Options – they’re fun to have, but don’t let them paralyze you, or distract you from what you really want.
There’s a classic study on choice that shows that though humans tend to think more choices are better, there is a tipping point where too many choices can be paralyzing (Sheena Iyengar, Columbia University, 1995). Here’s an except from an article on it in 2010:
In a California gourmet market, Professor Iyengar and her research assistants set up a booth of samples of Wilkin & Sons jams. Every few hours, they switched from offering a selection of 24 jams to a group of six jams. On average, customers tasted two jams, regardless of the size of the assortment, and each one received a coupon good for $1 off one Wilkin & Sons jam.
Here’s the interesting part. Sixty percent of customers were drawn to the large assortment, while only 40 percent stopped by the small one. But 30 percent of the people who had sampled from the small assortment decided to buy jam, while only 3 percent of those confronted with the two dozen jams purchased a jar.
If you do the math, 1.8% of customers bought from the 24 jam selection; 12% bought from the 6 jam selection. That’s a 666% difference. The sin of envy in a diabolical number.
This is the problem of online dating in a nutshell. If you’re not careful, it feels like there’s always someone a little bit better waiting around the corner. Don’t settle! Look where the grass is greener, it could be yours! Forgetting, of course, that it’s not just about what you want, or who you want – who wants you? What do they want? Do these desires and preferences overlap? Because if they don’t, you are in for a world of disappointment.
It’s funny when I read manosphere blogs. They’re just as bad as ultra-feminist blogs. “Fat chicks, they’re ugly, they should lose some weight to attract men.” “The Patriarchy, putting us down, I refuse to shave my armpits in protest because a real man will adore my feminine sweat!” As though there is a right or wrong way to be. There are only effective and ineffective ways to be, depending on what you want. Are you a good match for what you desire? That is the thing to focus on. Or are you a mismatch?
I have certain options–less than some, more than others. I am 40 – is this a bad thing or a good thing? Depends on the audience. For a 25 year old guy, this a liability. For a 50 year old, this is a nice “younger” age. I’m not looking for a 25 year old, so being rejected by a 25 year old doesn’t even come into my consciousness. It’s completely irrelevant.
I have kids – some guys would consider this also a liability. So what? I’m not looking for guys that hate kids or want their own biological kids. Again, a mismatch that I don’t care about. And personally, all other things being equal, I would prefer a man divorced with kids, if only because he would understand the trials and tribulations that come along with that.
Dating is not about a single ranking number, it’s more a list of attributes that fit with a potential partner’s priorities and interests. If I was filling out a character sheet for my dating prospects, it might look like this:
Nokomis – Ranger Class
Height/weight proportionate and works out: +10 in physical attractiveness
New England [Yankee] honesty: -4 in Midwest social graces
Wear glasses: -2 in facial attractiveness
Bellydance proficiency: +5 in gracefulness. +3 in sexual attractiveness (based on male fantasies)
Intelligence: +5 in conversation; subclass: interesting topics
Humor: Highly variable. +10 for deviant freaks like me who are not easily offended. -10 for those who only like good clean fun.
So, for the right guy, I’m a perfect match. For the wrong guy, I am not what he wants. That’s okay. I am looking for someone specific, someone extraordinary. I want to adventure on a life quest, and my character should complement theirs. I don’t care that what I’m looking for is a small pool of people. I’m looking for a real match–I don’t even need 6 jams. I only need one.