Do You Have a ‘Dating Addiction?’

Everywhere I turn on television these days I see Dr. Drew Pinsky popping up discussing one type of addiction or another.

Dr. Drew, as he likes to be called is a self-acclaimed “addiction expert,” and on a recent talk show he was asked if people could be addicted to almost anything. Dr. Drew’s response was that he defines the term “addiction” as a compulsive use of practically anything that causes harm to one’s personal life, career, or health.

That brings me to an addiction that I think is very real: “dating addiction,” and it is not to be confused with people with a sex addiction.

In over 30 years of working with singles, I have seen many people whom I would classify as being addicted to dating. These are people who are constantly searching to meet the perfect person, feeling that there is always someone out there who might be just a little better than the person that he or she might currently be dating. After a while, many of them became addicted to the search itself.

The problem today is that since there are so many single, divorced, and widowed people in the dating world, AND because of the prevalence of matchmaking and online dating services, along with various activities geared toward singles, practically anyone can put themselves in a position to meet and date more eligible people in a week than someone a century ago might have met in a year!

Therefore, since it is so easy to at least get first dates today, it has become increasingly easy for people to become addicted to the whole dating process.

What type of person tends to become a dating addict? Overall, it is predominantly (though certainly not exclusively) men over 40, who find it so much easier to meet women than when they were younger. As men get older their Dating Quotient (or social marketability) rises, and for many of them it is like being the proverbial “kid in the candy store.”

I have interviewed several men who related how difficult it was for them get women to go out with then when they were in high school or college or in their 20s. One divorced man in particular told me that now that he was in his mid 50s (and also very successful), he was going to be very, very picky. He actually admitted that in a sense he was going to gain “revenge” for the women who had rejected him when he was younger. If a woman was not EXACTLY what he was looking for, he would reject her (probably before she rejected him).

This man was a classic case of someone with a dating addiction. He was a member of my dating service,LunchDates, for several years, kept renewing his membership, and continued meeting woman after woman, and never stayed in a relationship for more than a month or two.

Today men like him also sign up for online services such as Match.com or eHarmony.com, and frequent several singles events a month. Therefore it is extremely easy for them to meet two to three different women a week.

Such a man might meet a woman with whom he has a great deal in common and whom he finds very attractive. But then he discovers one slight flaw; perhaps he loves to ski and she doesn’t, or she is a bit shorter than he would like.

In his mind he still plans on seeing her again, and at the conclusion of their first date he is totally sincere when he takes her phone number and says he will definitely call her.

Now it is a few days later, and he is compulsively trolling through some of his online matches (perhaps secretively in his office) and comes across photos of another attractive, yet taller woman who claims that she is a prolific skier. Does he follow through with his promise to call the first woman, or like a drug addict chasing the perfect high, does he e-mail the online woman and make plans to see her over the weekend instead? What do you think?

Of course he could still take the first woman out on a different night. But then he remembers he has registered for a speed dating event on Friday night, and he fantasizes that he just might meet someone even better there.

Oh, and he also recalls he has the phone number of a work colleague’s supposedly very attractive sister, so he decides to make plans to meet her for brunch Sunday morning. Then there’s that art show he is attending Sunday afternoon, where he knows there will be an abundance of eligible single women.

Some of you may think this scenario sounds ridiculous, but I can assure you that there are many dating addicts out there who go through these types of decisions every week.

(I might add that there are also plenty of women who have become dating addicts. These tend to be very attractive women who have no problem finding men who want to date them.)

I can remember many times at the dating servicer I ran when one of my counselors reported having the following conversation with a client:

Counselor: “So how was your lunch date with Sue?”
Client: “It was great; we had a really nice time. She’s very cute.”
Counselor: “Will you be seeing her again?”
Client: “Uhhh, I don’t know, maybe.” (Pause) “So do you have another match for me?”

Many people with a dating addiction find it difficult to stop the search, even when they become involved in a relatively serious relationship. So after being monogamous with one person for a few months, when the initial infatuation begins to fade (perhaps he or she detects some fatal flaw), the compulsive itch to return to the hunt comes back.

Perhaps that person might even continue the relationship for a while, even after picking up the phone and calling his dating service counselor and exclaiming in an excited voice “Take my membership off hold! Anyone great join lately?”
Client: “It was great; we had a really nice time. She’s very cute.”
Counselor: “Will you be seeing her again?”
Client: “Uhhh, I don’t know, maybe.” (Pause) “So do you have another match for me?”

Many people with a dating addiction find it difficult to stop the search, even when they become involved in a relatively serious relationship. So after being monogamous with one person for a few months, when the initial infatuation begins to fade (perhaps he or she detects some fatal flaw), the compulsive itch to return to the hunt comes back.

Perhaps that person might even continue the relationship for a while, even after picking up the phone and calling his dating service counselor and exclaiming in an excited voice “Take my membership off hold! Anyone great join lately?”
Of course he could still take the first woman out on a different night. But then he remembers he has registered for a speed dating event on Friday night, and he fantasizes that he just might meet someone even better there.

Oh, and he also recalls he has the phone number of a work colleague’s supposedly very attractive sister, so he decides to make plans to meet her for brunch Sunday morning. Then there’s that art show he is attending Sunday afternoon, where he knows there will be an abundance of eligible single women.

Some of you may think this scenario sounds ridiculous, but I can assure you that there are many dating addicts out there who go through these types of decisions every week.

(I might add that there are also plenty of women who have become dating addicts. These tend to be very attractive women who have no problem finding men who want to date them.)

I can remember many times at the dating service I ran when one of my counselors reported having the following conversation with a client:

Counselor: “So how was your lunch date with Sue?”
Client: “It was great; we had a really nice time. She’s very cute.”
Counselor: “Will you be seeing her again?”
Client: “Uhhh, I don’t know, maybe.” (Pause) “So do you have another match for me?”

Many people with a dating addiction find it difficult to stop the search, even when they become involved in a relatively serious relationship. So after being monogamous with one person for a few months, when the initial infatuation begins to fade (perhaps he or she detects some fatal flaw), the compulsive itch to return to the hunt comes back.

Perhaps that person might even continue the relationship for a while, even after picking up the phone and calling his dating service counselor and exclaiming in an excited voice “Take my membership off hold! Anyone great join lately?”

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