships.