Do Singles Have Too Many Choices Today?

A friend told me he had recently ventured to Lowe’s to buy a wireless doorbell and was overwhelmed by how many different types of such doorbells were available. When he finally bought one, he was amazed how many different rings he had to select from; and he complained that he had difficulty deciding which ring to finally choose.

Totally coincidentally, the next day my son emailed me a link to a fascinating lecture (and I rarely find lectures fascinating) by a psychologist named Barry Schwartz who has written a book called “The Paradox of Choice.” The basic premise of both his lecture and book is that the number of choices that people face in today’s world creates what he terms a “paralysis of choice.”

Schwartz points out that “the more choices we have, the more difficult the choice.” More importantly, he states that “we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.”

“If (our choice) is not perfect,” Schwartz opines, ” it’s easy to imagine that you could have made a different choice that would have been better…;this imagined alternative induces you to regret the decision you made and this regret subtracts from the satisfaction of what you selected…;.you then begin to imagine the attractive features of other options.”
This is a major factor why celebrities with so many choices have such difficulty settling down and finding happiness and satisfaction with just one person.

At my dating service, LunchDates, often I would hear feedback from (usually a man) that while he liked a woman whom he had dated a few times, he was not going to pursue her further, because he found some flaw in her (i.e. she was not “perfect”), so he wanted to see what other women were available.

Yes ladies and that is a primary answer to the $64,000 question why men suddenly disappear after 3-4 seemingly positive and pleasant dates!

Between matchmaking services, on-line dating services, speed dating programs, and various singles activity groups, many single and divorced men and women have such a plethora of people to meet that they find it difficult to settle on just one person, always wondering who else is out there.

Now here is another total coincidence that occurred this week that further makes my point. A cousin of mine and I have been emailing each other back and forth relating interesting stories about our family history.

It turns out that over a century ago my Grandma Rose, who had just arrived in New York from Europe, went to the office of a Jewish marriage broker. According to my cousin, before she signed up for the service, she noticed a man on the verge of tears because a woman he was interested in had just rejected him. So my grandmother said to the couple (imagine a heavy Yiddish accent) “Lady you do not want this man? He does not look good enough for you?”

The woman confirmed she did not want him. Grandma Rose then turned to the man and said “Mister you look good enough for me. Do I look good enough for you?” He nodded yes. She then asked him if he could read and write. Again he nodded yes. So my grandmother thrust a piece of paper and pencil at the man and asked that he sign his name so she could see his handwriting. She examined the signature and decided that he was a good man.

So she took him by his hand and pulled him out of the office, saying “Let’s go get married.” By the way that man is the grandfather after whom I am named. (And I guess I was fated to start a dating service.)

What is most interesting is that single people with fewer choices often not only seem to settle down with one person quicker than many “serial daters,” but they also seem happier, more contented, and more appreciative of that person.

I recall many people at LunchDates with whom we had difficulty matching, NOT because they were too picky, but because they had some feature that made it difficult for them to meet someone. Perhaps it was a heavy woman or an obese man or a very short man.
Often it took a while, but when we were finally able to find them someone who was sufficiently interested to go out with them a second or third time, the couple wound up placing their membership on hold and later reporting back how happy they were that they had found one another.

Just like my Grandma Rose, they had found a nice person with good handwriting!

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