What is intuitive dating, and why are so many people talking about it?

Are you feeling exhausted, burnt out and fed-up in your search for “the one”? Here’s why intuitive dating could be the solution to your problems.

Dating apps have become a basic rite-of-passage for millennials looking for love. Instead of meeting people down the pub or through a friend, more and more of us are searching for a relationship online, through the lens of apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble.

While this new digital approach to love saves us a lot of time, it’s also completely changing the way we think (and feel) about the dating process. Sitting down on the sofa and scrolling through 100 new faces every hour may sound like the height of ease and simplicity, but it’s also making us feel exhausted, frustrated and low – and that’s not the best way to feel when you’re trying to meet someone new.

The issue is bigger than you might expect – a 2017 study conducted by anthropologist Dr Helen Fisher for Match.com found that 54% of women feel exhausted by modern dating. And while we’re becoming better at spotting symptoms of burnout in our working lives, such as exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy, we’re much less likely to apply the same level of self-care when it comes to our evening session on Tinder, leaving us susceptible to what some experts have termed “dating burnout”.

In fact, online dating has become yet another manifestation of our ‘always on’ culture. Whether you’re at the bus stop, between meetings or trying to get to sleep at night, it’s common to pick up your phone and swipe through a few potential matches in any spare time you can find. 

So, what can we do about it? How can we make online dating fun again, without overwhelming ourselves with the number of potential partners out there? How can we set boundaries to make sure we don’t get too carried away? According to therapist and writer Julia Bartz, the answer lies in an approach called “intuitive dating”.

“Like intuitive eating, the concept is simple but often requires large-scale internal and behavioural changes,” Bartz writes for Psychology Today. “The payoff is feeling more peace and pleasure in dating – as well as upping your chances to meet the best possible partner/s for you.”

Alongside the more obvious solutions such as setting limits on the amount of time you spend scrolling and swiping and taking frequent breaks away from the digital world, Bartz recommends setting goals in order to make sure you’re using the time you do spend online intentionally. 

“No matter what your ultimate dating goal is – finding one or more primary partners, looking for casual connections – it’s vital to set and hold that intention,” she writes. “While it may seem smart to sift through prospects and make decisions based on who or what is available, you’ll get more powerful results with a clear intention.

“Be intentional about the time and energy you spend on dating,” she adds. “Instead of scrolling while you watch TV or wait for a friend at a café, devote 15 or 20 minutes daily.”

Bartz also advocates focusing on the energy a potential partner gives off through their messages, reflecting on your dating history (and considering what might be holding you back) and making sure to take the time to take care of yourself. 

As with any feelings of burnout, it’s important to give yourself time to deal with and manage feelings of exhaustion and stress, even if the source is something so seemingly silly as a dating app. Try to stop swiping before bedtime, put a ban on dating apps in the office, or take yourself away from the dating world for a little while in order to reassess what you really want.

Hustle culture may have made us feel like we need to put our all into everything we do (including our search for love), but our success in the dating world unfortunately does not correspond to how much work we put in. 

After all, dating is actually supposed to be fun (who knew?!) – and it’s about time we remember that.

Images: Getty

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