So, it's been a while since you've been on a date — or maybe it's just been a while since you were on a good date and felt like you were actually making progress in your love life. You want a relationship, but you feel like you just can't get there — and that's one of the signs you're in a dating rut. It's like you know what you want, but you're not really doing anything to get there, maybe because it's stressful or maybe because you just don't know how.
To find out more about dating ruts and how to get out of them, I reached out to Fran Greene, professional relationship coach and author of Dating Again with Courage & Confidence. One thing Greene tells Elite Daily is that it doesn't matter who you are or where you are in life — no one is immune to falling into a dating rut.
"No matter what stage of life you're in, your heart doesn't change that much," Greene says. "It really doesn't. If you think back to when you were 16, or if you're 25, the feelings are the same. It's just some of your goals are different."
The good news is, even if you relate to all of the signs below, you can still totally get back into the swing of things — you just need a little motivation to take action and put yourself out there more.
1. You rationalize not dating.
The first sign that you're in a dating rut is that you keep rationalizing to yourself that dating isn't important and focusing on other things, like your career or your hobbies, even though you know you want a romantic relationship, too.
"You make tons of excuses to yourself, but deep down inside, you know that you want to date," Greene says. "And it's not so much that you want to date—you want to find someone."
2. You feel jealous of other people's relationship milestones.
Another way you can tell you're in a dating rut? When you find yourself feeling jealous of your friends when they hit different dating milestones, whether it's that they're meeting someone new or moving in together or getting married.
"When your first emotion is a knot in your stomach, rather than complete joy for that person, that is a great indicator that you're in a dating rut," Greene says.
3. You do all the right things... but not really.
A big sign is that you tell yourself you're doing all the right things and that you're putting yourself out there, but you're not actually doing much of anything and you're not even really engaging with people when you have the chance.
"You go to the singles events, you are swiping right, you're on maybe a dating site or two, but you do all the wrong things," Greene says. "You either do nothing, or you go from one profile to the next to the next to the next and don't take any action."
4. You're not taking advantage of going out with single friends.
"You used to have a whole group of single friends, and you'd go out and do things — even if it wasn't single-oriented, it was such an adventure," Greene says. "You'd talk to the people at the next table or while you were waiting on line, and it's like you've turned that switch off."
This gets tougher when it feels like all of your friends are paired off or married, of course. But, if you still have single friends whose company you enjoy and you're not taking advantage of that when you are being social, that can contribute to being in a dating rut for sure.
5. You feel like you've lost hope.
If you feel like you've basically just given up, that's the biggest red flag of all. You might want to find a relationship, but you don't believe in yourself and you're not putting your best self forward.
"I think the biggest sign is when you've lost your hope, you don't care about the way you look as much as you did previously," Greene says. "It's like all of a sudden, nothing matters."
6. You're shying away from social invitations.
Another major sign of being in a dating rut is when you start turning down social invitations, whether it's to go to parties or weddings or any event where you might actually have a shot at meeting new people.
"You're on a dating upswing when you see every social opportunity as a possibility to meet somebody," Greene says. "It's when you start shying away from things because you always feeling less-than [that it's a problem]."
7. You're not being selective about who you date.
On the other hand, you might actually be going on multiple dates — but the problem is, you want a meaningful connection but you're not going on meaningful dates, or being selective about who you go out with. Those two things just don't add up.
If you'll go out with people you know you're not all that interested in just to go on a date and think "it's better to have any date than no date," that's definitely a sign, Greene explains.
So, now what?
The biggest thing to remember is that in order to get out of your dating rut, you need to have the right attitude.
"First of all, being single is not a fatal disease, so [don't have] that mindset," Greene says. And beyond that, it's about taking action and being patient with yourself.
"Anything that's important enough takes time, effort, resilience, and perseverance," Greene explains. If you want something bad enough, you have to come up with a plan."
Greene says she encourages the women she works with to follow a 60-day action plan, where every day they do something that will bring them closer to their goal of meeting someone by doing things like making small talk with strangers. Basically, you want to be putting yourself out there a little bit every day and challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone.
Greene also encourages people to join two different dating sites or apps, one a more mainstream site, and another that's more niche and appeals to your specific interests and what you're looking for. She also suggests coming up with a personal quota for responding to or sending a certain number of messages per day or per week.
"Whatever number is doable — I really encourage people to come up with a daily quota [so] you are called to action on a daily basis, but it's whatever works for you," Greene says.
Greene also says people looking to put themselves out there should definitely consider using their social media to meet people romantically.
"Whether it's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — although they're not dating platforms, they are certainly ways to meet people," Greene says, adding that you can DM people or even post a status about looking to meet new people.
The key, Greene says, is not hiding that you're single — you want to let people (your friends, your family, your overall circle of people you know) know that you're looking to date and meet new people. You should also try things you might normally not do, like going to speed-dating events or even making the first move when you see someone you might be interested in.
And on top of it all, it's also important to reframe the way you think of rejection, and try to enjoy every small step (even if, as Greene points out, dating and putting yourself out there can feel like a second job) and think of it an adventure as you go.
"Think about [how] every 'No' gets you closer to 'Yes,'" Green says. "Anybody who comes into your life, you have something to gain from them — even if it's knowing what you don't want."
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!