Dating World SNAFU's
In the past, I have worked with a lot of singles who discussed their struggles in the dating world. A common theme during these sessions emerged.
Many of my clients talked about how hard it was to find a mate or long-term relationship in the new digital age. A big issue was that of choice. In the age of internet dating, our choices greatly expanded. Sites such as eHarmony and Match.com have been popular for a number of years but now they are becoming obsolete, like placing a want ad in the newspaper. Mobile apps such as Tinder are replacing these traditional dating websites for those under thirty. NPR recently published an article on the popularity of these dating apps.
What struck me about the article was the complaint by one interviewee about the amounts of choices one could choose from and how overwhelming it could be. The article hinted at the ease one could use the app in order to look for sex but not so much for long-term, meaningful relationships. Then again, I remember people making these comments about sites like Match.com over ten years ago. What I found interesting was the idea that dates who were interested in long-term relationships found the apps overwhelming. How does one choose when there are so many choices? What if I make the wrong choice? What someone out there is better than my current mate? I'm sure people who have paired up have always asked these questions but prior to the internet, your options were much more limited and you didn't have access to immediate potentials. When you had such thoughts, you could not start checking out other profiles (and thanks to mobile GPS, their location) on your phone.
In social psychology, the concept of choice has been studied for a number of years. In fact, one social psychologist, Barry Schwartz wrote a book on this issue: The Paradox of Choice. In Schwartz's view, having too many choices available makes us unhappy with our lot in life. Although many researchers have disputed Schwartz's study and findings. However, anecdotally, I have observed this issue time and again with my clients...especially in relation to dating. Perhaps instead of bouncing from relationship to relationship, a better idea is for us to turn inward. In other words, move from the external (looking at profiles to replace my current lover) to the internal (why am I unhappy with the person I'm with...is it really them or me?).
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