Dating apps can serve as super valuable tools for finding love, and the special sauce is in the countless success stories. That said, they can also be downright draining, which is where self-care comes in. There are a slew of self-care practices for dating app users that can help you to stay positive, focused, and enthusiastic throughout all your swiping.
Self-care has certainly become a buzzy term in recent years, but what exactly does it entail? Does it mean slapping on a sheet mask or booking a massage, and calling it a day? According to The Oxford Dictionary, self-care is defined as "the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress." Between setting up your profile for success, trying to vet matches based on little information, keeping multiple conversations going, and dealing with some inevitable rejection, it's safe to say that using dating apps can be a tad stressful at times. The key to managing that stress and maintaining a healthy mindset throughout is making self-care a priority. By taking time to manage your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, you'll exude more self-confidence and energy on those dates, which could have a significant impact on your ability to attract the right person for you.
So, regardless of when, how, or why you're using dating apps, make it a point to adopt these self-care practices while swiping away to minimize stress while simultaneously boosting your success.
Establish your boundaries.
There are many different ways to approach using dating apps, so the important thing is to figure out what works for you — and then stick to it.
Some people like to take their convos offline ASAP, while others feel more comfortable chatting on the app for a couple of weeks before giving out their phone number. And while some may prefer to meet up IRL sooner rather than later, others may need a little more time to make that move.
Remember: There is no right or wrong pace. And clarifying your own comfort zone will help you to honor your boundaries throughout your dating app experiences. While you're at it, it can be helpful to make your boundaries known to your dates from the get-go. If someone is worth pursuing romantically, they'll respect your tempo.
Regularly recite positive affirmations.
Using dating apps comes with plenty of perks — as well as potential disappointments. One of your matches may not message you back, or someone you thought you had a killer date with could ghost you out of nowhere. Fortunately, saying the right affirmations can help you to shake off rejection, as well as other negative experiences. Moreover, this practice can help you to avoid pessimistic thoughts about dating, and adopt a more positive mindset overall.
Finding the perfect affirmations for your specific situation is an individual process, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
"My dating experiences don't define me — I define my dating experiences."
"I don't need to change for anyone else — I am lovable exactly the way I am."
"I treat others the way I want to be treated — with respect, kindness, and compassion."
Journal about your experiences.
Make time for self-reflection while you're using dating apps. Every single interaction offers an opportunity for finding out more about yourself, others, and dating in general, and putting your thoughts onto paper can help you to take advantage of those learning experiences.
What you journal about is up to you. You could use this space to unleash your frustrations, express gratitude, make a list of what you're looking for, jot down some quick observations from a date, or reflect on why you weren't compatible with someone. Regardless of what you write about, taking a few minutes each week or day for this exercise can help to relieve some stress and perhaps even provide valuable insight that helps you to use your apps more strategically.
Try some pre-date meditations.
Meditation can work wonders for navigating some of the emotional challenges that come with dating — particularly in regards to anxiety. To be clear, it's totally natural to have some nerves before a first date, or while you're waiting for your match to text back. But when those anxious thoughts become all-consuming, they suck the pleasure out of dating, as well as prevent you from being present with another person.
Even meditating for just five to 10 minutes every day can make a massive difference in freeing up your mental space. You might even consider meditating right before you go on a date so you can stay in the moment and focus on what matters: enjoying yourself, getting to know your date, and assessing whether or not you're a good fit.
Take yourself on dates.
While using dating apps, be careful of allowing yourself to believe that you need someone else to have fun. One self-care practice that can help you to avoid this mindset is scheduling some dates with yourself. Every week or two weeks, plan something satisfying to do that doesn't involve anyone else — whether it's cooking a gourmet dinner for one, going out for a tasting at that new wine bar downtown, organizing a spa night at home, or holing up at the local library to plow through some reading material.
This simple act of self-care shows you that you can have fun on your own, so there's less pressure to find "the one."
Set some healthy limits around your swiping.
Dating apps can be downright overwhelming, because they present a sea of seemingly never-ending options. While it can be exciting to see just how many prospects are (literally) right at your fingertips, it may also feel a bit draining at times to keep up a handful of conversations at once or go on multiple dates with different people in the same week.
In order to avoid dating app burnout, consider setting some limits for yourself. That might mean that you designate a certain time of day for your apps (like on your AM work commute, or after dinner), as well as establish a time limit for how long you can swipe. And if you have trouble sticking to these parameters, you can download a productivity app that restricts your use of dating apps after a designated amount of time each day.
Have check-ins with yourself.
Be careful of focusing so much on wondering what your date thinks or wants that you forget to pay attention to your thoughts, needs and desires. Because it's all too easy to ignore signs or gut feelings when you're caught up in all the excitement.
So, whenever someone has made an impact on you — whether they've caught your attention in a positive or a negative way — take some time to check in with yourself. What was it about this person that stood out? Were there any red flags you missed? Did your first impression hold up, or did they surprise you in a good way? Did they do anything that made you uncomfortable — and if so, why do you think it bothered you? Answering these hard-hitting questions will not only ensure that you put your own well-being first, but also that you come away from each and every meaningful dating experience with some newfound wisdom.