How To De-Clutter Your Dating Life

Originally posted on Bustle

Dating, especially online dating, can get frustrating really quickly. One of the best dating tips I’ve heard is to take the time to de-clutter your love life. If you have too many things going on — but you feel like you’re not going anywhere — you could easily end up with dating burnout.

Dating burnout is a lot like job burnout. What was once fun and exhilarating has become exhausting, frustrating, and overwhelming,” Esther Boykin, licensed love and relationship therapist, tells Bustle. “Over the course of normal dating, people will experience moments of frustration or exhaustion but when those feelings become the primary response to even the idea of a date, burnout has definitely set in.” And if you get to that place, you may have to take a big step back from dating in order to reset, so it’s easier just to find ways to keep yourself from burning out.

One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to streamline your dating life and make things easier on yourself. Whether you’re just swiping or have a few different people who you’re seeing, you can still find ways to de-clutter and stop dating from feeling so stressful. Here’s where to start.

1. Set A Specific Time To Use Dating Apps

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Firstly, if you’re using a dating app or website, designate a time to use it. If messages and matches trickle in throughout the day it can be exciting… at first. If you feel like it’s getting a little chaotic or overwhelming, turn off notifications and decide you’re just going to check your apps on your way to work or after 9 p.m. so it doesn’t start to stress you out.

2. Be Mindful When You’re Swiping Or Are On A Date

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Being more mindful about your dating life is a great way to de-clutter because it helps you be in tune with what you really want — and it’s actually way easier than it sounds. “Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment, with openness, curiosity and without judgment,” Jamie Price, Wellness Expert and Co-Founder of mindfulness app, Stop, Breathe & Think tells Bustle. “When you bring the quality of mindfulness to dating, it can open up a world of relationship possibilities.”

When you’re swiping, chatting with someone, or even on a first date, just make a point to take a step back and connect with yourself to figure out how you’re feeling about this person and whether you want to continue talking or hanging out with them.

3. Delete Old Numbers And Conversations

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You can physically de-clutter your love life, too. Too few of us do this, including me. I have been in a relationship for two and half years and still have numbers in my phone like “James Tinder” or “Sarah Bumble”. Be better than I am and just clear out people you’re not talking to from your phone. The same goes for your inboxes — if your dating app messages are unmanageable, doing a clean once a week will help you take a fresh start on your love life.

4. Block People If You Have To

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If someone keeps haunting (aka when an ex pops back up via text or social media) or zombieing (aka when someone you were seeing pops back up and tries to hang out again) you or is just downright toxic, delete their number or straight up block them. You don’t need them taking up your emotional or mental space.

5. Go On More Actual Dates

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A lot of the back-and-forth of dating conversations can end up feeling like annoying life admin — so work on getting straight down to the actual dates. Those are the fun parts, right? If it helps move things along, decide that you’re only going to message with someone X number of exchanges or Y amount of days, then ask them out or let it go.

6. Take The Pressure Off Finding “The One”

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Let go of your expectations and decide to let the dates just happen — it will remove some of the mental clutter and stress around finding “The One”. “The biggest thing that I see causing dating anxiety in clients is expectation — expecting that someone will be like an ex, that great ‘one that got away’ or in the alternative, that the new person that you are meeting will be like that one that you were glad to get away from,” Jeanie Winstrom, Couples Expert at Talkspace tells Bustle. “Look at the entire dating experience as a way to meet new people. When we feel that pressure to connect, anxiety is the unpleasant result.”

7. Be Honest About What You Want

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There’s no point in ending up on the fourth or fifth date with someone who wants something totally different than you, and there’s nothing wrong with being upfront about what you’re looking for. “My approach with my clients who are on the dating scene is always to encourage them to be direct and upfront as much as possible, right from the start,” Dr. Jennelle, a PhD psychologist and relationship advisor tells Bustle. “People often feel nervous to put their needs and wants out on the table or ask the hard questions (e.g., Do you want to see me again?) on the first few dates, but when you don’t, it can set up a precedent for dishonesty and ambiguity.” And that ambiguity and confusion is emotional clutter that you don’t need. Be mature, direct, and upfront. Then you don’t have to sit around playing mind games.

It’s easy to let your love life and dating life get messy, especially if you’re trying to make things work when they don’t really fit. But taking a step back and de-cluttering your love life will making dating feel less like a chore and more like a fun activity.