If you want to stop dating, it’s understandable. At the same time, there are important questions to ask yourself first. This will help ensure you are doing the right thing for you.
Question 1: Why do I want to stop dating?
The first question you want to ask yourself when you want to stop dating is simple. Ask yourself why you feel this way.
Take a moment to really contemplate why you want to stop dating. Do you feel burnt-out? Maybe you’ve been disappointed one too many times? Perhaps it seems like there are no potential healthy matches out there?
Whatever your reasons, take a moment to really understand why you want to stop dating. Notice that given these feelings – or experiences – it makes sense you may want to give up on dating altogether.
Question 2: Why did I start dating?
Now consider why you started dating the first place. Why did you download the dating apps when you did? What were you hoping for?
If you’re tired of the process of dating or being on the apps, it’s likely because you’re discouraged. This means you likely began dating, or downloaded the apps, in the hopes of finding “your person.” Did you want to find someone you can have a happy, healthy, long-term relationship with? Do you now feel discouraged because it’s not working out as you hoped?
If so, notice that you may feel both the desire to find your partner and be discouraged by the process of dating.
It’s Not All or Nothing
When you feel frustrated, or disappointed, there’s a natural tendency to get stuck in “all or nothing” thinking.
While natural, this type of thinking is one form of a thinking mistake or cognitive distortion. Both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) address these types of thoughts which make our problems worse.
To believe that you should either stop dating, or just keep going, is to get stuck in all or nothing thinking. This thinking may be making you feel worse. To get out of this thinking mistake, it’s important to remember that you have options.
You Have Options
The opposite of all or nothing thinking is dialectical. This is a type of thinking that’s often cultivated in therapy. Here, you notice that where one, or more things, which seem like opposites, can be true at the same time.
You may, for example, want to give up on dating while another part of you may still want to find your person. You may have valid reasons to want to stop dating and have valid reasons to continue. To best meet your needs, it’s helpful to look at the middle ground.
You Can Keep Dating – But Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work
In reality, dating or being open to it, is the only way to empower yourself to find the relationship you likely want. Given this truth, alongside the reality that dating has led to uncomfortable feelings for you, know you may date in a new way. After all, dating apps don’t work – you do.
You may use new skills, and boundaries, to stop dating in a way that’s been hurtful to you thus far. Lets explore some new approaches to dating for some common reasons you may want to give up.
If You’re Burnt-Out
It’s natural to want to give up on something – a job, a relationship, dating apps, etc. – when you feel burnt out. Rather than giving up on dating altogether, you may honor the middle ground. Perhaps you authentically need a break from dating to regroup.
During this time, you may practice self-care and reassess. You may need to reconnect with why you want to do the work of dating. This is likely to find a lasting relationship. You may also reassess how to stop feeling like you’re wasting your time by dating more wisely for you.
Setting Limits to Prevent and Manage Burn-Out
Dating in a wise way will likely require setting limits around your dating. This is because burn-out often occurs when we overextend ourselves. This is very clear in the case of work i.e., working too many hours. However, the same applies to dating.
How many hours you have previously invested into dating? This includes being on the app, chatting with potential dates, getting ready for dates, and actually going out the date itself. When you calculate all this time, you may notice that it makes sense you’ve gotten burnt out.
Boundaries to Set Around Dating
To break this pattern, consider the limits you can set moving forward. Examples of these boundaries to protect your mental health while dating include:
- Limiting how often you use the app i.e., only 20 minutes a day,
- Not using an app when you feel sad or anxious,
- Inviting someone on a date if you’ve communicated with them for 3 days and they haven’t asked, and,
- Letting go of potential matches if they seem “too busy” to meet up
There are many other boundaries you may need to set to protect your wellbeing. Give yourself some time to contemplate what limits will allow you to date with balance.
If You’re Personalizing the Lack of Dating Success
Sometimes, there are dating experiences which can leave you vulnerable to feeling “not good enough.” There is no shame in this – it’s a common experience. In fact, mistakenly believing that you’re the problem is another thinking mistake from DBT. When you personalize, you inaccurately make up that you’re the reason dating just isn’t working out for you.
You may understandably, but mistakenly, make up that you’re not finding dating success because something’s wrong with you.
How to Stop Personalizing Dating Disappointment
To break out of the pain of personalizing bad dates, or things not working out, it’s important to check the facts. This a therapy skill from DBT.
Here you remember that it’s a fact there are people who are both ready and have the skills for a long-term healthy relationship. It’s also a fact there are people who are not ready and/or don’t have the skills. This readiness and capability to have a healthy relationship or lack thereof in a potential match is never a sign of your worth.
Another fact is that there are people who are good matches for us long-term. And those who aren’t.
When you date wisely, you remember that rejection is truly redirection. You’re given the chance to not pursue a dead-end relationship to find your person. Here’s another fact: Every date and relationship will not work out – until they do. It’s like how it’s “always the last place I looked” right, because then you stop.
If Dating is Triggering
When trauma is triggered, it can make you feel like both you are the problem and you’re destined to be rejected or alone. Sometimes, you may want to give up on dating because it’s genuinely triggering your trauma.
Healing From Trauma
If dating is triggering, it’s important to honor that you want to stop dating because it feels re-traumatizing. When you validate this, you can find ways to heal.
Ways you can begin to heal from trauma include mental health therapy especially EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and yoga. There are many free resources to do yoga in the comfort of your own home like Yoga with Adriene and The Bare Female. Furthermore, it’s important to know that yoga is proven to be a highly effective strategy at healing trauma.
Question 3: What are my wants, needs, and boundaries?
The third question to ask yourself if you want to stop dating is around your intention. Have you been clear with both you and others about what you truly want and need?
If not, it makes sense why dating may feel like a waste of time. To date wisely and effectively, it’s important to be very clear as to why you’re dating. For example, do you want to eventually get married? Are you looking for a certain type of partner?
One of the best ways to date is a wise way is to get clear on your non-negotiable needs. What are 3 qualities you need no matter what to feel happy and satisfied with a partner? To date wisely, it’s important to look at dating as an assessment process. Either your date meets these qualities – or not.
It is a recipe for burnout and disappointment to date someone for their “potential.” They either meet your needs now and this is a potentially viable long-term option or not.
You Can Stop Dating – Or Date with Ease
When it comes to dating, you have options. You may, of course, stop dating or take a break.
If you want date in a way that is more effective, know it’s completely possible. Dating can be easier. This is done when you set limits on how much you invest in the process. Finding balance while staying open-minded is key. Work on not forgetting yourself or your other relationships when you date effectively. Continue to practice self-care while staying clear on your intentions.
Know that dating successfully is about balance and authenticity. When you are clear on your non-negotiable needs and boundaries it will make dating a lot easier if you decide to continue.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching 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 third book, Therapy Within Reach: Setting Boundaries, will be released September, 2023.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to email@example.com or DM her on Instagram.
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