Online dating burnout

Dating in 2022: do you have online dating burnout? We talked to experts about why it happens and what to do about it

Burnout has become something of a national epidemic. Over the past few years, thousands of people have become physically and mentally exhausted by work. But what if work isn’t the only thing that can lead to burnout? It turns out that many of us are experiencing burnout from online dating, too. 

Burnout is one of those terms that has been tossed around a lot lately. Most of us probably already know the general concept: when work and life become too much, the body goes into a state of stress and panic, leading to feelings of exhaustion or burnout

Usually, we talk about burnout in relation to toxic hustle culture in the workplace; however, according to Mental Health UK, we can also experience burnout due to financial pressures, social isolation, physical health concerns and strains on our relationships. A new study shows that we can even experience burnout due to the pressures of summer

According to new research from several dating apps, there’s now another new type of burnout in town: online dating burnout. We spoke with a few dating experts to find out more about why we’re all so burnt out from the online dating world and what we can do about it.

What is online dating burnout, anyway?

New research from dating app Badoo has found that an increasing number of Brits are feeling exhausted by disappointments in the online dating world

78% of daters claimed that they had been consistently matched with incompatible partners, which ultimately led to stress. These failed dates cost UK daters an average of £285 a year. In other words, consistently bad online dating experiences don’t just lead to disillusionment – they also lead to very real financial pressures, too.

Another source of online dating burnout seems to be a general sense that finding real, deep connections online simply isn’t working. 31% said that they struggled to express their real intentions on dating apps as they feared being judged. Plus, a staggering 82% claimed that they wished they could be more honest online.

All of this only confirms other dating studies. A Hinge study found that 61% of daters feel overwhelmed by modern dating. A 2022 US study similarly found that 80% of daters feel “some degree of emotional fatigue or burnout from online dating”.

It’s clear that the constant cycle of endless scroll followed by disappointment is leading many of us to the point of debilitating stress and burnout. 

Why does online dating burnout happen?

“Online dating burnout typically comes about when you repeatedly experience this problem: the person you are chatting to and feel you have a connection with, ultimately turns out to want something else,” Remy Le Fevre, global head of communications at Badoo tells us.

But online dating isn’t just tiring because it can lead to consistent disappointment and confusion — there are other reasons why the constant swiping can burn us out.

According to dating expert Ness Cooper, one of the main reasons is that online dating can lead us to create two conflicting personas: one that we present in the real world, and one that we present online.

“It can be hard to bring different types of relationships together when you’re dating online, such as forming a bridging connection between the persona you use to date online and the persona you use with friends and family,” she says. Trying to keep your two personas on the go can lead to stress and, after a while, signs of burnout.

Online dating can also lead to exhaustion because of a lack of boundaries. “With online dating being available 24 hours a day it can be harder to restrict boundaries,” Cooper says. “Some really enjoy the dopamine hit from getting a positive comment when searching dating sites. And while dopamine addiction isn’t a real addiction, it can still lead to compulsive habits that can add to stress.”

Watch out for these tell-tale signs

Think you’re experiencing burnout because of your online dating habits? Cooper suggests that signs to look out for include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • A lack of motivation
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling conflicted regarding boundaries
  • Confusion over offline and online personalities 

So you have online dating burnout – what should you do?

While you may be tempted to remove yourself from your phone altogether,  this isn’t always practical. Instead, Cooper suggests setting boundaries with your dating apps. “Making sure you have a healthy sleep routine rather than sleeping with your tech can be very helpful as you can keep yourself rested rather than waking to check in on things that can disrupt your sleep,” she notes. “Disrupted sleep means you’re more prone to burnout too.”

Another way to reduce your online dating burnout is to change your approach to online dating altogether. While it can be scary, try to be honest in your dating profile and look for honesty from potential partners. This way, you’ll be less likely to exhaust yourself with endless unsuccessful dates.

“If you’re starting out dating and feel that you want to know more from someone rather than just read profile information, take the time to ask questions and encourage them to ask questions too,” says Cooper. “This can help you both to get to know each other on a more personal level.”

“Invest in the time you spend looking through people’s profiles instead of mindlessly scrolling during ad breaks on the sofa,” adds Le Fevre. “You’ll find that extra bit of focus goes a long way.”

If you find yourself becoming stressed at the prospect of another bout of swiping, it’s OK to take a step back. “Really think about what you want – it’s important to be honest and upfront about what you want, as it’ll allow you to get there quicker,” Le Fevre says. And, if you need a break from online dating, take it. 

“Exploring other forms of dating may be helpful for you,” adds Cooper. “But keep in mind all dating has emotional risks and rewards.”

While burnout can be caused by just about any pressure in your life, online dating burnout is certainly on the rise. So, while it can be a fantastic tool, it’s important to set your own boundaries and make sure you’re approaching the process the right way – otherwise, you may find the steady stream of bad matches really does burn you out.

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