"The dark side of dating no one talks about: The constant little heartbreaks."

Listen to this story being read by Emily Vernem, here.

As someone who has been frequenting dating apps over the past two years, I always find it surprising how little people know about dating burnout. 

Whether I go on one bad date or a week of bad dates, the questions that always seem to follow are always along the lines of: "When are you getting back on the apps?", "are you talking to anyone else?", "when’s your next date?". 

The saying (which I’ve completely made up right now) is true. No one is more invested in a single person’s dating life than someone who is in a happy relationship. 

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The minute I turned 20, my dating life turned into spectacle where people who had found their life partner could laugh at all my terrible dating stories, entertain themselves by asking to see my dating apps, and give their unsolicited first date ideas all while watching from the sidelines knowing that they are safe in their own relationships. If you’re a single woman in your 20s, get ready for your dating life to be only the source of entertainment for the people around you (because let’s face it, people in relationships have literally nothing else going on).

Four years later, I’m still hearing the same things. "You should enjoy being single in your 20s!" "These are your best years", "you don’t want to be in a relationship right now", and the list goes on. As someone who has been single for five years I've come to learn that the only people who say these things are either people who are happily in a relationship, or people who have had the experience of being in a relationship and realised that they’ve just wasted a good chunk of their lives. What these two kinds of people usually forget is that being single in your 20s can suck. Although I really enjoy dating and meeting new people, it is also emotionally draining, tiring and desensitising.


The dark side of dating which no one talks about, are the constant little heartbreaks you go through where the healing process is double the amount of time you dated that person for. 


You feel like you don’t have the right to mourn someone you weren’t even in a relationship with, so you just put yourself back out there and the cycle continues until you wake up one morning and can’t even remember the name of the person you saw the evening before. 

Although it took me a while to recognise this toxic pattern in my dating life, I’ve become more aware of my actions and have noticed certain signs when I’m about to go through dating burnout. 

Things like mindlessly swiping left on over 30 people a day on the apps, not even really looking at them, forgetting that they are actual people. Not getting that butterfly nervous feeling you’re supposed to get when you go on a date because to be honest, you’re not really excited to get to see them. Telling your friends that you’re going on a date but in reality, you’ve cancelled on them last minute to stay at home and eat pizza because you don’t want to admit defeat.


I now know that whenever I find myself doing these things I need to take a break, reset and work on myself. Sometimes it takes a week, sometimes it takes six months. Someone (who ironically, I recently dated) told me that he tries to take something good out of every bad relationship. Applying this reasoning to my own dating life, I have successfully been able to avoid burnout. I’ve realised that dating is not a race. You don’t have to go out with five different people in one week (yes I have done this and no I don’t want to talk about it).

Every person you meet will provide value to your life if you make yourself aware of it. Sometimes it will be a bad date that you will laugh about in the future every time you think about it, sometimes it will be a date with a problematic person who you can then warn your other single friends to watch out for and protect them. And rarely, it can be someone great who was just in your life at the wrong time but you now have a new friendship. Using this mind-set while dating has made me enjoy the process all over again, while also helping me learn more about myself.

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