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ADHD and dating apps

‘I hit a wall of overstimulation’

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. I’ll be honest with you — I hate dating apps. They burn me out to the extreme. I have ADHD, so apps like Tinder and Bumble supply dopamine hits for my dopamine-deficient brain, but then I either hit a wall of overstimulation or the dopamine stops hitting the way it used to. I’ve used apps on and off since I was 17, and I’m 23 now. I deleted all my dating apps about eight months ago, and while I love living without the overwhelming stimuli and the FOMO (fear of missing out) that comes with using the apps (like forgetting to reply to the point of the other person un-matching), not using them also comes with its own FOMO. I’ve concluded that the day or two of dating dopamine is no longer worth the monthlong burnout. But I can’t help but feel like if I’m not on dating apps, I won’t meet anyone.



A. It sounds like dating apps give you the worst kind of dating fatigue. It’s great you know that. (Yay for self-awareness.)

That said, if you’re really worried about meeting people and want to be on apps for that practical reason (as opposed to the rush), there are some options for less stimulation. Some apps are designed to limit your browsing options to a few people a day. Last I checked, Coffee Meets Bagel was one of them. In real life, at a party, you wouldn’t evaluate 40 to 100 people as potential dates. Maybe you’d talk to a few people and move on. That’s a small rush. If you can replicate that experience online, it might be better for your brain. Look for apps that set boundaries for you.

Remember that people do meet in real life. This is a great time to tell people you’re open to setups. Maybe team up with a few friends and think about ways to introduce each other to new people in your larger communities.


It might also help to focus on an activity you love and broaden your world, even with friends. That’s a great feeling — doing something fun with good company. Sometimes it leads to more.



Dating apps burn everyone out. I think it’s a lot easier to meet people organically when you’re in college or just after college so maybe you could focus more on expanding your friend circles or engaging in activities you actually enjoy. If you feel like you have to use the apps, I’d suggest limiting yourself to just one of them.


I’m too old and married too long to know anything about dating apps but I’ll share what a young guy near me has been doing, and it seems like a great idea. He’s 30ish, single, lives in a house in a nearby neighborhood. A few times a year he posts on the NextDoor app that he’s hosting a party for anyone who wants to come by. BYOB (I think he puts out a keg and some food but people bring stuff or leave some cash). It’s open to anyone, he says come to meet neighbors, make new friends, bring friends from elsewhere, whatever. Really outgoing, friendly guy, great at connecting people with people. I hear each time over 100 people show up. I know of several people who go there to meet people to date and I think it’s really worked out for them. It’s not the pressure or expense of being at a bar all night, and it’s certainly more personable than dating apps.



When I was dating, I was on a lot of apps, and saw the same people on all of them. I eventually met someone organically. Get a part-time job at a bar or coffee shop where you can meet people your own age. Go to Meetup events (yes, this is an app but not a dating app) and go hiking or whatever you enjoy doing. Lots of ways to meet people that don’t include dating apps.


Recommendation: Stay off the apps and learn to live with the FOMO.


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