‘Dating Burnout Is Real, It Happened to Me’

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In 2014, several dating apps gained a lot of attention in the U.K. I had read that Tinder was as an up-and-coming cool dating app. I was excited to use it because I wanted to have fun dating experiences; I wasn’t looking for anything serious, I just wanted to casually meet women.

When I first downloaded the app, I really enjoyed it. When I messaged people, I was honest and direct with my intentions straight away. It seemed that many others also wanted to date casually too.

A month after joining a few dating apps, I was speaking with six to 10 different people a day. The conversations were humorous and some were interesting and educational. Sometimes, I would go on a date a few days after speaking with someone, and other times, I would see them on the same day that I had started speaking with them.

I loved the attention that I was receiving online. Every time I matched with somebody new, I felt very happy. It was so easy to meet people; I felt that it was almost the equivalent to getting likes on an Instagram photo. I got a dopamine boost every time somebody matched with me.

Alex Douglas Experienced Dating Burnout
Alex Douglas (pictured) first downloaded dating apps in 2014.
Alex Douglas

My experience dating a lot of people

I began casually dating a lot of people and on some occasions, I would meet three women on a Saturday. Ahead of time, I came up with a plan which typically involved having brunch in the morning, an activity at midday, and a dinner date in the evening. I was often transparent, and would tell some of these women that I was seeing other people. They, too, would say that they had other dates scheduled in.

Out of habit, I soon began going on dates for the sake of it because I liked the attention that I was getting. I would invite somebody to do even the smallest activities with me, such as running, and although it was productive, it was eating into the time that I would usually spend with my friends, my family, or at work. I became relentless in using dating apps. I felt like it became addictive.

I had perfected the dating process in terms of saying and doing the right things in order to be desired by somebody. For example, on a first date, I knew that somebody was flirting with me through the way that they would smile excessively or play with their hair. Beneath the surface, I was genuine with a lot of the people that I was dating, though I mainly just liked the attention that I was getting.

But at one point, I felt like dating became like a job interview. It was very systematic for me. I was used to asking the same questions in order to understand what the person that I was speaking to wanted, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies and their outlook on life.

At first, it was exciting, but then I became desensitized. On a few occasions, I found myself being overwhelmed by having to plan several dates with different people. It felt laborious and tedious; it was also overwhelming because some people kept changing their minds. I found myself getting frustrated quickly.

On one specific date, I zoned out because I found that the questions that were being asked were very formulaic, because I had dated so many people in a very short period of time. I only wanted to have fun, but it seemed that I was becoming burnt out by the repetitive nature of dating.

During my dates, people would ask me, “Did you hear what I just said?” or “Are you concentrating?” I’d politely apologise and say that I was tired.

Because I was speaking to so many people, I couldn’t put my phone down. I was constantly scrolling through dating apps, to the point where one of my friends told me that I was distracted.

I felt like there was a battle going on within because I wanted a dopamine fix, but my attention span couldn’t handle speaking to so many people at the same time anymore.

Alex Douglas Experienced Dating Burnout
Alex Douglas (pictured) began experiencing dating burnout in 2014.
Alex Douglas

I realized that having your time constantly interrupted throughout your day can really change your way of thinking, your mental health, and your ability to concentrate.

In hindsight, I realize now that the main burnout symptom that I was experiencing at the time was a very short concentration span, constantly feeling very unhappy and not in control of my life.

I started to feel displeased with myself for going through such a monotonous process over and over again for the dopamine fix. I slowly found myself having to tell a few people that dating them was too much for me.

Reflecting on my actions

During the Christmas period in 2015, I turned my phone off on Christmas day so that I could spend time with my family. The fact that I struggled to do so, shocked me. It’s a tradition for me to not have my phone with me on Christmas day, but that year felt different. I was so used to constantly speaking to multiple people, so I felt uncomfortable.

Throughout the day, I began to reflect. I realized that I was somewhat addicted to dating apps and ignoring the fact that I was very overwhelmed and burnt out at the same time. Although it felt weird to not be on my phone, it also felt good to not have to speak to so many people.

Alex Douglas Experienced Dating Burnout
Alex Douglas would sometimes go on three dates in a day, until he realized that he was burnt out. Stock Image.
Getty Images

I knew that I didn’t want to continue dating casually. Before Christmas, I had a conversation with another friend who told me that they hadn’t seen me as much as they used so, so I realized that I had become distant from my friends and family, too.

Following that Christmas, I decided to stop using dating apps. For the first few weeks, it was difficult, but I began filling my time with other things. In 2014, I became a fitness instructor and after quitting dating apps, I began exercising more and taking on other clients. I also spent more time with my friends and family.

A few months after that, I realized that I was doing things more mindfully rather than rushing through life. I began to enjoy meeting with friends and I was not as distracted anymore. Getting back into a healthy rhythm without feeling overwhelmed also helped me.

Currently, I’m enjoying working as a personal trainer. I also starting my own business whereby I am a voiceover artist. Looking back, I realize that I should have capped the amount of dates that I had within a week. But now, I am very disciplined with the way that I manage my time. Following the pandemic, I began dating again, but a healthier amount.

Alex Douglas is a personal trainer and a voice-note artist for sexual wellness. You can find out more about him here.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

As told to Newsweek associate editor, Carine Harb.

Do you have a unique experience or personal story to share? Email the My Turn team at myturn@newsweek.com

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