Why keeping your options open is ruining dating. Dating just isn’t what it used to be. My mom used to talk about “going steady,” and I had people call me on the phone to ask me out. You might be more used to drop a pin to your friends on first dates because of #safetyfirst.
Gen Xers and Millennials “hang out,” “hook up” and possibly “catch feelings.” They’re dating longer, marrying later and having fewer children. The trend suggests that what once was courtship is now replaced with a more casual approach. You can swipe all day, grab a drink with five people a week, and still feel like you haven’t met your partner.
So … how is keeping your options open working for you? And how can you move from meet-cute to happily ever after?
The Paradox of Choice
In many ways keeping your options open is a bit like the paradox of choice. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University studied sales of jam at two different tables on a typical day at the farmers market. One had 24 different kinds of jam, and the other table only had six choices.
While the table of 24 attracted more interest initially, the table of six jams was 10 times more likely to result in a sale! Not only that, but customer satisfaction at the larger table was much lower. So not only were people less likely to buy but also they were more disappointed in their options.
Does that sound like your dating experience? You’re not alone.
On dating apps, it can feel like there are endless potential partners! The next person could be even better than the last! There are no geographical limits, you can DM all day, and the only thing keeping you from meeting more people is swipe fatigue and your wifi connection.
This is dating’s paradox of choice. When supply is high, we become less satisfied with our options, and less invested in the journey. Why would you invest in someone when there could be someone better next week? And of course, why would someone invest in you?
More choices for a partner can make us less likely to choose anyone.
Ready For the Good News?
The very existence of dating apps shows that humans still desire to be connected. As coronavirus has required that we social distance and self-isolate, more people are joining virtual happy hours, dance classes, and video calls.
We crave connection. And while technology is awesome in a lot of ways, perhaps we need to take a note from our grandparents and be more intentional about dating. Instead of mindlessly swiping right, consider taking a less-is-more attitude.
Remember the jam? Even if it feels like you have all the time in the world, it’s the quality of connection that matters, not the endless pursuit of a “better deal.” By narrowing your choices to the more manageable number of six, you might feel more intrigued by who you choose to connect with (online or IRL).
Want more helpful tips? Take my Love Styles Quiz! It’s only five minutes to forever. 🙂
Let’s do this, Lovely!
Diane, The Back to Love Doc