‘Love Island’ Syndrome: the 6 stages of casual dating

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Love Island syndrome casual dating

Beyond the dates and drama, Love Island showcases patterns of casual dating behaviour that can sabotage our chances of finding lasting love, both on and off-screen. Dr Linda Papadopolous explains the six stages you need to know – and how to break to cycle

1. The Sign-up

The cycle begins when the newly single decide they are ready to find love again. If you’re fresh from a break-up and considering signing up to an online dating site – or reactivating your old profiles – then you’re at this stage. And just like Love Island’s Kendall, it might all be too much, too soon.

Unfortunately, many dating apps require little to no time or effort to get started so it can be tempting to start dating again before you’re ready. In fact, eharmony’s research found that 44% of Brits reactivate their profiles within three months of a break-up and 15% wait just one week!

2. The Quantity Fallacy

When it comes to dating, more doesn’t always mean more. It’s all about quality rather than quantity. It’s all too easy to get distracted by the hundreds of options, literally at your fingertips, and start playing the numbers game. In fact, over a third of people eharmony surveyed believe the more dates they go on, the more chance they have of finding lasting love.

Value your time and your energy and only commit to dates with people that you believe you could be truly compatible with. There’s no shame in going on less dates if those dates are better dates.

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3. The Hollywood Complex

Everyone loves a good rom-com, but the problem with these Hollywood romances is that they are setting us up with unrealistic expectations. We look for people who sweep us off our feet rather than those that we’re compatible with. Just look at the coupling between Eyal and Meghan on Love Island, a relationship that is quickly falling apart as its participants realise their connection is purely physical.

And they’re not alone; 77% of people in eharmony’s survey said that physical appearance is one of the top three most important factors when looking for love. It’s important to shift your focus away from distal factors like physical appearance and location and look instead at proximal factors like interests, values and outlook.

4. Mini-mances

Coupling up with singles you’re not compatible with often leads to a series of short-lived unsuccessful relationships – or mini-mances. Almost a third of people who have met someone online fail to make it past the six-month mark and half of 18-34-year olds dating online haven’t had a relationship last longer than a year.

5. Rejection = Dejection

The result of all these short-term failed romances and multiple bad dates is that singles start to feel dejected and worry whether they’ll ever be able to find love. It can take just three bad dates in a row for people to start feeling this way.

Love Island’s Alex is a prime example of someone that is close to giving up after failing to find someone compatible with him. The way that he has lost confidence in himself and taken to asking advice from others before every interaction betrays his dejected state of mind.

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6. Dating Burnout

Dating burnout is unfortunately quite common among people looking for love and dating regularly. This is the stage in the cycle when people start to feel fed up about dating and seemingly getting nowhere. 1 in 5 singles stuck in this stage say they would give up online dating entirely and over a third report needing to take a break.

Shake it off

So, how can you break the cycle? The only way is to change your own behaviour – it all starts with you. It’s easy to keep repeating the same patterns and get stuck in bad habits but the more effort you put in to finding lasting love, the more you’ll get out of it. Forget taking a hurried and indiscriminate approach to dating and take the time to think about what you really want and need in a partner.


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