Why it is so exhausting to look for love through dating apps

Andy Hong se siente como si estuviera conociendo a la misma mujer una y otra vez en las aplicaciones de citas online: mujer graduada de una pequeña escuela de Nueva Inglaterra que le gusta esquiar y practicar deporte.

The 28-year-old says he has no problem with these types of women, but says he’s not necessarily building a connection with any of them, and he knows there are all kinds of people out there that he could enjoy a relationship with. romantic.

You find repetition heavy, but the Hinge app keeps recommending like-minded people to you. “They target a guy, and they offer you a guy,” Hong, who lives in Boston, says of Hinge.

The experience has left Hong with what he calls “decision fatigue,” or as others call it: “dating app burnout . ”

Online dating, an exhausting experience?

It is a prevalent phenomenon in the world of online dating. People get tired of the endless potential options available in apps.

Many users get frustrated with the time they spend online compared to the time they spend dating for real.

“Desde una perspectiva de números puros, de unas 10 personas con las que hipotéticamente saldrías en citas, tendrás a lo mejor una conversación sólida con 7 u 8 de ellas”, dice Hong. “De esas 7 u 8, podrás terminar en una o 2 citas”.

However, today it’s hard for single people not to take on the world of digital dating: even though many know it’s hard and potentially disappointing work.

According to a 2019 study, online dating is now a much more likely way to meet than a casual encounter.

But it can have consequences: A recent survey by UK dating app Badoo showed that more than 75% of single people felt burnout after unrewarding interactions and inappropriate matches on platforms and apps.

Research by Hinge also found that a significant portion of its users (61%) currently feel overwhelmed by the dating process, with an April study revealing that four in five adults had “experienced some form of dating fatigue.” emotional or exhaustion from online dating.”

And yet, people continue to use online dating to find potential partners. It seems that no matter how bad the experience is, apps are still one of the easiest ways to meet people with romantic intentions in a world that is slowly moving to the web.

If people are going to stay on these dating apps, are there ways to mitigate the back-end work?

“So much to go through”

Put simply, dating app burnout refers to the tiredness that comes after prolonged use , says Nora Padison, a therapist in Baltimore.

There are basic signs to identify this type of fatigue: when a user associates negative feelings with dating apps; when the act of using the app and the dating process that follows leaves them exhausted; and when it feels like “a second job,” says Padison, who has led two “hip dating support groups” for adults ages 25 to 35.

According to research by Leah LeFebvre, an associate professor of communications studies at the University of Alabama, more than half of a group of 395 Tinder users she interviewed in 2017 had uninstalled the app multiple times .

In almost 40% of those cases, it was because the user had started a relationship. But 35% of participants said they ditched the app because they “felt unsuccessful.”

This means that “they had no answers, or matches, or potential partners or negative experiences,” LeFebvre told the BBC in an email. Some just got “bored” or “tired” of using the app; others found it “made no sense” — all symptoms of dating app burnout.

“I feel drained sometimes when I feel like I have to go through literally 100 people to find someone I find moderately interesting, or someone I’d like to at least talk to,” says Rosemary Guiser, a 32-year-old speech therapist based in Philadelphia, USA “It feels like there’s so much to go through.”

Guiser started using apps like Bumble and Hinge when he ended a relationship in January, though his first experience with dating apps was in 2013 and 2014 with OkCupid and Tinder. She says that she began to feel exhausted with the apps “almost immediately” from the time she opened them.

“The process of talking to someone, planning to meet them, then meeting them is time-consuming and labor-intensive,” Guiser says. Furthermore, he adds that he doesn’t like to chat on apps because those text conversations don’t offer a real insight into the other person.

“You can have a great conversation with someone, but then you meet them and within 10 seconds you realize that’s not a person you want to meet,” he says, which is a waste of time. It can also be an emotional disappointment to realize that the person who seemed like an ideal candidate online doesn’t exist in real life.

Design and behavior problems

The design of dating apps can also cause frustration for exhausted users.

Guiser grew tired of elements that would have made her app experience better requiring payment , something she chose not to do. For example, she said that the first thing she checks in a potential partner is her political beliefs. But on Bumble, she says, you have to pay to filter people based on these characteristics.

And since he’s not paying, “he has to go through dozens and dozens of people he wouldn’t give a second glance to.”

It can also be difficult to navigate multiple dating apps at the same time, but many use more than one because they feel it gives them a better chance of finding a partner. Jumping between the different interfaces can be a problem . “I got used to the interface of one, and then I go to the other and it’s like ‘oops, I just discarded someone I liked’ or ‘I just gave someone a super like when all I wanted was to see their photos,’” says Guiser.

And then there is the difficulty of interacting with potential partners. That part of the process opens up a whole other set of demotivating experiences, as many are inclined to act disrespectful online dating.

For example, a 2016 dating platform Plenty of Fish survey found that among 800 millennials dating, 80% had been ghosted in the process.

As there is a screen mediating the interactions between person and person, it is more difficult to see the person with whom they are communicating as a human being, they become more like characters in the online dating game, which makes it easier to deal with them in an inhuman way.

Women in particular face the ferocity of harassment on dating apps: 44% of users under the age of 35 have reported being insulted with an offensive word and 19% have reported receiving threats of physical harm, according to the center. of Pew research.

Dr Joan Orlando, an Australian-based researcher and author focused on digital wellbeing, says: “I think they play more with people online,” suggesting that not everyone using the apps is there to find a date.

Even those who are, can be cruel to others, either on purpose or simply because it’s too much work to treat everyone with comparable levels of humanity. Repeated mistreatment online can contribute to feelings of negativity and burnout with these apps.

Stay or take a break?

But even through fatigue, many, like Hong, stick with the apps.

“You could compare the apps a little bit to Amazon or Facebook,” Padison says, “in that because they’re so affordable, it’s become more of a habit” to use dating apps than to meet people in other ways, even if users aren’t thrilled with the platforms.

The Covid-19 pandemic, she added, has also accustomed people to online interactions, creating in many the need to scrutinize their suitors before meeting them in real life.

It’s also not easy meeting romantic partners in physical spaces, particularly for people who aren’t used to sitting in bars. Padison suggests finding group activities to meet people with similar interests, but that doesn’t always work. Hong, for example, says he joined a community garden, but “I’m the youngest there for decades…this is not the way I’m going to meet someone.”

Rather, he’s looking for ways to make the app dating experience more efficient: “I’m on the lookout for ‘red flags’ (comments or actions about someone that might be considered ‘alarming’), he says, learning to quickly identify aspects of a person’s profile that may show that she is not the one for him. But that in itself can be exhausting.

“Being constantly judging, looking for mines, that also tires the mind,” he says.

Bumble relationship expert Caroline West suggests taking apps more intentionally . “Most people on Bumble say they are now more up front with their matches about what they want,” she says.

He recommends that users limit themselves to connecting with two or three potential candidates at a time to focus on quality, rather than quantity . Bumble also has a tool to help fatigued users “put to sleep” their activity so they can take a break and let potential contacts know they’re doing it.

For some people, a break from dating is exactly what they need. Padison says he’s talked to some clients dealing with dating app burnout about ditching them altogether and taking some time to work on themselves.

Guiser has stopped using dating apps because he is now seeing someone. They are not in an exclusive relationship, so he can continue to search for other potential partners on the apps. But she has welcomed the chance to take a break.

After all, when she was using the apps, she got into the toxic mindset of “I’m never going to find someone if I don’t use this really aggressively.” All she got was feeling bad about herself and the whole experience.

She had to learn strategies for coping with dating getting to her, like asking herself certain questions to see if she was in a good place before she started reviewing apps.

“Am I enjoying this, or am I just doing it because I’m lonely and miserable?” she says. “I was trying to stop myself from falling into a black hole of seeing people and feeling affected.” Unfortunately, she fell into that black hole too many times, many more than she considers to be “good experiences.” That was when she learned to let go of her phone.

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