More people than ever are now looking for love online, using an array of dating sites and mobile apps like Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, Tinder, and Bumble, not to mention an ever-growing list of specialty sites for every race, religion and gender.
A recent Pew Research Center survey said that nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults agreed online dating was a good way to meet people.
But, for some, online dating has now taken an unwelcome left turn resembling a sort of “dating burnout or fatigue,” characterized by a seemingly endless string of dates that yield few returns.
Susanne Sahakian, a 52-year-old ER nurse from Queens, NY, said that most of her online dates “were just nightmares.”
“I met a midget on one date, a homeless musician who asked if he could sleep in my car on another and yet another guy who was extremely overweight,” she said.
She also added that still others try and "hook-up" on the first date, despite being told that is not an option.
Some issues “fatigued daters” have described include people using phony/inaccurate pictures; dishonesty about marital status as well as others who simply “play games” online and aren’t looking for a significant other.
Scott Valdez, founder of Virtualdatingassistants.com, said that the seemingly endless options online can add to dater’s confusion.
“In a mega-city like NYC, there are thousands upon thousands of local singles using dating sites and apps,” Valdez said. "Having the illusion of that much choice can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you fall into the trap of feeling there might be someone even better if you just keep swiping."
Further adding to some dater’s notion of online dating fatigue are estimates by the New York Times that Tinder users spend close to 90 minutes each day on the app. That kind of time investment translates to about 10.5 or 11 hours per week—roughly equal to a part-time job.
Randi, 28, who works in marketing and has been on the NYC online dating scene since roughly 2009, said that “frustration and fatigue” are common threads online.
“I’ve had lots of first dates, but then people 'ghost,' or disappear. ... It’s very exhausting and definitely feels at times like a full-time job,” said Randi, who admitted to going online at least 10 hours per week.
She recalled one date who admitted trafficking drugs into the country from Mexico.
"Success online ebbs and flows," she said. "It takes a long time before you meet someone you really like," she adds.
Asked for tips, Randi said it’s basically a numbers game.
“Swipe right a lot, send lots of messages ... even if they're generic. I found most will respond or not based on good, attractive photos, so don't waste too much time trying to be witty and clever.”
New York-based relationship and etiquette expert April Masini advised online daters to be honest about who you are and what you offer.
“For instance, don’t say you’re svelte if you’re not,” she says. “If you’ve been divorced four times, don’t say you’ve never been married.”
She also added that to avoid online burnout or fatigue, give things a rest.
“Don’t use every free moment of your spare time trolling dating sites and apps,” she said.
“Instead, schedule a few times during the week when you can go online or on your app. When you’re constantly online looking for dates — you’re going to burn out.”
Rita Tassiello, a teacher from NYC, had her own take on why online dating can be rough.
“The problem with online dating,” she said, “is that there is a multitude of people out there and because of the many options, online dating can be confusing, tedious and exhausting. One wrong thing you dare to say and there's no mercy, no room for second chances... you are automatically.... NEXT!!!”
But, she added that persistence can pay off in the end.
“With some luck and hard work I truly believe the person you are looking for is out there ... My advice is don't give up. Love is too beautiful to give up on.”