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Relationships

In a Dating Drought? Here’s How to Get Back Out There

| 04/11/2022

Illustration by Léa Zhang

A dating drought can feel like the end of your dating life. And the longer it goes on, the more you may resist trying to get back out there. Maybe it’s because you’ve grown more comfortable being by yourself, or perhaps you just catastrophize what will happen when you go on your first date in a long while. But there’s nothing to fear — dating droughts are common and can be overcome. 

If you’re feeling a little rusty at the whole dating game, here are a few tips to make getting back out there easier. If you need a little rain after that long drought, we’ve got you covered!

Go easy on yourself and know you’re not alone.

You may have friends saying, “Just download an app, swipe, and go for it!” And while that advice may be well-meaning, it doesn’t consider a huge problem — a lot of singles are experiencing a fear of dating again thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science, Logan Ury, even coined the term FODA (Fear Of Dating Again) to describe the growing issue. Her research found that 51 percent of users were experiencing FODA and were struggling to get back out there after months of isolation.

We’re all still dealing with the weight of the pandemic, even with easing restrictions. So if you’re finding yourself a victim of FODA, go easy on yourself. There’s a very logical reason why you’re struggling.

Work on boosting your confidence before you get back out there.

Dating can be an absolute beast when it comes to nurturing confidence. A word of advice: Never look up your Tinder score. While finding a supportive partner can undoubtedly boost your confidence and self-esteem, the resilience often required by dating can sometimes tear it down before you get to that point. 

If you haven’t dated in a while and your confidence isn’t particularly high, take the time to work on building it up before you download a dating app. Try telling yourself confidence-boosting affirmations in the mirror each morning, unfollow anyone on social media who makes you feel lesser, or even join a posture class to practice holding yourself with power. And remember to work on boosting that confidence on your dates as well. Dressing in bold colors, listening to bass-driven music, and cheering yourself on in the mirror can all help you feel more confident just before a date.

When you’re ready to create a dating profile, ask for some help. Taking selfies can feel difficult when you’re not feeling confident. But you know who knows how to get your best angles? Your friends do. A good friend will always cheer you on and help you boost that confidence. Your friends can take photos of you feeling your best. And the best photos for a dating profile are ones where you are truly feeling yourself.

Set reasonable expectations. 

If you set the goal of finding your perfect match on your first date after a dating drought, you’ll likely be disappointed. And that disappointment may prevent you from wanting to put yourself back out there again. That’s why it’s crucial to be honest with yourself and set expectations that make sense. Yes, your first date out of the gate may be a dud. And that’s okay! A part of dating is figuring out what you’re not looking for. 

Setting reasonable expectations is also about acknowledging whether or not your idea of a perfect match is really, well, a person. How many boxes do you want your date to check? Are all of those boxes reasonable? Which items are negotiable? If your checklist is miles long, you might miss out on many great matches, even if they aren’t perfect. 

Don’t be afraid of online dating — just be mindful of it.

Many people avoid online dating for a litany of reasons. They may fear the rising rates of scammers using dating apps in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, or they could be aware of the fact that frequent dating app use has been linked to anxiety and depression. But as of 2019, online dating has become the most common way couples meet, finally surpassing being introduced by friends and family. In today’s dating landscape, it’s hard to avoid online dating or dating apps, which might put you off dating altogether if you’re not a big fan of using them.

But dating apps don’t have to be so scary. Like with any form of social media, the best thing to do is be mindful when using it. If someone feels like a scammer, block them. Avoid spending hours swiping left and right. Give yourself a little time during the day to swipe around, but otherwise, put your phone down. Dating apps are like any form of social media, and the overuse of them can lead to social media fatigue, which can affect everything from your stress levels to your sleep cycle. It’s important for your mental and physical health that you don’t fall into a dating app rabbit hole.

Dating after a drought can feel like a big undertaking, so much so that you just might want to avoid putting yourself back out there. But dating can be fun and rewarding. Even if you don’t find the one right away, you may make some friends along the way or at least have a few new exciting experiences. And even if the date does go wrong, aren’t those the most fun stories to rehash with your friends later on? Once you put yourself out there again, you’ll find each date feels easier and easier, and your drought will be a distant memory.

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