Dating trends seem to literally never end. From ghosting to benching, breadcrumbing to zombieing, there's basically a term to cover every relationship behaviour out there. The newest of the bunch is "whelming", and what started as a simple dating trend is actually a symptom of a much wider problem. Here's everything you need to know about whelming.
WHAT IS WHELMING?
Whelming is basically when your dating app matches complain to you about how overwhelmed they are by the amount of other matches they're getting.
"They're essentially bragging about how attractive they are and making you feel you should be grateful that they're even engaging with you," says Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert for LoveHoney.
OkCupid's dating expert Michael Kaye calls this a form of "humble-bragging." And while whelming can be really annoying when it's done by someone who's already on the larger-ego side of things, whelming is actually a symptom of a real problem for lots of people trying to navigate modern dating. For many of us, monotonous swiping and the endless potential of thousands of matches can genuinely feel too overwhelming.
WHY DO WE FEEL SO OVERWHELMED BY MODERN DATING?
The short answer: technology is to blame. New research from Compare the Market found that single people should be using 5 to 6 dating apps to be in with the best chance of finding love. That's a lot of swiping.
But while online dating used to be just a niche corner of the internet, widespread use of dating apps is still a relatively new phenomenon, says Annabelle. There's a specialist dating app for anything you might want, whether it's simply sex, someone in the same industry as you, or someone you've crossed paths with IRL.
"It has never been easier to hook up with a new partner," says Annabelle. "But all that choice can feel overwhelming. You have a fridge full of food but you're not hungry."
Having so much choice also means that we've become extra picky. On sites like OkCupid, you can choose your compatibility based on having similar views on just about everything, says Michael. But the amount of choice we've got means that narrowing down a "perfect" partner is basically impossible, making us feel more defeated by dating altogether.
WAYS TO COPE WITH FEELING OVERWHELMED BY DATING
If you feel overwhelmed by dating, that's not to say you should pack it in altogether. There are plenty of different ways to manage feeling overwhelmed while still having fun.
Be more selective
Annabelle suggests limiting yourself to only five new matches a week, that way you can "set the bar high" and only match with people you really fancy.
Ration your screen time
As well as limiting your matches, Annabelle recommends allowing yourself just 15 minutes of dating app swiping a day, meaning you avoid getting stuck in the old scroll hole.
Don't rely on dating apps for finding a partner
Make sure you're still open to meeting a partner IRL as well, instead of putting too much emphasis on dating apps. "There's nothing wrong with old-fashioned dating," says Annabelle. "Get out there and use your peer group to find a good match. Join a gym, try new hobbies. Your friends know far more about what you're really looking for than a dating app does."
Don't swipe late at night
A surefire way to have a bad night's sleep is to start swiping right before you go to sleep, says Annabelle. "Soon your heading will be buzzing and it will be impossible to settle down. Don’t touch your phone at least an hour before you go to bed," she suggests.
Don't take dating too seriously
Remember that dating is supposed to be fun, says Michael. "If you’re someone who gets nervous before a first-date, ask your match to jump on the phone or FaceTime beforehand! This will really help alleviate some of those first-date jitters," he suggests.
WOMEN WHO'VE BEEN OVERWHELMED BY DATING EXPLAINS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE
"I worry about being used," says Plum, 23
"90 percent of the dates I've ever been on have come from online dating, but I've always felt overwhelmed by it. Men tend to want to go into sixth gear before they've even gone into first. A lot of the time their intentions are all about sex, so I get worried about whether I'm being used or whether they're genuinely interested.
"I cope with it by just being myself and discarding each person who I know isn't right for me. I try my hardest to not let it put me off dating altogether."
"Online dating feels like a second job," says Lucia*, 21
"When I opened my phone to a red notification of 116 unread Hinge messages the other day, I realised my dating app habits were getting ridiculous. Online dating had begun to feel like a second job. I felt like I was coming home from answering emails all day at work to answering more messages at home. But I've only ever actually met up with one person from an app (and they were someone I'd met IRL before anyway). I still play at swiping online but I don't genuinely think I'll ever make it to meeting up with someone, which is why all the swiping feels futile."
"Having so many options is a blessing and a curse," says Jess, 22
"Before I joined Tinder, I was used to only dating one person at once. Suddenly, I was getting loads of messages all at the same time, which felt really overwhelming.Having so many options is both a blessing and a curse. A lot of boys are only on Tinder for one thing, and I think apps still have a reputation for hookups instead of relationships. On Tinder, I found I had to filter through a lot of red flags, but I persisted because I really wanted to meet a boyfriend.
"I eventually ended up meeting my boyfriend on a night out. We went on a date the following day and three years later we've just got our own flat together. I feel lucky that I met my boyfriend that way and didn't have to stick with apps. When I look at my friends on dating apps now, I don't envy them."
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.