How To Take A Break From Online Dating, For Reals
Online Dating Can Be Soul Crushing
Yup, what was initially exhilarating and filled you with hope and certainty that your one-and-only was just one more OKCupid search away, has faded into a soul crushing fatigue.
Any of the following sound familiar?
- Entire evenings wasted, searching for fresh blood on your dating apps--and gradually expanding your geographic searches to encompass 25, then 50, and finally, a 100 mile radius?
- Compulsively refreshing your inboxes and apps for invitations or responses to your messages?
- Despairing that your dates are often people who are either using photos from another era, or bear little resemblance to the person sitting across from you?
- Yet another coffee date spent listening to complaints about their ex, or whining about how they can't seem to make it past the first date?
- The realization that you're not quite over the disappointment of a recent ending to a new online relationship and everyone pales by comparison?
When you start to hear The Talking Heads resounding in your head, you may ask yourself if it's time to take a dating break; a breather from what can start to feel less like a self-affirming investment in yourself, and more like an exhausting part-time job.
We know: we've been there, and it's not easy, but it's do-able and it's worthwhile.
Here's How To Cut (Temporarily) The Ties That Bind
Step One: Disable the app, Forrest! Put your membership on the deep freeze without deleting the account. Take it off your phone, unless doing so will delete your whole account. On the other hand, consider deleting your account after saving the good parts of your profile and maybe some screen names of those you've been coveting from afar.
Step Two: Set a time frame. By setting a reasonable parameter, you ensure that you aren't tempted to cave too early, and really allow the break to settle in. Maybe you want to take a break while on vacation, or until after the holiday, or for a month, or more. Write yourself a little reminder on your phone notepad about why you're doing this, so that if you're tempted to dive in again after a few too many cocktails, you'll remember why this is your time, to re-focus on other things, namely yourself.
Step Three: Studies show that breaking a habit successfully incorporates the use of replacement activities, or by filling in the space with a new action. An example would be every time your hand instinctively reaches for the Bumble or Tinder apps, re-direct your quaking finger to Twitter, or better yet, update on the news, look at Yelp, or to your Kindle app to read a few pages of your newest book. Whatever you think would help fill the niche, do it.
Step Four: Not to get all cheesy on you, but keep in mind that this "dating cleanse" offers an opportunity to really focus on yourself. That can mean getting yourself back to your workout routine, or yoga class on a Friday night, and re-connecting with your single or married friends on the weekends, which you used to reserve as prime time for dating. Maybe you actually can allow yourself an entire month of hanging with friends, or solo evenings spent on resting, or stuff you love, which makes you more you, like playing your guitar, going to the movies, updating your Etsy site, going to a Meetup, or making next season's ComicCon costume.
Re-Enter Refreshed and Refocused
By the time your specified hiatus is complete, you should be able to re-open those dating apps with a fresh set of eyes and a more productive attitude. Consider re-tooling your profile and add new photos, change your screen name.
Try not to enter every new date with the expectation that this could be your soul mate. That's a lot of pressure on you, and on them. Instead, enter curious, with sense of adventure, and practice really listening, or honing conversation skills.
Here's the most important part: Don't let this one, albeit admittedly large, part of your life take over the way it did before. Consider checking your apps twice a day instead of constantly. This has the double advantage of keeping you focused on living your present day life, as well as showing the potential date that you're not sitting around just waiting for love.
And by the way? It's really okay to say "No, thanks" to offers, or offers to go out again, without a million excuses or reasons. Whether it's simply a no-chemistry situation, or dating whiners, just give them 20 minutes, and let them know that you need to take off, and thank them for their time. If they ask, tell them it didn't feel like the right match. If you're feeling generous, you can suggest to them that it's hard to hear re-hashing of old relationships, or whatever the issue is, but you are under no obligation to be a therapist, or give them a play-by-play of what went wrong.
Enter, Stage Right.