Whether dating apps are causing a "dating apocalypse" or are merely the easiest way to get a date, there's no denying these tools have been total gamechangers in the dating scene within the last few years. And even though dating apps are most popular among Millennials, according to a recent Bustle survey with dating app Happn of over 1,000 dating app users, 78 percent of women and 85 percent of men still want to meet people IRL. That's why for the second year in a row, Bustle is deeming April, "App-less April" and encouraging our staff and readers to delete their dating apps for 30 days and meet people the old-fashioned way: offline. With participants tracking their progress and tricks and tips from dating experts, we'll be helping you feel empowered to meet people IRL all month long.
Dating app burnout is a real thing, folks. And it's a huge reason why Bustle's App-less April, a 30-day challenge to delete your dating apps, was created. When your hand is cramping from all the swiping and your brain feels like mush from decoding every breadcrumb dropped, it's time to admit that you need a break.
In fact, science agrees. Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and author of the relationship blog, You’re Just A Dumbass, surveyed 500 dating app users from 25 to 40 and shared her insights with Bustle. And after nine months of use 65 percent of respondents said that it felt like a job. That's not great — but I know so many friends who have been there.
How do you deal with dating app fatigue? Well first, take a step back from the apps, consider a dating app detox, and remember that you want to date smarter not more. "Treat dating like you are collecting data on what you want and don’t want," Silva says. "See what combinations of qualities and characteristics better complement you. Approaching dating as though it is testing out what I call, "Your Happiness Hypothesis", your own personal algorithm can help minimize some of our own expectations. Create an equation (just like the dating sites) that includes the elements that you absolutely require (fixed variable) and the elements that you think you want (random variable). Focus just on characteristics, qualities and life desires." In other words, know what your deal-breakers are and what you're looking for and don't waste your time.
But first you have to realize you're burning out, so here are the signs to look out for:
Dating is supposed to add to your life, not take away. "Online dating fatigue occurs as early as three consecutive months.," Silva says. "After nine months, 65 percent reported it feeling like a full-time job or habitual. It’s time to put the app away, if you start feeling like you’re putting in work hours into an app and still feeling frustrated with not finding your partner." You're just not going to be in a good headspace to meet anyone that way. Take a step back.
I know, I know. It's great to get that fun endorphin rush every time you get a match. And it can feel like you're actually being proactive about meeting someone and "putting yourself out there". But if you're just swiping and not chatting to anyone, it may be time to take a break until you can be more productive.
"60 percent of millennials reported feeling FOMO as one of the primary reasons they were overactive online daters," Silva says. But what do they fear missing out on? That depends on the person.
"Women expressed feeling FOMO about not having a significant other more than men," she says. "Men expressed feeling FOMO about not having as much sex as they’d like to have." But either way, it's not enough reason to be looking for someone.
At some point you may just be going on dates for the sake of going on them. But here's the thing — more bad dates with people you were never going to spark with anyway can just leave you feeling more down.
"Don’t force fit someone into your life because you are experiencing online dating fatigue," Silva says. "The process of several serial dates with people that you lack chemistry with or experience rejection from people that you think are potential candidates can be very frustrating and result in online dating fatigue. But, don’t let the fatigue inform who you choose."
According to Silva's research, fatigue can set in as early as three months and by month four many users are downloading multiple apps to search different data bases. But if you're just opening one app after the other and going back and forth, it's not really progress.
If you're reached dating app burnout, it's going to affect the dates you go on. If you find yourself feeling like the dates are a chore and you get a knot in your stomach when you think about them, it's time to take a step back and give yourself some air.
Look, everyone can get ghosted, benched or breadcrumbed, but if you have eight different potential dates who are all messing you around, it's time to wake up. Silva found that 80 percent of millennials had experienced it and, at some point, it starts to get you down.
Take an effing break. If you feel like you're getting fatigued, you can always have a detox. They are still going to be there when you get back. Try meeting people in real life and then you can mix dating apps back in when you feel ready. But when you do mix them back in, make sure that you're still working toward real life contact. "If you haven’t gone on a date after a lengthy back and forth, cut it off," Silva says. "Two things are happening to you while you don’t meet IRL: 1) you are creating a false reality about who is behind the device and 2) you are delaying your own happiness by dealing with someone that isn’t on the same page." It's not worth it.
If you feel like you have dating app fatigue, you're definitely not alone. That's why App-less April may be exactly what you need. Then you can phase them back in if you feel like. But having a healthy, smart relationship with dating apps is the only way to use them effectively — and it's what you deserve.