The Paradox of Choice: How Dating Apps Trip Us Up


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Last year, I started working with a coaching client – let’s call him “Chris,” who came to me after he had been online dating with swipe apps like Tinder and Bumble for over a year. The issue? He’d never actually gone on a date. You can imagine his frustration.

“I find it insanely overwhelming,” this handsome 33-year-old told me. “I pretty much never stop swiping!” The choice – an endless stream offered by such apps – was literally paralyzing him.

This young man’s case might be extreme (of course, there were other issues lurking beneath; we handled them), but the sentiment behind it is common, right? With so many choices in dating, shouldn’t dating feel easier instead of impossibly stressful?

If that’s ringing a bell, it’s understandable. First of all, these apps MUST be exhausting you. According to Tinder (2017), the average user logs in 11 times a day, and spends an average 8 minutes on the app EACH TIME.

That’s 90 minutes a day. Swiping. And that’s even before you deal with other hazards – like if and/or when someone is misrepresenting themselves

Let’s look at that stat a bit closer, shall we? That stat indicates that the average person swipes through HUNDREDS of prospects every day. Hundreds. This is no regular time suck. This phenomenon results in complete and utter dissatisfaction. Here’s why…

Ever heard of the famous psychological principle coined by Barry Schwartz, known as the Paradox of Choice? It’s basically the scientific theory that explains why modern dating feels exasperating. We have so many choices that we can’t feel satisfied about those choices — or even choose at all.

The proof is in the pudding. According to the latest Census Bureau (2014) count – 55% of the US population is single. We are marrying at a significantly lower rate and at older ages than any other time in history.

An overwhelming number of potentials can also lead us to muddle our dating criteria. A seemingly unending sources of options primes people to make mating decisions that are less closely aligned with their optimal mating priorities. In other words- you’re all going WAY too broad.

And did I mention how much time it takes? The iPhone addiction certainly doesn’t help, but 90 minutes a day? Come on. That’s 547.50 hours spent on Tinder per year!

So let’s summarize. If you’re on Tinder or Bumble (any of them, really), you have likely experienced the following:

Casual-ness: Being solicited for sex, booty calls and one night stands more often than not.

Endless back and forth texting that goes NOWHERE (read more on the texting trap here). The supply has never been so big and the incentive to choose so small — many matches remain ignored, messages go unanswered and most online conversations never turn into offline dates.

Low incentive to date properly, because you’re under the illusion that there’s always someone hotter/better/faster/stronger (yes, that was a nod to the Daft Punk song).

Brain overload, mind-numbing boredom, and apathy. Great apathy.

Don’t despair. Help is on the way. To reclaim your time and achieve better results, read on.

Knowledge is power.

We know the potential hazards of using these apps, so we can find ways to be proactive and reduce our risks. Through hearing hundreds of people voice these concerns via my online coaching program, Date With Enthusiasm, I’ve come up with 5 tips to stop the dating app pain:

1. FOCUS
Are you looking to hook up, or are you looking to meet a life partner? If it’s the latter and not the former, then you need to focus. Focus does not mean sifting endlessly through pictures. If you’re going to stay on the apps, see them for what they are — a tool to be optimized. Get really clear about what you want, and then hyper specify your search – tight geographic boundaries, age, and so on.

In “The Paradox of Choice”, Dr. Schwartz clearly demonstrates how narrowing our options makes us happier. Try it.

2. RESPECT YOUR TIME
If you truly have 90 minutes a day to swipe, I suggest acquiring a hobby. Seriously, guys. We never get this time back. Practice discipline and limit your app use. Use the extra time to enrich your life, to get out there and join groups, clubs, and even just to go to a bar or coffee shop – and meet real people in real life. You’ll love it.

And you’ll get to put pants on.

3. SEEK ALTERNATIVES
Find alternatives that naturally curate your prospects — there are awesome alternatives, like Tawkify. What I like about Tawkify is that they find matches for you after a proper screening for common values, interests and preference compatibility. Then, they select and plan dates to introduce the best possible matches.

Curation is key. To me, that’s really the value of dating sites — finding the most relevant people, putting them directly in front of you, and giving you the opportunity to meet in real life and test the waters. So, find a dating service that makes this process smooth and easy. Remember: fewer options, better tailored for you, will save you time and possibly your sanity.

4. GET OFFLINE FAST
No matter where you find match prospects, don’t remain in virtual world limbo for long. Move into meeting ASAP. If you can’t, at the very least get on a video call. Eliminate any doubt that this person is not real. Chemistry is physical, so in-person dates are essential to assess real compatibility. Do not waste your time. If they don’t want to meet in-person, bye bye bye!

5. KEEP UP THE FAITH
Believe that the universe is working for you. And if you don’t believe it, start saying it out loud until you do. Have faith that the love you want is there and that it is yours, and you will be unstoppable. When you are “in faith,” you feel good, you are FUN, and you attract good things.

Since launching Date With Enthusiasm, I have helped hundreds of men and women find quality partners, move in, get engaged and beyond. I also help my clients let go and move on from the limiting crap of their past, into the awesomeness that is their now. That guy I mentioned above, “Chris”? He finally went on a date. In fact, he went on many. He’s engaged now.

Good luck out there!


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