This Hack Makes Dating Feel Fun Again When You're Kinda Burnt Out

by Annie Foskett

When it comes to dating, I usually find myself in one of four camps: happily dating someone, unhappily dating someone, not dating anyone at all, or going on a bunch of first dates. Actually, that last one is a new concept for me. I live in New York, and until last year, I had never dated the way many New Yorkers date — going on one date a week, multiple dates a week, or even a night. Lately, I've actually started to feel burnt out from dating. So much blow-drying! So many weekday margaritas!

My dating fatigue is entirely my own fault: last fall, I decided to embark on 51 dates for a podcast. Yes, 51 — and yes, I am on date 21. (If I meet "the one," I'll stop and recruit a single friend to take over.) The majority of the dates I have gone on have been rays of sunshine compared to the horror stories our listeners send in. One email recounted a man who hit a dog with his car on a first date. Woof. (Insensitive pun semi-intended.)

However, I can honestly say that I'm actually a fan of tiring yourself out by dating a lot. Going on a date a week has changed my perspective on relationships and my own self-worth forever. It's like interviewing — the more you do it, the less each interview matters. Dating more has shifted my "why aren't I enough?" perspective to "it's just a date, if it doesn't work out it's not my fault."

If you want to meet someone, then I am on Team GO ON MORE DATES. That said, managing dating apps is essentially a part-time job. Planning around work and friend and family commitments is difficult. Skipping yoga on Tuesday night for a drink with a dud more than once definitely gets frustrating. So how do you push forward and get yourself to go on actual dates when it feels like a chore?

I spoke to dating expert Meredith Golden of SpoonmeetSpoon about how to avoid feeling burnt out. (Going on a date a week had not made me an expert — I'm still very much a lost puppy in this field.) "Since singles need to put their best foot forward when they're meeting new people, feeling burnt out doesn’t help," explains Golden. But don't worry, she has a tangible way for you to keep going on dates without being bummed out about them.

"Downgrade your dates to coffee [or] tea meetings during the work day — close to your office for convenience — until you get your mojo back," says Golden. "It’s easier to meet briefly during the day because you have the excuse of needing to get back to work." Golden explains that if you don't feel sparks early on in the date, you can exit daytime beverages more easily than drinks or dinner. You also won't feel like you're committing an entire night to a stranger.

I've personally never been one for day dates, so I would add that in order to avoid fatigue at night, you can set an early after-work drink date with the caveat that you have dinner with a friend later. Or, if you don't want to be a liar, just be honest with your date. After the first drink, say something like, "I've really loved meeting you, but I have an early morning tomorrow." Then follow up with a text if you liked your date a lot to reaffirm your interest.

Based on my own experience, I would also recommend you set a reasonable goal that you can hold yourself accountable to when it comes to going on dates. That is, only if you still feel like getting out there and meeting someone! No shame in being happily independent.

You don't have to start a podcast, or commit to a date a week, but maybe you can start with one date a month. Then you won't feel like you are quitting the dating scene completely, but you also won't feel like you are letting it overtake your life either. At the end of the day, dating is a thing we do to find a person so that we never have to date again, but don't forget that dating can also be fun.

I'd encourage you all to get out there, push through the fatigue, and keep an open mind. Going on 21 dates have taught me that there are a lot of good people worth taking a night off from watching Netflix for, and even the worst dates make for great stories. Get yourself out there!