Most people who are dating feel discouraged at some point in the process. In fact, it’s normal to deal with feelings of discouragement as it takes time to find a compatible partner and dating can certainly be a challenge.
It’s natural to experience a wide range of emotions while dating, but if you notice you are prone to a negative mindset that lingers and makes you feel cynical, it may be time to examine your thought patterns, feelings, and behavior. Feeling discouraged is often tied to negative beliefs about yourself and others that are reinforced in your dating life. For example, believing “I will never find a partner because all the good guys are taken” is likely to create feelings of hopelessness and leave you wondering “why bother?” with dating in the first place. Or buying into statements like “Every time I fall for someone I end up getting hurt” or “Men are not to be trusted” will negatively impact your actions and emotional availability. These types of beliefs will lead you to put up walls, keep potential partners at a distance, and unintentionally sabotage growing relationships.
If you would like to get to the bottom of your discouragement, clear any mental blocks around dating, and feel more confident about your love life, ask yourself the following five questions:
- What is contributing to feeling discouraged or stuck? What patterns am I aware of?
Along with negative beliefs and flawed thinking processes (aka cognitive distortions), your repeated patterns and current circumstances may lead to dating discouragement and burnout. For example, being ghosted by multiple matches (despite having solid conversations and good dates), repeatedly not getting past a third date, or feeling so anxious you turn down dates, are all potential explanations for feeling discouraged. While you can’t control all of the lows that come with dating, pinpointing patterns will help you take control of your part. Do you need to work on your anxiety? Do you notice that potential matches go MIA because you are too persistent or clingy? Are you leading with cheesy pickup lines and unintentionally turning off your dates? Are you attracted to bad boys who are ultimately unavailable? Commit to working on your role and better understanding the choices you are making and if/how they feed your discouraged view.
- How do I feel about myself? Do I believe I have something valuable to offer to potential partners?
Low self-worth and feelings of discouragement commonly go hand in hand. It’s nearly impossible to feel hopeful about dating if you feel bad about yourself. Believing you are worthy of love is a necessary component to tolerating the unpleasant aspects of dating and the inevitable moments of rejection. Therefore, it’s important to build confidence and self-acceptance while letting go of perfectionist tendencies and forgiving yourself for past mistakes. When dating gets you down, don’t put your worth in someone else’s hands. Being single doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you or you are inadequate by any means. Find a way to love and appreciate yourself regardless of what’s going on around you. Cultivating a positive self-image and self-love will help fight off discouragement and lead you toward attracting a partner who will treat you well.
- How do I feel about my past? Am I in a good place to be dating?
Unresolved issues, old emotional baggage, and lingering pain from breakups and previous relationships can contribute to feeling discouraged about your current dating life. Despite really wanting love, you won’t be fully available and open if you are stuck in the past. Consider these past experiences and their impact on your mental health, self-worth, partner selection, and openness. Allow yourself to grieve any relationship losses or divorce(s) and gain closure.
- How can I think about dating differently? Which beliefs can I examine, change or let go of?
Your beliefs shape your behavior, so a healthy mindset is crucial. Approaching your dating life with a victimized interpretation (for example, “why is this happening to me?” or “nothing ever goes my way”) is bound to increase your level of discouragement. Consider your ingrained beliefs about yourself, relationships, others, and the world and take an honest look at how they influence your actions. For instance, if you believe “men always let me down,” examine the effects this over-generalization has on the way you relate to men and approach dating. Also, understand words like “never” and “always” are very strong and rarely accurate, so look for cracks in this logic by reminding yourself of exceptions. While you may not be in a relationship currently, jogging your memory of happy or pleasant memories with men will help you reality-check flawed beliefs that make men the enemy, for example. Thinking in absolute terms is especially dangerous, so find ways to let go of these types of beliefs and create a healthy mindset for love and dating.
- What could I do differently when it comes to better handling the ups and downs of dating? Can I make any changes to my dating approach?
Feeling discouraged is often a sign it’s time to shake things up and make changes. For example, if you notice a pattern of attracting partners who play games, ensure you are not attracting people because you approach dating like a game. Or if you are unlikely to give someone a second chance if you are not blown away on a first date, it may be time to practice being more open-minded and saying yes to a second date. By recognizing these sorts of tendencies and patterns in yourself, you can commit to making necessary changes. Maybe it’s time to weed out potential partners exhibiting red flags sooner if you tend to give too many chances and overstay. Or if you tend to do the opposite and cut things off prematurely, remind yourself that building a connection takes time. Find new ways to bring positive energy into your dating life to ease feelings of discouragement and keep hope alive. Also, if you are feeling really stuck, take a breather if necessary and regroup after gaining a fresh perspective.
Dating will naturally leave you feeling discouraged at times. Sometimes you can do everything right, but things still don’t work out. When this happens, validate that you gave it your best shot and keep moving forward. If you notice patterns that are causing you to feel chronically discouraged, don’t simply blame the rest of the world for what’s going wrong. Instead find the source of your discouragement and take action to feel better. You can make improvements to any problem areas and unhealthy patterns and clear mental blocks so you are more present and mindful of your actions. You will feel more empowered by learning and growing through dating experiences. In turn, you will be better able to date from an encouraged, hopeful, and grounded place.