‘Help! I can’t be bothered to date any more.’

I get it. But trust me, there’s hope yet.

First, take a nap. Then fire the missiles.

My reference to a 2000s “meme” aside… it’s true. You can take a break — some serious “me time” — before you crack on with all the messaging and swiping and whatever else. It is a time sink to do those things, even if the apps and sites make it as game-like as possible. Reality says that these things are still taxing, so if you need a break, take a break. Give it a rest. Be cool on your own for a bit.

Now, it’s time to deal with reality.

I’ll tell you straight up: I loathed dating. It was just the worst time ever. Dating is total rubbish, for the most part. But I also really wanted and valued finding someone to share my time with. Call me old school, but I did really want an intimate and invested relationship with someone. I realised pretty quickly though that I was firmly in the minority on this; most the people I encountered, particularly on sites like OkCupid, were not interested in monogamy or a relationship. The majority were just looking for an additional fun person to sleep with and maybe spend some time with. A capital-R Relationship wasn’t really on the menu.

Consider making a list.

Confession: I made a serious list. It had about 85 things on it, from as small as ‘has nice hair’ to ‘is generous’ to ‘likes languages’. They weren’t all dealbreaker items, but just making the list of what I was looking for did help me to realise that I was looking for something specific — it wasn’t as vague and hard to imagine as I thought.

Make your profile clear clear clear!

Don’t write on your profile that you are after ‘the one to marry’ if you’re actually looking for a friends-with-benefits relationship. This should be logical, but it is incredible how self-deluded and flat out unhelpful many profiles are. I am going to take aim here at the dudes: dudes, we don’t want to sleep with you if you’re going to be deceptive about your intents. Just be clear. Tell the world what it is that you are after.

Develop your questions wisely.

Following on from my earlier point on knowing what you are after, you do need to be able to subtly get to know a person — before you meet them. This is hard, I know, and people can say all kinds of shit on text. Some people swear by having a phone call before meeting an online potential. Whatever works for you, of course, just make sure you know what questions you need answers to before you engage in real life.

Find activities that satisfy you first.

Online dating is a particular experience. I have never, ever had any success from it. I was single for about 2 years in London, using apps every so often, and getting nowhere. When I did finally meet my partner, it was because of an activity group we both attended (a writing group, specifically). The activity itself was one I enjoyed, so it meant that I didn’t feel too horrible by going out and doing that thing. I wasn’t so focused on finding a partner.

Develop an attitude.

You’re probably thinking…what?! I don’t mean ‘go out with a bad attitude’. I mean you have to adopt an attitude that works for you. It usually is a combination of earnest looking for someone (if it is a relationship that you are after) and disinterest in the result. Basically impossible. So be gentle with yourself. Develop an approach that will get you through the painful process of searching.

Keep in touch with your own feelings.

Last but not least, your own mental and emotional health is primary in all this. Putting yourself out into the world to find love is really hard and I empathise with everyone who is embarking on that process. You are doing a courageous thing by offering yourself up emotionally to get to know people and facing potential rejection. That is hard going, and it is important to check in with your own body, your own feelings, as regularly as works for you. Even if you, once a week, sit down, have a meditation sesh, or a bath, or go for a quiet walk — whatever it might be that gets you into the reflective zone — it is worth doing. Take that time to journal about your experiences, to reflect on how you feel and how the process is affecting you. Stop whenever you need to. There is no hurry to this.

Written by

Trying to live better. Writing on Mental Health, Relationships, and Living Ethically. Editor/Podcaster.

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