Understanding the emotional challenges of modern dating

Modern dating has become profoundly digital in recent years, driven by a surge of dating apps and an increasing reliance on technology to connect us with prospective partners. While these platforms have opened up new avenues for meeting people, they also come with emotional challenges that can leave us feeling frustrated, anxious and even burnt out.

Here are some online dating strategies for building healthy matchmaking habits in the digital age.

The landscape of modern dating

In the age of modern dating, traditional methods of meeting people – such as through friends, at work, social events or chance encounters – have taken a back seat to the convenience and accessibility of dating apps. This became even more pronounced during the pandemic, where people were stuck at home and only able to make new connections online. But while that might have been a positive for most singles, being cooped up together actually placed significant stress on almost one in three existing relationships, according to Choosi’s Cost of Love Report.

For those looking for love, these dating apps have become the go-to for meeting new people, especially in our fast-paced world where time for socialising is often limited. Having the freedom to swipe through potential matches from the comfort of your couch has changed the dating game forever. But while it’s created exciting new opportunities, it’s also revealed unexpected challenges.

“The current dating landscape is better and worse than in the past. It’s better in that there are more people using dating apps and websites, so there are actually more good people on them,” says Angela Barrett, Love & Life Coach.

“And the bad news? In the world of dating, this ‘choice overload’ can make us devalue the humans putting themselves out there. There’s always more where that person came from. The one-dimensional nature of dating apps and websites can also make it harder for a person’s wonderful attributes to shine through.”

Rise of dating apps in Australia

Dating apps have gained significant popularity in Australia, with millions of users seeking connections and companionship through these platforms. The Choosi Swipe Right Modern Dating Report revealed that almost two-thirds of Aussies (62%) who are actively dating predominantly use dating apps and websites to meet potential partners.

However, this shift in dating behaviours has come with its own set of emotional complexities, one of which is the phenomenon of ‘ghosting’.

What is 'ghosting'?

Ghosting is a term used to describe the abrupt disappearance of one party in a budding relationship, leaving the other person in a state of confusion and uncertainty. It often happens after the initial stages, such as a promising first date, and it frequently occurs on dating apps before you’ve had a chance to meet that special someone.

The person who is ghosted is left asking themselves, “what went wrong?”. This often results in a flood of emotions ranging from disappointment and anger to questioning their self-worth. Unfortunately, almost three-quarters of Australians aged 18–49 (73%) “have ghosted someone at least once because they just couldn’t be bothered anymore”, and more than seven in 10 (71%) have been ghosted themselves, according to the Swipe Right Report.

“It’s normal to feel disheartened by negative experiences, but you need to learn how to bounce back fairly quickly so you don’t get stuck in an unhelpful story that you’re a lost cause and you’ll never find love,” says Barrett.

“If someone ghosts you, breaks up with you or lets you down, it does not mean that you’re not good enough. Or, the fact that you’ve gone out with three people in a row who weren’t for you – that does not mean you’ll never find someone amazing. If you’re having difficulty believing that you are deserving and worthy of a great partner and capable of having a fantastic relationship, ask a good friend to remind you about your positive attributes and all the wonderful things you have going for you.”

Strategies for overcoming burnout when dating

The emotional challenges of modern dating, including ghosting, can lead to burnout. This usually manifests as emotional exhaustion and less motivation to keep dating. To overcome burnout, consider the following strategies:

  • Don’t be afraid to take a break: Recognise when you're feeling emotionally drained and give yourself permission to take breaks from dating apps – or the dating scene altogether.
  • Practise self-compassion: Don't be too hard on yourself if you encounter setbacks or disappointments in the dating process. Practicing self-compassion and maintaining a positive self-image are crucial for emotional wellbeing.
  • Set realistic expectations: Understand that not every connection will lead to a long-lasting relationship, and that's okay. Set realistic expectations for your dating experience, and be open to the journey, which will include both successes and learning experiences.

Building resilience and healthy dating habits

Here are some tips to help you maintain emotional wellbeing when dating:

  • Prioritise communication: Open and honest communication is essential in any relationship, even in the early stages of dating. If you're no longer interested in pursuing a connection, it’s far better to tell the person respectfully rather than ghosting them.
  • Manage trust issues: If past experiences have left you with trust issues, take the time to address and heal from these emotions before diving into the dating world. Trust yourself and your own judgement.
  • Address relationship anxiety: Fear of rejection, fear of intimacy and fear of a relationship full stop can all impact your dating experience. Seeking support from a counsellor can help you work through these feelings and build confidence.

It’s also important to be distinctly you. Don’t devalue yourself or try to be someone you’re not.

“Be uniquely yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand out,” Barrett says. “Stand out by having photos and a written profile that reflects your distinct personality. Include these unique or quirky things so your person can spot you in the crowd of people who all start to sound and look the same.”

“If you don’t get much response on dating apps, get a professional to help write your profile and choose your photos. A well-written profile and great photos can draw out a whole lot of potential matches you would have otherwise missed.”

The pros and cons of modern dating

Modern dating, especially with its reliance on dating apps, can be emotionally taxing. Just remember that finding the right connection takes time, and what’s most important is that you prioritise self-care and try to maintain a positive outlook. As you continue your dating journey, hopefully these tips will help you overcome any emotional challenges and lead you towards a more meaningful connection with a future partner.

If you do end up finding ‘the one’, remember that any major lifestyle change like marriage or having kids could affect any life insurance policy you may hold. Whether you want to find a new policy or update an existing one, start by comparing a range of life insurance policies today.


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