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It’s Complicated: Navigating Dating in 2023

No matter your age, dating feels much more complicated now than it did just a few years ago. We all desire healthy and loving relationships, but trying to find one sometimes feels messy, confusing, and complicated. A few reasons may be the limited free time we have, the lack of clear communication from the person across the table, or the roller coaster of being on dating apps. So, how do you navigate the world of dating in 2023 in a way that can reduce feelings of stress and frustration?

Navigating Dating Apps. Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, Match, Coffee Meets Bagel…the list goes on and on. One thing I often hear from clients who are on dating apps is how they feel overwhelmed with talking to so many people at once. It feels difficult to focus on intentionality when you may have seven matches talking to you at once. A helpful tip is to keep your focus on one person at a time. Sometimes, too many options can have negative consequences. A book called The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by psychologist Barry Scwartz speaks about the idea that too many options can lead to dissatisfaction, anxiety, and indecision. Talking to one person at a time and going on one date at a time may leave you feeling less anxious and more satisfied when using dating apps. If you don’t feel a connection with that person, you now have the clarity you need and can move on to the next potential date.

Know Your Values. As you enter the dating world, it’s good to know your values, so you know

what to look for in a potential partner. Some values that may come to mind include honesty, work-ethic, faith, integrity, respect, authenticity, discipline, teamwork, and communication. Are you looking for someone who has similar values to you? What values are important to you and what values are not? Knowing your own values will help you navigate what values you are looking for in a partner. Write down a list of the values you are looking for in a partner and see if any surprise you or confirm what you already knew.

Be patient. Trust me, I get it. That might be the last thing you want to hear, especially if you have been single for a longer period of time. Our culture has told us that relationships that are truly meant to be will happen quickly with immense passion and intensity. However, the truth is that long-lasting and fulfilling relationships take time to find and build. The slow burn of an authentic relationship often gives us the most joy and love. Remember to be patient with yourself and your future partner. When you do find them, it will always be worth the wait.

Dating in 2023 can be stressful and frustrating at times. We have more options of finding and meeting new people than we ever have before, but it also can feel more challenging than ever before. Navigating dating by focusing on one person at a time, knowing your values and what you are looking for ahead of time, and being patient in the process may help reduce some of the stress in the dating process.

By Austin Shugart, Ph.D, LPC

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