Consult with Krystal – Should I give up on dating altogether?
I’m wondering if I should just give up on dating. I am on 3 different dating apps and frequently match with guys that seem promising. Every week, I go on at least 3 dates and sometimes it’s closer to 6 or 7. Yet, these dates never go anywhere. My longest relationship ever was only 5 months. On top of this, I’ve been dating for 14 years! (I started when I was 14 and I’m 28 now.)
I truly don’t understand why I’ve been so unsuccessful. I have a degree and a well-paying job. When I go out, I always put in effort to look attractive. I put on makeup and try to be stylish. If the guy messages me about his interests like tennis or brewing, I research these topics beforehand. I can carry a conversation. I laugh at my date’s jokes. But they rarely ask me out again.
I have gone out with a few men more than once (this includes my 5 month relationship). But ultimately, it doesn’t work out. A few times I ghosted the guy because I didn’t see any long-term potential. Usually though, the guy ends things with me.
I have read countless books and blogs to date better but despite this, it’s never worked out for me. I just want to find my person but to be honest, I’m feeling kind of hopeless. I see couples all around and I think to myself, what is so bad about me?! Why am I left out?! When I get in these moods, it’s hard for me not to attack myself. Is the problem me? Am I just wasting my time? Should I just give up on dating?
– Wanting my ROI
Dating is a lot of work
I really appreciate your question, Wanting my ROI. I also completely understand your frustration with dating right now. You are putting a ton of effort into dating with little return on your investment! Three to 7 dates a week is a lot of time and effort. Of course, you are not only investing time into the dates but in arranging the date, getting ready, and your transportation to and from the date.
When I think about how much time it can take up to be on an app, wait to match, schedule the date, and actually go on the date, it truly adds up! My personal estimates are you may be spending a minimum of 9 hours a week focused on dating. Other weeks, this may be at least 20 hours a week or more – that’s a part time job!
Your frustration with dating makes sense
No wonder you feel so frustrated. This kind of unpaid work without seeing the benefits of your labor is exhausting. You are clearly a driven and organized person who is willing to put in the work for what you want. This is incredibly respectable. Yet, your drive can also lead you to forget that in life, there are some things you cannot control.
Unlike getting your degree, or finding a job, there is more of an element of luck involved in finding your person. As someone who is so driven, dating (and relationships) may be one of the few areas of life you can’t control. This is both frustrating and humbling.
You must date to find a relationship
After all this hard work, it makes sense you want to know if you should give up on dating! There is a natural tendency as human beings to get stuck in all-or-nothing thinking, after all. This type of thinking goes to extremes and while understandable, does create problems. The more helpful path is to look at the middle ground.
When it comes to finding your person, it’s a fact that you must date. Given this fact, alongside the truth you cannot force when you find your right partner, maybe you could take a new approach to dating? Maybe you could date in a more balanced way rather than treating it like a part-time job?
Related: Hate dating but want a relationship?
Dating to find a healthy relationship
I love your determination to find your person. Yet, I also wonder what your relationship with yourself is like. You mention that you you prepare for dates in advance by dressing up, researching their interests and always laugh at their jokes. Yet when this date doesn’t work out, you sometimes attack yourself. This is a painful way to live.
When you put in so much effort into dating, do you ever feel you’re losing your connection with yourself? Do you have a hard time showing up as your authentic self rather than who you think you “should” be to be liked by your date? If so, please know this is understandable. Of course, you want to be liked. At the same time, you can’t attract a truly healthy and compatible partner, if you’re not authentic.
For years, I’d alternate personally between an all or nothing approach with dating. I’d date frantically or I would go through periods of swearing off dating. Though it was only until I healed my relationship style by dating in a conscious way, I found my husband.
Related: Am I too picky?
Healing Your Relationship Style
You may benefit from doing some of your own work to heal your approach to relationships. When I read your question, it sounds like you may be experiencing codependency. This may sound overwhelming but please know, that naming this is simply to help you heal.
Fundamentally, codependency is when a person has a pattern of seeking approval for others while simultaneously often not knowing what they truly need, want, or feels. Codependency negatively impacts our ability to have intimacy in our lives. People with codependency often struggle to attract, and maintain, healthy relationships. In my own codependency, I dated for attention and approval. I wanted to be wanted so badly I spent years trying to get emotionally unavailable men to “pick” me. When this didn’t happen, I’d get depressed and self-critical.
What would you do if you gave up on dating?
In my book, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle, I explain how to truly recover. Codependency recovery requires committing to yourself. In this process, you begin to connect with – and care for – your authentic self.
All this effort you’re pouring into finding your person, may be better spent in a more balanced way. With so much time and energy invested into dating, you may neglect yourself. Do you have a regular self-care practice? I imagine it may be difficult to show up for yourself in a nurturing way right now. After all, there are only so many hours in a day. Between work, and dating, it can be hard to care for your basic physical needs such as sleep.
Adults need, on average, 7-9 hours of sleep to balance their mood and appetite throughout each day. Are you getting this need met? My first encouragement to you to begin to date in a more balanced way is to ensure you are getting enough sleep.
To heal your dating patterns and frustrations, I encourage you to focus on yourself. Create a self-care practice and commit to it. Additionally, honor what brings you authentic joy that’s not attached to a long-term goal. Right now, you are so focused on attracting your person, it may be sucking the fun and flow out of life.
You can’t date perfectly but don’t give up
While I love how driven you are, you can’t force finding the right person for you. There’s an element of chance. You can control the fact that you are open, and available, to date. You can keep the door open. Yet you can’t “make it happen.” You can’t do this perfectly.
I encourage you to stay available to dating but in a balanced way. If you created some spaciousness from your schedule, outside of dating, what would you do that’s fun? Maybe it’s painting, or reading, or taking a nature walk. Maybe it’s trying new recipes, including plant-based ones. Whatever you have been wanting to do but it never feels like the right time, I encourage you to start.
Dating with more intention
There’s this idea that we are looking for our other half. However, this is misguided. If we multiply two halves (0.5) we get even less (0.25) We must work on our wholeness. To attract a healthy, and compatible, partner we must become what we seek.
To date with more success, I encourage you to date consciously. Take some time to identify your non-negotiables in a partner. Then, ensure you embody these qualities. For example, if you want someone who values family yet you never make time for yours, you may want to change this.
While your frustration with dating is understandable, I encourage you to stick with it. Yet, balance dating with time for yourself and your other relationships. Try not to burn yourself out in the process. Set limits on how much time you’re on the apps and how many dates you go on per week. When you work on your whole self, and life, you may return to the truth that dating can actually be fun! Sending you love!
About The Author, Krystal
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. She has focused her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She teaches the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
Her course, Confidently Authentic: Stop People Pleasing and Start Being True to Yourself, provides the skills necessary to have a healthy relationship. This course features over a year of relationship skills you would learn in therapy. Students share this course has been “life changing.”
Each week, she answers your relationship questions from a place of expertise and compassion. To submit your relationship questions, please DM us @confidentlyauthentic.com