“I’m done,” Devon (name has been changed) said over our Zoom session one afternoon.
“Why is that?” I asked, and then I listened quietly as he gave me his litany of reasons why he felt fed up, exhausted, and just done with today’s modern dating field.
Over the past couple of years, as I’ve coached both men and women individually and as couples, I’ve heard an uptick in these reasons more and more, so I wasn’t surprised that a recent Reddit thread went viral over the topic. This thread closed after it’d received over 6000 comments, all of which follow certain threads that I’ll highlight below.
While it’s perfectly fine to give up on dating temporarily, if your ultimate goal is to find a long-term romantic partner, we can’t remain stuck in this negative thinking forever.
Here are just a few reasons why men have cited that they’re “done” with modern dating as well as some action steps on how to overcome each of them.
1. It’s a lot of work.
While dating apps and social media have made it easier to access available single women, it also means much more time, energy, and even money to find a partner, see if they’ll match with you, see if your messages go anywhere, get a sense of your chemistry together, set up a date, and then go on the date to suss out if the other person is a good fit. “Dating math” means you’ll have a LOT more misses than hits.
“Swipe fatigue” or “dating app fatigue” is real, and women experience it themselves (back when I was online dating, I did too!).
One user on Reddit equated it to having a “part time job.” Another user said, “To be honest I’d just rather be a little lonelier than deal with all the hassle of dating; I’m really not in a place emotionally and financially where I can deal with sorting through a bunch of misses to find a missus.”
Yes, it’s difficult expending your time, energy, and money on dates that may not go anywhere. That’s why it can be helpful setting clear and healthy boundaries.
Healthy dating app boundaries can look like minimizing the amount of time you spend on apps, focusing on quality over quantity, and having other kind of restrictions (“I will only go on dates with women who are also looking for long-term relationships.” “I will only go on one date a ___(week, month, etc.).”).
Create a dating profile that clearly states what you want, so that you can assume that someone that swipes right on you has a sense of who you are. There’s no guarantee that someone will read your profile, but you can do your due diligence upfront and follow up once you match/start messaging to see if they have the qualities you’d actually want in a long-term romantic partner.
Instead of just swiping right on any and every attractive woman, work on being more intentional. Read their profiles and ask yourself, “Is this the kind of person I’d want to get to know more?” before swiping right.
Once you start messaging someone, again, focus on being intentional. While a simple “hey” might be easier/less time-consuming to send, it also means you’re saying to them the same thing that 30 other guys might. Instead, see if you can pull something from their profile or pictures that might be a good conversation starter, like, “I noticed you like to travel. What’s a place you can’t wait to visit again?”
If the conversation goes well, ask them on a date (you’d be surprised how FEW guys actually take the initiative to ask someone on a date and set it up).
If you feel like you’re running dry and not getting anywhere, take a break. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in taking care of yourself, but having healthy boundaries in place will hopefully mean that you’re not getting fatigued too much too soon.
2. There’s always someone “better” available.
Dating apps and social media have made finding a new partner easier than ever for everyone, and that can, of course, cause anxiety and insecurity in us. We may have trouble wanting to invest much time or effort into sustaining a relationship because we worry we’ll be used.
One user said, “So many women I’ve dated have abruptly broken things off because they found something more exciting. To the point where anytime I dated, it was just constant anxiety day-in and day-out because I was always living with the thought of, ‘Is today the day?’”
There’s never a guarantee that the person we’re dating won’t break up with us. But when we’re living in fear that a date or relationship won’t go well, we’re likely to ENCOURAGE that to happen by self-sabotaging.
Self-sabotaging in a relationship can look like telling ourselves, “Doesn’t matter what I do because she’ll probably break up with me anyway.” Those thoughts can turn into actions that can make our worries turn into realities.
According to research done by the Gottman Institute, the most successful relationships are when both partners respond to each other’s “bids for connection” about 87% of the time. “Bids for connection” are small ways your partner might reach out to you to connect. These are often small, like asking for a hug or for your help on something or wanting to tell you about their day.
But because you’ve been telling yourself that “she’ll break up with me no matter what I do,” you may ignore her bids for connection. You may brush them off, say you’re busy, give clipped replies, etc. If that happens often enough, your partner will notice.
Your partner may try to talk to you about it, but if you’re already in the habit of ignoring and/or not putting in much effort or energy, their talk may not be enough to make you change. Then, your partner will get fed up and break up with you, and that will just reinforce your own thinking of, “Why should I bother? They’ll just break up with me no matter what I do.”
A better way to approach any kind of relationship is to ask ourselves, “What can I do to make the most of this presently? She may not be with me forever, but what I can learn while I’m in this relationship to make myself a better future romantic partner? What could I do to make sure I don’t have any regrets moving forward?”
3. Women’s standards are too “high.”
One user said, “…people…conveniently hold themselves to extremely low standards but feel entitled to the best.”
This is a refrain I’ve heard again and again. “She expects me to make $______(large amount of money) or look like ____ (some super hot, in shape celebrity) or treat her like _____ (a queen, etc.), but she _____ (some description that she’s not so great).”
Modern dating has changed a LOT of things for men. While men held power in the dating realm for a very long time, that’s just not the case anymore. Women couldn’t even open their own bank accounts in every state in the US until the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974. For CENTURIES, having a husband was the only way a woman and her children might be taken care of.
Women can provide for themselves today, so they don’t have to settle for having a partner that JUST provides for them financially. They can — and should — select partners that can be their teammates, meaning they show up emotionally as well as in unpaid labor tasks (taking care of the home and/or children).
Today, women hold the power on dating apps. On nearly every dating app, the male users outnumber the women. In terms of simple economics, women are in high demand and low supply.
What happens when something is in high demand and low supply? The price goes up. In terms of dating, the “price” correlates to “standards,” as in because women dating app users are in much higher demand than their male counterparts, they can choose to have high standards because they’re the ones being competed over.
When something is in high demand and low supply, psychologically we often want it more, but…is it actually a good fit for us?
Just because there aren’t as many women on dating apps as men doesn’t mean you have to just “take what you can get.” You can set standards for yourself, and ask yourself questions like, “Does this person have the kind of qualities I would want in a long-term romantic partner? Do I like them?”
There’s nothing that will ruin our self-esteem more than being rejected or dumped by someone we didn’t even like all that much. So prioritize finding partners that are truly a good fit for you, not just settling for whomever you can “get.”
Modern dating can be exhausting, tiring, and depressing (for all parties involved), but plenty of people (men included!) find happy, healthy, and meaningful relationships.
If you’re wanting a satisfying long-term relationship, don’t give up forever. Set boundaries, take breaks if needed, and focus on finding the right person instead of just any person.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Max Ilienerwise on Unsplash