This might be unfair, but there are few dating app questions I hate more than, "So, what are you looking for here?" It's just such a loaded question, and one I can hardly answer before I've had the chance to interact with a person in real life. I mean, I don't know, Daryl — maybe I'm looking for a few drinks and a good time? Maybe I'm looking for the future father of my children? Maybe I'm looking for someone to help me escape the feeling of being burnt out by dating apps? There are just so many ways this could go, bro.
The real answer, of course, is that I'm looking for a spark: A connection with someone, in one form or another. And it's impossible to determine whether or not that spark exists if you're swiping through dating apps out of sheer obligation — "obligaswiping," if you will — rather than with the goal of meeting someone IRL. Because regardless of the kind of date or relationship you may be after, you should be after something if you're swiping at all. Otherwise, you're really just wasting your own time as well as everyone else's.
"Obligaswiping is a chronic issue and I see it all the time!" says Meredith Golden, dating expert and founder of SpoonmeetSpoon. "It usually manifests in one of three ways. One, the single is bored and swiping to fill a short burst of time but isn't really engaging in the process. Two, the single becomes overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options and ditches the project altogether. Three, the single is swiping in order to get an ego boost."
TBH, I've been there (in all three scenarios) as well. I'll enthusiastically download a dating app, maybe even update my photos and bio (if I'm feeling wild!), and, within a few hours or days, inevitably become bored with the monotonous small talk and matches at my fingertips. It's a slippery slope.
If you've recently found yourself lost and bemused in the swiping hustle, you may want to rethink your approach. Here are three ways to revamp your life in the world of dating apps (with purpose, intention, and energy to boot!).
Like everything in life, dating apps are best used in moderation. If you're spending every waking hour aimlessly swiping and scrolling through strangers' profiles, of course you're going to get burnt out.
Instead of swiping when you're bored or tired or waiting for your happy hour drinks to arrive, set limits and timeframes around your dating app activity.
"The good news is, dating apps work!" explains Golden. "It’s just a matter of figuring out how much time you can actually devote to them so that you can successfully meet someone without becoming overwhelmed by the process and avoid the perils of dating fatigue... If 10 minutes a day is all you can do, five minutes in the morning and another five at night, it's OK to keep it at 10 minutes a day... Literally, set the timer on your phone and treat it like the treadmill." (P.S. See how that workout analogy comes into play?)
Once you've got some goals and limits or time frames in place, it's time to cut out all of the extra noise — i.e. all of those random dating app chats you're half-in and half-out at any given moment.
"If there are no plans are on the horizon after one week of banter, delete the [match]," advises Golden. "A cluttered inbox with many ongoing and spotty old messages is distracting, annoying, and stressful. It's better to only have 5 active conversations than 500 ‘wassup’ messages lingering."
If the person on the other end of the chat is dodging your attempts to make solid plans, it could mean they're obligaswiping themselves, or they might even be breadcrumbing you. Either way, they're definitely not worth the time and energy if there's no potential of meeting up.
"The ultimate goal of the dating app is to get you to meet," Golden says. "The stimulating conversation should happen IRL."
At the end of the day, if you're tired of swiping and sighing your way through the apps, reflect on the way you've been using them. Chances are, if you're feeling truly burnt out and never find yourself on actual, real-life dates, you might be using the apps incorrectly.
"The good news is, dating apps work!" says Golden. "It’s just a matter of figuring out how much time you can actually devote to them so that you can successfully meet someone without becoming overwhelmed by the process and avoid the perils of dating fatigue."
Good luck and godspeed, fellow swipers.