Dating is fun, and it’s the first step to finding a relationship, if that’s your goal. But it’s also easy to get addicted to dating. The fun factor can make it feel more like a hobby than part of the process of finding love.
And if you’re not looking for a relationship and just enjoy casual dating, it’s even easier to get addicted. There’s no end goal of finding love, so there’s little to invest in each date. It can seem like a great way to fill time, entertain yourself, and meet new people.
So how do you know when you’ve crossed the line between just having fun dating and a dating addiction? Look for the following signs.
You spend tons of time on dating apps
Most people, when bored, turn to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You, however, open one of the many dating apps you’re currently using.
It might be the first app you open each day and the last one at night. You have push notifications active so you can be alerted whenever someone matches with you or messages you — and you immediately open them and respond.
You might even go to the bathroom mid-date so you can check a dating app.
It literally feels like an addiction. Like you can’t stop and must satisfy this craving to see what’s happening on the app.
You feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster
Dating comes with highs and lows. It’s exciting when you first start talking to someone, getting to know them, going on dates. It’s a bummer when you realize you don’t have anything in common or you don’t want the same thing or you just don’t feel any chemistry. You’re confused when they ghost you or they suddenly unmatch you on a dating app.
A dating addiction can make you feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster. One moment, you’re excited and happy because you just met someone new. In the next breath, you’re trying to figure out what happened and why it’s not going anywhere. And then you’re happy and excited again because there’s someone new.
It’s just a constant up and down as you constantly cycle through the emotions because you’re constantly cycling through dates. You might even feel exhausted by it, yet you can’t seem to bring yourself to stop.
You put dating ahead of other activities
You have the choice to go out with friends or on a date — and you choose the date. You could spend the evening at home with a new book you’ve been looking forward to reading or on a date — and you pick the date.
You’d rather be on a date than doing anything else. You might still enjoy other interests and hobbies, but you put dating ahead of all of them. And it’s not just the actual dates.
You hop on dating apps instead of doing other things. You read blogs and articles about dating, buy books about dating, and watch YouTube videos that offer dating tips and advice.
You might even take time off of work to go on dates or put your job in jeopardy by dating people you work with or for, even when it’s against company policy.
You’re not picky about who you date
If someone asks you on a date, you say yes. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they do, or what they look like. If they’re interested, so are you.
You might have some standards but they are incredibly low compared to where they should be or where they once were. You don’t try to find common interests or shared values or any of the other things that might have once been important to you.
As long as there’s a minimum of attraction, you’re in. And you don’t necessarily wait for them to ask you. You don’t worry about flirting or building a friendship as a foundation first. If you’re interested and they don’t seem to be making a move, you take charge and ask them out.
While there’s nothing wrong with being the one who asks for the date, if you’re just asking out any random person that you feel mildly attracted to, or even ones you’re not, it can be a sign of dating addiction.
You get attached quickly
Are you always imagining yourself married to your date by the end of the first date? Maybe even before the first date? Or maybe you see the whole relationship playing out in your mind, from dating to the first time you have sex to moving in together to getting married.
You start thinking you could fall in love, or that you are falling in love, after just a couple of dates. You’re ready to talk exclusivity after date two or three. You want to introduce dates to your kids before you even talk about exclusivity.
Dating is a process and a slow one at that. Each date is a small handful of hours during which both of you are putting your best selves out there. What little you’re getting to know about each other is only the best stuff.
If you’re getting attached and thinking it’s real after just a few dates, it might be a dating addiction. Real love, real relationships develop over time as the dates get more frequent and last longer, and the façades come down so you get to know the real person with all their flaws.
You use dating apps to move on
Every time a relationship ends, or you stop seeing someone, the first thing you do is hop back on the dating apps. In fact, you never really got off them. You just deactivated your profile so that all you need to do is log in and tap a button. You’re free again and you’re hunting for someone new.
When you’re not addicted to dating, you take some time to grieve, to heal, to make yourself whole and feel ready to put yourself back out there. Whether it’s just a few days or a few months, you know you need time to heal before you move on. You might have a rebound relationship now and then, but you recognize that’s what you’re doing.
If you’re addicted to dating, you go straight back to the dating apps because you’d rather go on another date than deal with your emotions. You’d rather find someone new to dive into something new with than deal with the remnants of a relationship that didn’t work out.
You go on multiple dates in the same day
Dating multiple people is a good idea. You should keep your options open until you’re sure you want to get more serious with just one person. But dating multiple people in the same day is a sign of dating addiction.
Dates are meant to help you get to know someone. If you’ve got multiple dates in the same day, you’ll be thinking about your other dates rather than focusing on the one you’re on. You won’t truly get to know anyone and you might even confuse information you learn about the different people you went out with.
You also don’t allow yourself any wiggle room when you plan multiple dates in the same day. If one date goes particularly well and you want to spend more time with that person, you can’t because you have to move on to the next.
If you’re planning multiple dates in the same day, it can also be more than just a dating addiction. It could also be a sign that you’re trying to avoid a relationship and maybe even distract yourself from other issues that you don’t want to acknowledge or deal with.
If no one’s interested, your self-esteem takes the hit
High self-esteem and confidence should be based on much more than just your dating life. They should come from being good at your job, knowing your good qualities, and just generally knowing that you are a worthy and good individual.
But if you have a dating addiction, your self-esteem is likely to take a hit if you aren’t finding anyone who’s interested — or if there are fewer people interested than you’d like. If you feel like there should be more people interested in you, or the people you match with on dating sites aren’t matching back, you’ll start thinking there’s something wrong with you.
Rather than having a whole life that makes you feel fulfilled and worthy, your whole life revolves around dating. So when the dates aren’t as plentiful, your life feels empty and that lowers your self-esteem.
Get past a dating addiction
If you think you’re addicted to dating, you can change it.
Start by getting off the dating apps and not dating. Give yourself at least a month, maybe even longer, with no dating and no apps. Go cold turkey and use the time to explore other parts of your life.
You can also try working with a therapist to get to the root of how and why you became addicted in the first place. They can also help you come up with a plan to avoid getting addicted again in the future.
Wendy Miller is a freelance relationship writer & meditation teacher. After years of settling for abusive and otherwise toxic relationships, she got fed up. Using meditation and other tools, she got to work on healing herself, setting boundaries, and only engaging in relationships (romantic and otherwise) that bring her joy. She wants to help other single parents find the love they seek, including and going beyond romantic love. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
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