With so many options ― and so few meaningful connections ― it’s easy to see how looking for love on Tinder and other similar apps could become demoralizing.
We swipe indiscriminately, losing out on potentially great matches just because photos were so-so or a profile didn’t include the right words. The snap judgments often continue when we meet in real life; some research has suggested that the act of rating and comparing people in advance actually makes them seem less attractive when you do meet.
Dating coach and image consultant Neely Steinberg says many of her clients talk about feeling burnt out by dating apps.
“Even if you do meet someone great, there may be a voice in the back of your head saying, ‘Well, maybe there’s someone even better,’” she said. “It can be hard to really focus on the person in front of you, who may indeed be a good match.”
If you’re feeling similarly meh about your matches, it may be time to take a Tinder timeout. Below, Steinberg and other dating experts share five signs you need a break.
1. You don’t want to do online dating, but you keep telling yourself you have to or you’ll never meet anyone.
Anything less than a cautiously optimistic attitude isn’t going to get you far when it comes to dating. And looking for a partner should never feel like a part-time job, said Alysha Jeney, a therapist and the owner of Modern Love Counseling.
“It’s a bad sign if you don’t know why you are online dating in the first place,” she said. “I know that some of my clients feel exhausted by the online dating scene and can even lose the motivation to meet up with potential matches.”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a more measured approach. Turn off notifications and consider limiting yourself to a few apps you’ve had some success with ― or carve out a time once a week where you browse with a truly open mind.
2. You’re browsing Tinder after ― or worse, during ― your dates.
You definitely need to slow down if you’re covertly swiping the second your date heads to the bathroom, said Lori Zaslow, a Manhattan-based matchmaker and the co-founder of Project Soulmate.
“You don’t want to become desensitized when you meet new people,” she said. “You can’t make a real connection with someone if all of your dates blend together. When you’re always browsing, it makes it hard to build a real connection or give someone a chance.”
3. You’re scheduling multiple dates on one day.
You’re almost definitely in need of a Tinder timeout if you’re lining up dates one after another or accidentally double booking, Steinberg said. (Don’t be that guy from Washington, D.C., who went viral earlier this year when he scheduled six dates in one night and got caught doing it.)
“I’m all for dating multiple people, but at a measured pace ― maybe a couple of dates once a week, spread out,” she said. “You have to give each person a chance, not date compulsively without reflecting on their experiences.”
Speed dating is more likely to lead to a burnout than a legit romance, Steinberg said.
“It becomes less about meeting a great match and getting to know someone and more about, ’OK, who’s next?” she said. “I’d rather a client be steady about the dating process ― dating a handful of men each month consistently over a few months, for instance ― as opposed to dating a ton of men for a couple of weeks, burning out and then going through a drought for a few months.”
4. You grow a little more resentful after each date.
At this point, you feel so little chemistry with the strangers you’re meeting, you’re starting to feel resentful toward them for all the time, money and energy you’ve wasted. To nip your negativity in the bud, New York City-based matchmaker Fay Goldman says it’s best to call a dating app timeout.
“I often hear clients say that they don’t feel like anyone on these sites are really looking for a relationship ― that it’s just people looking for hookups, or just playing games,” she said. “Sometimes, there’s endless texting and they never even end up meeting in person.”
5. You’re swiping indiscriminately.
Give due consideration to each profile. If you’re too loose with your left swipes, you may not realize that the person mentions something you’re super into after just a few more lines. It’s even worse if you’re swiping right with reckless abandon; there may be some red flags in their bio you didn’t notice because you were too distracted by a shirtless selfie.
“Call a timeout if you start to swipe right on people just to get matches while ignoring your non-negotiable requirements,” Zaslow said. “You’re likely beginning to settle. Don’t ever lower your standards for someone just to get a match and a potential date.”
So what’s a gal or guy to do if some or all of those signs sound familiar?
It’s simple. Give Tinder a break and try meeting someone the old-fashioned way: face-to-face, like your parents most likely had to do. If that sounds intimidating, Zaslow recommends socializing without the expectation of it leading to romance.
“Go to every party or get-together that you are invited to, plan small get-togethers, join clubs, and talk to people at your local coffee shops or gym,” she said. “You have to take your headphones out, keep your head up tall and be confident to approach and meet new people on a daily basis.”
And if you really feel burned by your dating app experiences, don’t rule out a full dating break, where you focus solely on yourself for a while.
“Taking a short break and having a fresh start can be the best thing for a single person,” Zaslow said. “Focus on what makes you happy and stop worrying about planning your life around dates.”
The biggest advantage to a break? You’ll be more optimistic and approach dating with better energy.
“You’d be surprised at how having a better attitude and smiling translates to better, more successful dates,” Zaslow said.