Dating is a lot like a job interview - you dress up better than you usually do, answer questions you’ve heard 50 times before, try to stifle a yawn before it becomes obvious, and smile pleasantly.
If it goes well, great. But if it doesn’t – if you don’t land the job, so to speak – then you simply go on another date. And another. And yet another.
Dating can be exhausting. So it’s little wonder that there is a group of people who are flying the white flag and developing what’s been dubbed “dating burnout” - a social ailment caused by repetitive disappointing dates.
Helen Page knows exactly what that feels like. The 40-year-old from NSW has spent the past year dating online, but feels wrung out after forming emotional bonds with would-be suitors in the digital sphere, only to feel disappointed by the time they actually met.
“I’ve been on and off Tinder for a year. I get burned and I delete the app off my phone; it’s part of the dating cycle,” she explains. “I get burned out, I throw it all away and then I start again.”
“I think it’s really easy to feel disappointed when people don’t fit the image you’ve given them.”
Professional matchmaker Trudy Gilbert, who runs dating service Elite Introductions International, says that online dating can create intense connections within just a few days but when those expectations fail to materialise in real life, it can lead to burnout.
“I think it’s really easy to feel disappointed when people don’t fit the image you’ve given them."
“Singles project ‘fantasy experiences’ of their first date, have over-optimistic interpretations of profiles and develop inappropriate emotional investment towards people they have only ever met online,” Gilbert tells SBS.
This can seep in by new date number five, she says, when daters drop their expectations.
“Singles can’t be bothered going to the effort of getting dressed up or investing in an open and enthusiastic attitude for another new date when the previous ones eventuated in disappointment.”
Page says it’s not just disappointing when you finally meet someone; sometimes the other person doesn’t bother to show up.
“There was one guy, who was all excited to talk to me, and we were supposed to meet up one day and he didn’t even show up, even though we had spoken just hours earlier.
“Rejection is killer; it’s mentally exhausting,” says Page.
But the downside is that unprecedented choice has created a disposable dating culture.
Dating has changed a lot over the past 15 years. Whereas couples would often meet through friends or family, or at bars, dances and other social gatherings, the internet has taken over to become the second preferred method to meet new people.
The addition of the internet to dating has brought both positives and negatives; on the upside, you can now scroll for dates while in your pyjamas and eating dinner at home and be exposed to potentially thousands of would-be suitors.
But the downside is that unprecedented choice has created a disposable dating culture. It’s leaving some people cynical, frustrated and thinking seriously about swapping the prospect of love for a German shepherd puppy.
“Online dating has killed the thrill of the chase, the perceived endless options undermine ‘staking a claim’ and cause anxiety in choosing to explore a relationship with one person,” says Gilbert
“Switching off” to romantic love and a partner sounds dramatic but it’s an increasing option to Australians, whether they’ve suffered dating burnout or not.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2015 revealed that the number of single people has been on the rise for some time and according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in seven Australians is expected to be single by 2030.
But if you’re not ready to give up the hunt, Gilbert recommends making some changes to the average practice of scrolling and swiping online.
She suggests you use online dating merely to organise in-person dates, and don’t engage emotionally online. Another tip: ask your friends to set you up on dates with their single friends and consider using a matchmaker.
Page also has some words of dating wisdom, too. Put simply – be nice.
“People are vulnerable and put themselves on the line, so people should be a bit kinder.”