Dating is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

I'm a woman in my late 30s. I've had some serious and not-so-serious relationships in the past. I'm currently single and looking for something real. I'm not interested in FWB or a hookup at this point. I'm not necessarily looking for marriage, but I am looking for someone who will want to be together. The issue? Where do I find someone? I've tried the apps – Bumble, Match, Plenty of Fish. I've asked my friends, almost all of whom are happily in relationships. I've joined new and different activities. I've met some guys. I’ve gone on some dates. But the overwhelming majority of men I'm meeting have the same goals – nothing serious, just casual, a total hookup. And, in a lot of situations, they're "married but unhappy." That's not for me.

It's been a solid two years that I've been looking for a potential partner, after working on myself to be the "best me I can be" with therapy and self-reflection. I've been both active and passive in my looking. And it's frustrating to put myself out there and consistently get the same result. I mean, at what point does it become actual insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Most recently, I matched with someone on Bumble. We chatted on the app for a while, exchanged numbers to start texting, and he was the one that initiated actual phone conversations and FaceTime. I was excited about this prospect – single, never married, no kids, good job, educated, family-oriented. The issue? He was always too busy to meet for a real date. The final straw? He blocked me! Two days after we had an awesome FaceTime conversation. I just wanted to try and make plans to actually meet in person. What's upsetting was that he was always very honest and open about being busy and his life situation. Just when I thought I had found someone/something worth pursuing, it ended the same way as all the others. I'm getting frustrated and disappointed. I know there are people out there, but where are they? I'm doing all the typical things and not getting any results. What am I missing?

– Dating


We're focusing the second season of the Love Letters podcast on this very issue – meeting people – so I might have different and better answers in a few months. For now, all I can tell you is that you're not overlooking some magic way to meet a partner. So much of this is about luck and other intangible things. I wish it were easier.

That "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result" quote doesn’t hold up when it comes to dating. It sort of doesn't hold up, in general, but it makes no sense at all when it comes to meeting people. And remember: You're not doing the same thing over and over. Every time you get on Bumble, you're in a different mood and have come to the table with different experiences. Every time you hop on an app or ask a friend for a setup, you're fine-tuning the process.

One thing to remember is that you can take breaks. I truly believe that when you're feeling this way – when you want to throw your phone across the room because you're so sick of swiping – you should ignore the apps for a bit. Even though Bumble is available to you 24 hours a day, you can ignore it and start again when you're feeling fresh.

As for that man who blocked you, here's the lesson: He might have been super excellent on paper and in messages, but that doesn't always translate to being right for you in real life. Just remember that some of the people who don't check every box – or might not be able to pull off good FaceTime – might be really great in person. I know you probably know that, but sometimes it helps to be reminded.

– Meredith

Readers? Are you running into people on apps who are "married and unhappy"?