Scrolling, chatting, meeting, ghosting: online dating can be a depressing grind that leaves many singles feeling burnt out.

Andy Hong feels like he keeps meeting the same woman online: a graduate from a small school in New England who likes to ski and play sports. The twenty-eight-year-old says he has nothing against this kind of woman, but he’s not necessarily clicking with them, and knows there are all kinds of people out there with whom he could enjoy a romantic relationship.

The repetition is wearing on him, but still the dating app Hinge keeps recommending people from the same mold. “They cater to a type, and they will feed you a type,” Boston-based Hong says of Hinge.

The experience has left Hong with what he calls “decision fatigue” – something others refer to as “dating app burnout”. It’s a prevalent phenomenon in the app-based dating world. People grow tired of the endless scroll of potential dates available on the apps. Many users become frustrated with the time they spend swiping online, compared to the time they spend actually going on dates.

“From a pure numbers perspective, of a hypothetical 10 people you match with, you’ll probably have a solid conversation with seven or eight,” says Hong. “Of those seven to eight, you might net out at like one or two [in-person dates].”

These days, however, single people are hard-pressed to not engage with the world of online dating – even though many know it’s hard work, and potentially disappointing. According to a 2019 study, online dating has become a much more likely way to meet a partner than a chance encounter.

Yet it can take a toll: a recent survey from UK-based dating app Badoo showed more than three-quarters of singles felt burnt out by unrewarding interactions and inappropriate matches from platforms and apps. Research from Hinge also found a significant portion of its users (61%) were overwhelmed by the modern dating process, and an April 2022 US study showed four in five adults “experienced some degree of emotional fatigue or burnout from online dating”.

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