Blindly Searching For Love

Last year for the first time, the number of unmarried American adults outnumbered those who were married.

One in 7 lives never put a ring on it, about 31 million compared with 4 million in 1950.The west is in the midst of a fundamental social and demographic shift.

“The greatest social change of the last 60 years that we haven’t already named and identified,” Eric Klinenberg, New York University

It is a shift that goes well beyond the dynamics of relationships. Our celibacy is affecting everything from housing and health care to child rearing and religious affiliations to education and social policies. But being the self-centered shitty human that I am, I only really care because it is affecting me.

But if I’m alone and you’re alone and 31 million of us are alone, why is it so difficult for us to get together?

There are plenty of fish in the sea

Thanks to dating apps, we are now equipped to put a number on how many fish are actually in the sea. There are more than 50 million active users on Tinder and over 20 million matches daily. But just because the fish are there does not mean they will ever see you. Or pay attention to you. What makes you different than any fish? What makes your bait special? Are you looking for a mate or a meal? If you’re fishing, how many years experience do you have under your belt? Does that really make you an expert? Do you have a good fishing reputation? Have you already fished in my shoal? Are you like Nemo, swimming around overly confused about the whole thing? Or are you like Dory, forgetting what it’s like to be with someone because you’ve been by yourself for so long?

Truth is, there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea. Your Tinder matches will run out. That back up plan you have will get married. The one who got away is getting further away every day. The perceived abundance online dating gives is a farce used to keep you swiping. This isn’t to say that online dating is useless or shameful, but perhaps our expectations of it are.Online dating has transformed all single folk into lazy fishermen with 20 lines+ in the water instead of Captain Ahab types focused on spearing just one elusive soul (mate).

But… why?

The Paradox of Choice

The idea of promising to spend my entire life with another person is probably as scary to me now as it was reading The Shining when I was 12. But I/we comfort ourselves into thinking that when the right pair cross paths, the result should be extraordinary. But truth is… we’re really awful at making choices. Ten years ago, Barry Schwartz, published The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is LessIf the title doesn’t sound familiar, the idea behind Schwartz’s argument is that instead of increasing our sense of well-being, an abundance of choice is increasing our levels of anxiety, depression, and wasted time. Whether you’re deliberating between breakfast cereals, what to watch on Netflix, career paths, pension plans, or lifetime partners, the amount of options out there can easily become overwhelming.

But even if we do make a choice, Schwartz argues, “we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from”.

When there are lots of alternatives to consider, it is easy to imagine the attractive features of alternatives that you reject that make you less satisfied with the alternative that you’ve chosen. Sometimes a lot is simply too much and can lead to choice paralysis. Choice paralysis is when one is so overwhelmed with choices that they are unable to weigh all the options and end up making the choice which takes the least mental effort — which often means not making a choice at all.

Each time you swipe left or right another picture fills its place. For the first 10 swipes, you might look, read a profile, and actually think about your decision. Then, your brain gets tired and wants to make the decision that takes the least amount of effort: swiping right. Alas, the “Swipe Right” strategy, also known as “Tinder Whoring”, is a prime example of choice paralysis in action. And from an evolutionary standpoint, this may not be a bad thing. If our ancestors obsessed about every little decision of how their caves could be decorated, they wouldn’t have enough energy left over to hunt or run away from the woolly mammoth chasing them.

But what happens when we finally catch a fish?

It’s not you, it’s me. No wait,it’s totally you

You went fishing and for once the catch of the day is actually exciting. You decide to bring out the Romeo or Juliet buried deep down and feel confident enough to send a “goodnight-it-was-fun” kind of text. But then… no answer. You thought you had a connection, you thought he/she was into you. 
Did you misread the signs…
Did he loose his phone..
Maybe his charger broke…
Did he get back with his ex…
Did he die?!

As research turns out, playing hard to get is actually important in dating. If a partner is already interested and likes you, posing a challenge can turn up their desire. For some unfathomable reason, people will assume that if you’re excited about them, there must be something wrong with you. HA.

So then, we’re left playing “the game”. You know, where I read the text 33 seconds after receiving it, because my phone is rarely outside my arms reach, but wait 38 minutes to reply because I’m cool and have other shit to do than answer your reply to the text that I just sent you.

Conclusion : we’re all in this together, casually fishing for our knight in shining tinder.

 

By: Léa Elbilia