(Why the freedom of choice may be making you unhappy.)
Read Part One here…
If you grew up in a small town in America your options for a mate are significantly decreased. Depending on how big your town is, if you don’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend that you met in high school then you’re never going to meet someone. And there isn’t a constant flow of new people coming in to your town, it stays the same for the most part. So maybe you settle in to your job and start a family at a younger age than the current national average (which is steadily increasing). But you are content.
Now let’s say you live in a big city. You either grew up there or was ambitious enough to move there. In large cities there’s a lot more opportunity. We are constantly clawing away to advance at our jobs against the current competition all the while comparing ourselves to the success of our own friends. Your romantic life becomes secondary and on top of that, we now have an abundance of potential mates to choose from. What kind of spaghetti sauce do you want? Garden vegetable? Mushroom? Meat lovers? The options are endless. So what if the reason New York and Los Angeles are always leading the country in the amount of singles is because we can’t make a decision.
Granted, choosing whom you want to date is a lot more difficult then choosing a brand of spaghetti sauce but how different is it? There’s always going to be someone out there that’s prettier, taller, fitter, funnier, or provides a better economic advantage. On top of that we are all flawed in some way. So if we are all always constantly searching for the next best thing trying to maximize our decision then we will never settle, or should I say be content. There are so many people in this big city that we can never choose, and when we finally do, we may regret our decision when later comparing it to everything else out there. What if the reason you’re single is because you simply can’t make a decision?
You’re always waiting for the cuter and more suave guy to approach you at the bar. You’re always waiting for the prettier girl to sit next to you at the coffee shop. You’re always waiting for the man with a more stable career than “musician” to email you on OK Cupid. There’s always going to be someone else out there because big cities have so many people and there’s a constant influx of new people in the city and in to your life.
This is also the potential disadvantage to online dating. You have the option of maybe 10,000 people on whatever site you’re using. We can sift through human beings like we’re shopping for shoes on Zappos, and there’s an always regenerating crop of new styles.
So what’s the solution? For many it seems to be getting older and maturing. We get older and realize our prospects are declining, we’re suddenly at the age we want to settle down, or we finally realize how fickle we are then make a decision. The way eHarmony markets itself in commercials it’s the demographic of people that look like they have “given up”. Given up in the sense that they are going to imprint on the first person that smiles at them. If the person is reasonably attractive and willing to put up with the fact that he/she may be divorcee or have kids then why the hell not. We don’t want to brave this cruel world alone do we?
So the solution once again is to just make a decision and stick with it. Stick with it knowing that there’s always going to be someone hotter, richer, skinnier, funnier, or more confident out there. And realize that every time you hit a bump, you’re going to wonder and possibly regret the decision you made and want to break up or get a divorce. Especially when you contrast it to the beautiful novelty and honeymoon phase that a new mate can provide. So the clear and simple solution to the problem is to just make a decision on a mate and stick with it. But of course, that’s a lot easier said then done.
[Photo: View from the bleachers Highline Park in New York City, New York.]