The internet has enabled us to connect with scores of people across the globe that we couldn’t have dreamed of contacting before the mid 1990s. So, with the ability to interact with so many others, why is dating still so hard? Shouldn’t we be able to find our perfect match?
My Grandparents were married over 70 years. They died together in their 90s. Chances are your grandparents have a similar story. Why did this bond last? Were they especially lucky? Did they search for their soulmate far and wide?
No. Quite the opposite. Two generations back, people largely didn’t have the ability to look much further than their own towns to find a mate. Travel was expensive, and even communicating wasn’t realistic.
So, your Grandmother looked around her town at the 10-20 eligible men around her age. She discarded the options that were not attractive – he’s a drunk, this guy is just unattractive – and picked the best available to her. It was a manageable selection.
Now, we have access to almost literally everyone on the internet. We get on Match/OKCupid/Tinder and have literally thousands of people at our fingertips to pick from. The thinking then goes – certainly our perfect match is out there. We should be able to find the other half of our soul that fills us with a burning passion while also sharing every single one of our beliefs. If someone isn’t exactly perfect, they are easily discarded, because there are so many other options available. One of them must be the one.
Which of those two scenarios is crazier? As an analogy, there is a concept called “Choice Paralysis”. The idea is that we are okay at comparing a few things and making a decision about what would make us happier. If we need to choose between three detergents – perhaps a scented, non-scented, and one with fabric softener included – we can make a decision about which we would most like.
Most of us assume more choice is better. So keep adding scents and options. However, at some point we tip the scale and become less satisfied. With too many choices, we get overwhelmed. We can’t spend our whole lives comparing detergents. So, we pick one, but if we aren’t completely satisfied we think there was probably an option that was better, still on the shelf. Even if we are satisfied, we can’t help but think there was a better option we overlooked – one that was cheaper or smelled better for example. Sound familiar?