Are You A Yo-Yo Dater?

Is your love life up one week… and down the next? Much like a fad diet, forcing yourself to socialize isn’t sustainable long-term. Here’s how to strike a healthy balance on the path to your “goal date.”

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

e honest: How is your dating diet? Are you pretty good at maintaining a balanced social life, or do you frequently flip-flop between trying to find love and hiding from it? If it’s the latter, don’t fret. You’re not alone! It can be hard to stay in the game at times, since dating requires you to put yourself out there in an “I’m wearing a bikini/Speedo at the beach and feeling exposed” kind of way.

Dating can definitely make you feel vulnerable, no doubt. But the people who are most successful are not the ones who dip a toe in the proverbial dating
Dating can definitely make you feel vulnerable, no doubt.
pool and then dash for cover after a single meeting. Consistency is the key to finding your match — in much the same way that eating just the right amount keeps your body weight steady over time.

With that in mind, we decided to take a look at some of the traits that could indicate you’ve got “yo-yo dater” tendencies. If you recognize yourself in any of the below diagnoses, try the accompanying tips for keeping your meet-and-greet scale in balance — because in reality, you might be just one rendezvous away from your goal date.

Yo-Yo Dater Diagnosis #1: You frequently find yourself alternating between feeling excited about dating, then loathing every second of the process.
Ah yes, the love-hate relationship with dating. On the one hand, with each new date, there’s the possibility that you’ve finally found The One; but on the other, it might be another torturous evening spent making “getting to know you” small talk with someone you’ll never see again. “With most people starting their dating lives at age 16, we’ve all endured ups, downs, and everything in between,” says Patty Brisben, founder of Pure Romance. “Some of us have had great loves and great disappointments, and putting oneself out there can be daunting… it becomes less like, ‘I’m open for love and ready to try this again,’ and more like, ‘Do I really have to?’ Dating is downright exhausting.”

Social scale stabilizer: View each date as a fresh experience. “Have you ever had two days that are exactly the same in every single way? Probably not. You don’t go into a Wednesday thinking, ‘Ugh, this is going to be just the same as Tuesday, so why even try?’ Instead, you attack every new day with vigor and make the most of it,” says Brisben, who suggests using this same point of view and applying it to your dating life. So instead of trying to make yourself love the process (and then hating it anyway, because you’re trying to love it), aim to accept each date for what it truly is: a chance for a new experience. If you decide before your date that this is going to be The One (or that you’re going to be miserable), chances are, you’ll be disappointed either way. So, stay open to whatever happens… you can always laugh about it later!

Yo-Yo Dater Diagnosis #2: You catch yourself worrying about every little element of a date to the point of panicking, then suddenly not caring if the date even happens at all.
When you’re single and on the market, worrying about your love life may be the very last thing you want to do — but you can’t help doing it anyway. At other times, the never-ending quest for a true partner becomes so overwhelming that you figure you might as well not even try. “Then once dating actually begins and you’re feeling out a new person, every day seems to become a minefield of ticking time-bombs made of worry,” says Brisben. “When will he/she call? What does it mean? Why did he/she cancel the date? And when you actually do spend time with the person, it’s easy to worry about what to do with any perceived faults or little things that start to annoy you.” Bottom line: Dating may cause worry lines to appear on your face.

Social scale stabilizer: Stop worrying so much and try to enjoy yourself. And now you’re saying, “Ha, right…easier said than done!” But here’s the thing: Worrying is the single most wasted emotion of all, not to mention a complete waste of your time. “You can’t control someone else or their actions, but what you can control is how you react to something — and whether you want to waste your time worrying about it,” says Brisben. Look, you two are either going to gel or you’re not; something’s going to happen, or else it’s not. If it’s right, you’ll end up enjoying spending time with each other and seeing where this thing goes, but if not, you’ll move on to someone else. Worrying, however, is not going to make the process go any smoother (as much as you might want it to). So give each date some effort, and then let the chips fall where they may!

Yo-Yo Dater Diagnosis #3: You leave your online dating profile posted and visible in searches, check in several times a day to see if you’ve received any new responses, and search for new potential mates… then hide your profile completely on a whim.
“Internet dating burnout pops up when you over-extend and over-schedule yourself… it’s like the pressure you experience when you go on multiple job interviews in a short period of time,” says Trisha Ventker, author of Internet Dates from Hell. “The extreme is to abandon your profile for months at a time, which happens when people lose hope as a result from taking online dating too seriously in the past.” While it can be fun to keep scouring the Internet looking for love, it can also be a huge time investment. If Prince or Princess Charming hasn’t popped up somewhere in your inbox after a certain period of time passes, it often becomes disheartening (which leads to people deserting their profiles…until loneliness sets in again and they return).

Social scale stabilizer: Establish realistic online dating boundaries and stick to them. Instead of alternately going gung-ho online and then dropping out of sight, strive for something in
Internet dating burnout pops up when you over-extend and over-schedule yourself.
between the two that feels comfortable for you. How? Be strict with your online love search by setting time limits and other appropriate boundaries to help control the amount of effort you’re putting into it. “It’s better to create a plan which includes a moderate amount of time slated [for online dating] that fits into your schedule without adding unnecessary stress,” offers Ventker. This also helps keep you from getting burned out or looking desperate. (There’s no need to cancel all of your usual activities in order to sit by your computer, hoping that your match will suddenly appear.) Online dating is supposed to serve as a tool to help you connect with other singles, not an all-consuming obsession that reminds you daily of your single status.

Yo-Yo Dater Diagnosis #4: You go through periods of time where all you think you can handle might be a random hookup with someone, and then end up wishing you were actually in a committed relationship instead.
Look, jumping into relationship territory requires a little…OK, a whole lot of trust. And sometimes, past relationship baggage (or fear of getting hurt) may keep you from being fully ready to dive into the dating fray. So you start telling yourself that you’re only looking for a fling… until you realize that you’ve developed feelings for said fling, and then you’re confused about how to deal with it. “People often choose passion over partnership,” says Brisben. “They fall for the rush of not knowing what’s next, thinking that the element of surprise is shinier than stability. They see stability as boring, so they choose ambiguity over solidity.” (Until they suddenly start to question where Mr. or Ms. Surprise is on Friday night, that is.)

Social scale stabilizer: Figure out what you really want from dating. “Only you know what you deserve. It’s obvious when something isn’t sitting well; don’t ignore that intuition,” says Brisben. “Seek someone who leaves you fulfilled emotionally, physically and mentally… a partner needs to match you on all levels, not just in the bedroom.” At the end of the day, you shouldn’t waste your time with people who don’t make you happy. And certainly don’t try to get away with a friends-with-benefits-only relationship. You deserve everything your heart desires — just be sure to listen and be honest with yourself. And keep in mind that while you may think a fling is just the thing in the short term, once you make the decision to get intimate with someone who’s a poor relationship choice for you, your hormones may “attach” you to that person without giving you any further say in the matter. That’s why it’s important to decide what you’re really seeking in a partnership before jumping in the sack!

Yo-Yo Dater Diagnosis #5: You frequently switch back and forth between a hermit-like existence (where the couch is your favorite Saturday night companion) and serial dating, which means you’re out every single night of the week with someone new.
“Yo-yo dating can sometimes create a dating addict out of someone because of the ‘high’ one gets while serial dating,” explains Ventker. “If one date goes poorly, these people rush out to find an alternative; dating addicts don’t enjoy being by themselves.” On the flip side, after going on enough “repeat dates” with different prospects at the same coffee shop over time, a serial dater may become so bored that he or she chooses to give up and stay home, because the “routine” of dating no longer provides the pleasure it once did.

Social scale stabilizer: Strive for a more balanced social life overall. Hey, remember your friends… those super-cool people you hang out with because you like them? Or the gym — when was the last time you were there, anyway? If your social life has become all about either “dating” or “retreating,” it’s time to remember a little something called “living.” You stand a much better chance of meeting your match if your entire social life is in balance. If your quest to find The One becomes so all-consuming that you’re dating to the point of exhaustion and then hiding under the covers with your ringer turned off, it’s time to reclaim some of your former self and get a life. Limit the number of nights for scheduling dates during the week for now; during the rest of your free time, do only things that make you happy. And when you do make a plan to go out, mix it up a little; if the baristas at the local coffee shop know your “order” and your “table” because you’re there so often with blind dates, it’s time to start thinking outside the box. “Prevent ‘dating delirium’ by suggesting meeting places that match your date’s personality,” suggests Ventker. “For example: Meet the artistic type for a Chai tea in the arts district of your city; coordinate a meet-up at a wine bar with a musician; stop by for a quick smoothie with the health nut, etc.” By keeping your “dating diet” more varied and interesting, you’ll find that it becomes less of a chore — and more of a pleasure. And that’s definitely the skinny on how to prevent becoming a yo-yo dater!

Kimberly Dawn Neumann ( is a popular New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Redbook, Maxim and frequently online. A certified dating/relationship coach, she’s published two books: The Real Reasons Men Commit and Sex Comes First and is the founder of She has admittedly been busted for putting her profile up for a day, then pulling it back down again — and yes, she’s still single.
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