10 Signs You May Want To Press Pause On Your Love Life

Just like in the workplace, burnout is all too real in the dating world. Though we're conditioned to think finding The One (if you believe in that kind of thing) should be something we're constantly striving for and focused on, sometimes it's actually better for us to take a step back. "Like anything in life, we might need to take a break, refocus our attention and think about the impact that dating is having on our mental and emotional health," relationships expert Kate Moyle explained to Metro. "Dating can take a lot of time out of our calendars, and we may want to invest some of that time into our existing relationships which are already feeding us, like those with friends and family where we feel loved and appreciated."


But dating can be stressful enough at the best of times, so how on earth do you know when it's time to press pause on your dating life? Well, there are a few signs to look out for to keep your dating life as healthy as possible. 

Constantly comparing yourself to those around you

It's always vital to remember, with anything in life, that your timeline is your own. There's no age limit on love, so if you find yourself furiously dating anyone and everyone just because otherwise you might be the only single one in your friend group otherwise, it's time to take a break to recalibrate what you actually want from your love life. "What can often happen is that we get preoccupied with passing windows or periods of time, and we can feel this even more intensely if we see friends or family going through relationship stages and feel that we are being left behind," relationships expert Kate Moyle admitted to Metro.


As psychologist Ash King explained to Refinery29, particularly if you feel you're being constantly bombarded with weddings or engagements and baby announcements, "It's easy to feel isolated when you aren't doing what others or doing — and it might feel isolating to be single, especially in social scenarios when everyone is all loved up." It's vital you remind yourself that these feelings are totally normal and valid, and taking a step back from dating can only help recalibrate your feelings. That way, when you sign back into the apps or take a chance on asking out that cute person at the airport, you'll have a much healthier mindset about what you're looking for without it being skewed by the life stages those around you are currently in.


There's a disconnect between you and your friends and family

"Sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees if dating isn't going anywhere, and it's a useful reminder that we are loved in other ways," relationships expert Kate Moyle told Metro. If so much of your time is spent dating that you're not cherishing the platonic relationships in your life, it's probably time to put the apps down and take a break. The same can be said if the dating world is leaving you feeling disheartened and you need a little love and support from the people who know you the best.


Refocusing that time on your friends and family will not only give you a confidence boost to get back out there, but, if you feel you need it, you can get some dating advice from those who have already been through it. Or not! You may prefer to use this time to forget the dating world even exists and take your mind off things. Either way, though, just make sure you're doing what's best for you to be able to date in a healthy way. "A break should be as long as it needs to be for you to fall back in love with yourself or fall in love with yourself for the first time. You can establish contentment in life when you love who you are inside and out," life coach Carmen Parks told Bustle.

You feel addicted to dating apps

Taking a dating break may not mean putting the brakes on completely when it comes to meeting and talking to people, it could just mean you need to step back and reevaluate the way you're going about meeting folks. These days, apps are one of the most common ways to try and find a partner, but they can also be totally addictive. "Some really enjoy the dopamine hit from getting a positive comment when searching dating sites. And while dopamine addiction isn't a real addiction, it can still lead to compulsive habits that can add to stress," dating expert Ness Cooper told Stylist. In cases like these, dating can slowly seep into every hour of every day, even though you're not physically on a date. If you find yourself reaching for the likes of Tinder or Bumble constantly in your spare time, you may want to temporarily remove them to keep your social life in balance.


Uninstalling any and all dating apps could also be a good idea for anyone taking a more severe break from the dating world so you don't slip back into old habits too soon. "Since we always have our phones on us, getting rid of the apps is an easy first step in getting rid of the temptation to stay in the dating scene when you're on a break," certified personal coach and life strategist Danielle Gibson suggested to Stylecaster.

Dating is taking up too much space in your head

Does it feel like dating is taking over your whole life to the point where it's starting to affect other areas? Then it's probably time to press the pause button — at least for a little while. "If dating has become your overwhelming focus, you might find it helpful to give it some space and revisit other things that build you up, interest and bring you joy," relationships expert Kate Moyle told Metro. "Often we can get a bit stuck down the rabbit hole and coming back up makes us realize that there are so many other ways to enjoy ourselves," she added.


By shifting the focus off of dating and instead spending a little more time by yourself or doing things you love (even if that's just enjoying a night in with your favorite snack) you'll feel more connected to yourself and what you want in a partner. As relationship expert and author, Susan Winter told Time, relationships and dating can take up more room in your head than you might think, so staying away from the dating scene for a while can give you a clearer head and a sharper focus going forward. "Intimacy and partnership takes up a lot of space in our heads. Even though much of this is happening unconsciously, there's simply a lesser capacity for individually focused thought," she explained.


You're getting down on yourself

There's no doubt dating can leave you on the highest of highs as well as the lowest of lows. But if it feels like those lows are coming more frequently than the highs, stop what you're doing. It goes without saying that not everyone is going to be for everyone, and that's okay, but that means rejection is just going to be inevitable in the world of love, and sometimes a dating break can help you handle it better. "Dating is human trial and error, and whilst we can all be going into dating with that awareness, it doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt any less when it happens. Like a physical wound, we have to give ourselves rest and healing time," relationships expert Kate Moyle explained while speaking to Metro.


The same can be said if you're starting to lose hope of finding someone you connect with. "Hope is a big component in dating. If things aren't going well, taking a break can help keep the hopeful feeling alive, driving you to continue toward your goals," certified personal coach and life strategist Danielle Gibson told Stylecaster. "A break is essential when you get caught up in negative feelings. It's easy to lose your sense of self-worth, and your self-esteem can plummet," they added. "This can prevent you from meeting someone who's good for you — and have a bad effect on other parts of your life."

Dating isn't fun anymore

We know it's a bit of an old cliché, but dating really should be fun. If it isn't anymore, then why the heck would you even want to be doing it in the first place? If you feel like you're having to really psych yourself up to talk to or meet up with someone, or you're totally dreading Friday night knowing you've set up a date, that's a sign it's break time. Licensed love and relationship therapist Esther Boykin shared with 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."


Taking a break in this situation should help the whole process feel less mundane when you decide to get back into it, potentially bringing back that excitement you once felt. "It comes down to feeling hopeful that the right person is there. Many people aren't dating with the stance of, 'I'm going to meet the right person.' They're just doing it for the sake of doing it," therapist Monica Vermani shared with Insider.

You've lost yourself

Before you started dating, you probably had a pretty good idea of what you wanted in a partner and what you would and wouldn't be willing to tolerate. But as you head out on more dates, it can be easy to lose yourself. Sometimes, that means your perception becomes skewed so you start to accept behaviors or do things you never thought you would. As soon as this happens, particularly if you're repeatedly faced with behaviors you wouldn't be happy with your friends experiencing, take that break. As certified personal coach and life strategist Danielle Gibson told Stylecaster, "The most important thing women need to do is stay true to what they want. If they know what they want in a partner, they need to commit to that — don't just go out with someone because they're good-looking. Pay attention to whether you feel a connection."


Life coach Carmen Parks agreed. "[If] you notice that you can't tell the difference between your thoughts and your partner's words, it's time to take a break. Especially if those thoughts/words make you feel badly about yourself. It's easy to rationalize it away or pretend like you don't notice, but know that those words are having a significant impact on your psyche and your self-esteem," Parks told Bustle. Don't get too down on yourself if this happens though, as it can be more common than you think. Just make sure you use your dating break to reaffirm your values.

Swiping is losing its appeal

For those doing the majority of their dating using apps, there's such a thing as dating app fatigue. That basically means you feel you're constantly swiping and swiping but never getting any closer to finding the person you want to be with. An anonymous dating expert LaLaLa LetMeExplain explained the concept to GQ, sharing, "People ultimately want long-lasting relationships and connections from the apps. Spending weeks, months, or years going 'round in circles to never eventually achieve the end goal is demoralizing. It begins to feel pointless." This can then lead to you swiping for people for the sake of it even though they're showing red flags. As Match chief dating expert Rachel DeAlto, put it to The Everygirl, "Do not date unless you are feeling positive about the process. You are likely doing more harm than good if you are burned out and still forcing yourself to get on the apps, message, and go out.


In cases like this, you might want to get rid of the apps for a while and instead focus on meeting people in real life. As relationship expert Laurie Davis Edwards explained to Style Caster, doing so will also help stop you from getting tunnel vision and instead be more open to a real-life meet cute. After all, if you're walking around with your head in your phone, you could miss the totally cute Starbucks barista giving you the eye when they hand you your order.

Dating is becoming too costly

Let's be honest, dating isn't always cheap. Of course, there is a slew of different ways to date without having to spend a whole lot of dough (like going on a romantic walk or attending free local events) but, as dates progress and you want to enjoy the traditional meal with a bottle of wine and then a trip to the movie theater afterward, it can quickly become pretty pricey. Particularly if you're doing this at least once a week with plans to see each other more regularly as things develop. That's why you may want to have a dating break if your finances are struggling until you're back on your feet, as money worries coupled with the stresses of dating (particularly if you're not having the most successful dates) can make for a dangerous combination. In fact, dating app Badoo found in a 2021 study that, on average, UK daters spent upwards of $361 every year on bad dates alone.


Though it goes without saying you should always be on the lookout for anyone who may only be with you because of your financial status, there's no doubting being more financially stable will give you a step-up when dating. As OkCupid Dating Coach told CNBC Select, "Daters who get better with their money will naturally attract better dating prospects because it is still one of the primary attractors in our society."

You're not dating for yourself

Because the world can seem so dating-centric and so many people, particularly of older generations, put such a value on a person having a partner, it can be easy to get yourself into an unhealthy dating situation because you want to make someone else happy. Like going on a date with your mom's hairdresser's son's cousin just because she asked you to. But when you date just because someone else wants it, it can become an obligation — which is never a great term in dating. Even though the person pushing you might have your best interests at heart, it's unlikely you're actually going to find the person for you in this kind of situation as your heart just won't be in it, and that probably means you won't be open to the experience. "If you're not in a good state of your own, you will find flaws, you will poke at people, and you will find yourself irritable," therapist Monica Vermani told Insider.


In this situation, taking a break from the dating scene will let you work out what you want rather than being so focused on what others want for you. Giving yourself a break will also provide you with something you can tell people when they try to set you up against your better judgment, as they should respect your choice to focus on yourself.