This post originally appeared on The Date Report.
Look, I get it. You're doing everything you can. You're dating online, you say yes to any and all party invites, you've gone to every trivia night this godforsaken city has to offer. You believe your next Beloved is out there, but the process of finding him or her...lord, it's just so exhausting. I sympathize, as I have ridden the dark, surging wave we call dating burn-out. If you're like me and have reached a point where dating has ceased to be fun, and has turned into a grueling slog across an arid desert of small talk and apathetic text exchanges, here are some suggestions that I have found helpful to heal thyself of dating burn-out:
1. Give Yourself A Deadline.
There is a certain brand of insanity that infects the human brain and convinces intelligent people that if they aren't actively trying to locate their next boyfriend/girlfriend/earth mate, they will end up forever alone. This is hogwash and I blame the magazine industry. As part of your burn-out recovery, do not even think about dating for the rest of this [week, month, sentence, whatever amount of time feels good to you]. The fact is, you will not miss out on the love of your life by taking some time to get your poor exhausted mind right. Nay, it is only by getting your mind right that you will be able to be excited about dating again! Pick a date in your Google Calendar somewhere in the future, start your break from dating and just...
2. Give Up.
Well, not give up give up. I used to be baffled when I heard people say, "I'm taking a break from dating." How does someone take a break from finding love, I wondered? Aren't most of us hardwired to constantly seek out affection and companionship? Does the sun take a break from shining? Does a double rainbow take a break from being amazing? Such is Mango. (Side note: Do people still remember Chris Kattan as SNL's Mango? As a follow-up question, should they? Please discuss.) When I say "give up," I guess what I'm saying is "temporarily give up the immense expenditure of romantic mental energy that has lead to your dating burn-out." All the Facebook stalking, all the lingering eye contact at bars, all of the fantasizing: just stop for a bit, alright? I'm not saying blow off a cool person if you meet him/her. I'm saying stop all the behavior that constitutes "dating" unless that behavior is "actually interacting with a real person." Which leads me to another important aspect of overcoming dating burn-out...
3. Stop Trying To Look Good.
Truly the most fun part of your recuperation! What it is you feel like you "need" to do in order to be attractive to potential romantic partners, knock it off, just for a bit. Venture outside with your eyes unlined, even if you're 100% certain it makes you look like a human-turtle hybrid. Embrace your neckbeard, and let your neckbeard embrace you. Grow those eyebrows together, wear the same shirt two days in a row (provided only one of them is a work day) and let the shlumpadinka that you normally trap below a layer of concealer and/or cologne loose on the city. If you aren't dressing to impress, you can mentally focus on something other than impressing. That is to say, letting it all hang out is a helpful way to let your brain reset from "constant dating" mode. Another great way to reset?
4. Do You.
Hey, remember that project you've trying to finish for the last five years of your life but have never had time ? Guess what: you're about to get it done. It's not that you have a lot more time on your hands now that you are not dating for a hot second. It's that you have so much more free mental space now that you aren't actively trying to hunt down your soulmate! So finish that damn screenplay/video project/DIY bookcase you read about on Buzzfeed already. When you get it done, you'll feel proud and energized, a benefit unto itself as well as a boon for your self-esteem when you do eventually return to all those trivia night. Plus if there are any carpentry-related questions, now maybe you'll know them! I mean, probably not, but hey/
5. Go On A Ton Of Friend Dates.
Remember that affection and companionship you crave like Mango craves victory over Jennifer Lopez? (Jesus, it is REALLY difficult to find video of Mango sketches online.) Use your break from dating to put in face time with all the wonderful faces you love but never get to see. Not only is it a great use of your newly-liberated mental energy, but also a great reminder that you live in a world that contains many beautiful, hilarious amazing weirdos. If these weirdos exist, then your weirdo is probably out there too. Or normal person. Whatever you're into, no judgement.
6. Talk To People You Know You Won't Like.
If you have a type of human you are normally attracted to in a social setting, please ignore those urges and talk to someone else. Now is the time for you to open yourself up to the company of guys/girls/people who might not normally be your type. You aren't trying to date anyone, so you are free to focus on all that your fellow humans have to offer, regardless of whether or not you want to put your mouth on their mouth, your unmentionables on their unmentionables.
7. But Also, You Know, Go On A Date If You Want.
Despite your thick mustache, smell of bookshelf varnish and busy schedule of friend-pointments, you may find yourself on a date when you having date burn-out. Honestly, if my experience is any indication, you DEFINITELY will. If your tired, bleached brain is having a hard time getting excited yet again at the prospect of love, try to recognize said date for what it is: a chance to get to know someone interesting, rather than an interview of someone trying to be your next everything. Is a dating technically both those things? Of course it is, but jeez. Give your overloaded love zombie brain a break. One step at a time.
More than anything else, it's important to just take a minute and relax when you feel like you just cannot deal with any more mediocre dates and/or crushing disappointments. Does Serena Williams win Wimbledon every day? No, because her body would completely disintegrate from too much wear and tear. You are the Serena Williams of love, and as such must take a breather before getting back out there. Breathe, and let the spirit of Mango help you through these trying times.