Are You OD’ing On Dating?

Burning out on meeting new prospects? Try these tricks to bring back a sense of excitement and have more fun (‘cause that’s what it’s all about!).

By Amanda May

t happens to the best of us: For awhile, you’re dating up a storm and having fun doing it. Then, slowly, your eyes begin to glaze over a little when paging through profiles. Your head’s foggy due to too many drinks, your nerves jumpy from too many lattes. Strangely, meeting that cute new setup for dinner feels like one more chore you’ve gotta get done. In short, you’re approaching burnout, fast. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reverse the course you’re careening toward where you end up shutting yourself in your home for months and watching way too much TV. Here’s how to bring back that spark so you’re always bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and looking forward to meeting someone new.

See if there’s a pattern—then break it
If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, take a step back and examine why dating isn’t going well for you. “Ask yourself whether you’re only meeting new prospects in
The longer your dates, the more exhausting they’ll be.
one particular place, like a bar, or only going out with a certain type of person,” says Toni Coleman , LCSW, a psychotherapist and relationship coach in McLean, Virginia. “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, then you’ll just get more of the same.” Try to shake things up a bit, by scoping out dating prospects at your local food co-op or at the dog run. Or try going out with someone completely different than your usual type. If you find yourself only dating investment bankers who talk more about their portfolios than personal lives, try skipping the “occupation” part of a profile and then seeing who interests you—you might find yourself on a date with a cool zoologist. Just as you might not have chemistry with the person who fits your checklist, you might fall for someone who’s the total opposite of the person you consider your dream date.

Keep your dates short
This is kind of a no-brainer, but the longer your dates, the more exhausting they’ll be—and that’s especially true on first dates if you’re not sure you’ll really click yet. That’s why it’s often smart to keep dates short and sweet. “Arrange to meet friends afterwards,” says Coleman. That way, if the date’s going badly you can bolt—and laugh about it later over a beer. Just make sure your date knows beforehand that the evening has a time limit by saying you’ve got plans with friends at a certain hour. “And if things should go really well,” says Coleman, “Your friends will understand when you bail on meeting them.”

Go on a second date
When there seem to be a slew of romantic prospects online and elsewhere, it’s easy to quickly dismiss someone if date #1 doesn’t bowl you over. But this “Next!” mindset can leave you with, well, a bunch of first dates that lead nowhere—and you feeling increasingly disappointed, which is hardly romantic. “A lot of people will get home after a date and immediately get online to surf new profiles,” says Debbie Magids, Ph.D., author of All the Good Ones Aren’t Taken. But what if, instead, you kicked back to let the memories of that date simmer a little? What if, in spite of his less-than-desirable taste in clothes or her little-too-shy-for-you demeanor, you gave that person another chance? “Really get to know him or her, and you may find that you have a lot more in common than you first thought,” says Magids. Even if it isn’t love at first sight, you might find that the fun you have together turns into real chemistry down the line.

Diversify your dating venues
A little tired of meeting people for dinner, drinks, or coffee? Well, who said a date has to
People reveal more of their true selves in environments like these.
be dinner, drinks, or coffee? If there’s an exhibit at the local museum that you’ve been dying to see, suggest it for your next date, says Coleman. “Make a date into something fun, so that even if there isn’t a love connection, you spent the time doing something that you really enjoy,” she says. “Plus, it’ll help you figure out whether your date shares your interests.” Nothing new that you want to see? Do something productive, like go shopping, says Coleman. “Not only will you get stuff accomplished, but you’ll get to see how your date interacts with people like sales clerks,” she says. “People reveal more of their true selves in environments like these.”

Ask for a virgin drink
Besides blurring your judgment, alcohol zaps your energy and your good mood. “It’s no secret that alcohol affects your behavior,” says Magids, who recommends that you don’t consume more than one or two drinks on a date. “But it also dehydrates you and interrupts your sleep, making you tired for both the next day and the next date.” If you’re worried that ordering a Coke instead of a beer will look strange, opt for meeting at Starbucks instead of the local bar.

Take a break to rejuvenate
“People who date four or five times a week easily become chameleons, doing whatever the other person likes to do,” says Magids. “Taking a week or two off from the dating scene will not only re-energize you, but it’ll help you remember what you like to do.” Love bird-watching? Grab your binoculars and head to the park. Or call up your defunct book club and plan a get-together. When you start dating again, you’ll not only feel more relaxed and centered, but you’ll also appear more interesting because of all the stuff you were busy doing when you weren’t dating. And if that cute guy or girl that you’ve been eyeing asks you out, don’t budge on your no-dating rule. “Say you’d love to go, but the next two weeks are really hectic; then ask if you could get together the following week,” says Magids. Chances are that’ll only make you more appealing—and it’ll give you the time you need to recharge your romance batteries.

Amanda May has written for Redbook and other publications.
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