home
RSS
Dating and the challenge of too many choices
January 26th, 2012
07:21 AM ET

Dating and the challenge of too many choices

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

If online dating hasn’t led you to your perfect match, perhaps the issue isn’t that you’re too choosy, but rather that there’s too much choice.

There’s no doubt that dating in the 21st century offers a lot of opportunities. Think about your parents’ generation: They grew up with no Internet, they likely stayed in the same town for most of their lives, and they automatically had more in common with the people in that town as a result. Today, women and men are increasingly marrying someone outside of their religion, their ethnicity and their geographic area.

Never in history have we had so many potential partners to choose from - and never have we had so much difficulty choosing. In fact, several recent studies suggest that this explosion of options has made men and women feel more confused and uncertain about finding a partner than ever before.

The challenges of choice was well illustrated in a study in 2000 that looked at people’s buying habits. Researchers asked customers to participate in a tasting of different types of jam; those who sampled the product were given a $1-off coupon. On the first day, the researchers offered a choice of six different jams. On the next, they offered 24 different jams.

People tasted the same number of jams, regardless of the number of available samples. Yet their buying choices varied dramatically: Offered six jams, about 30% of samplers ended up purchasing a jar. Faced with 24 choices, though, only 3% bought a jar.

The conclusion: When given so many choices, people have more trouble making any decision, and this sense of indecisiveness could lead to a cascade of negative effects. In his seminal book, "The Paradox Of Choice," Dr. Barry Schwartz writes, “Choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis. And in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.”

The problem could be our quest for perfection. We all want to believe in "The One" - a person that meets every item on our relationship checklist, who’s our soul mate forever. But when you search for perfection, you’re unlikely to find it.

“People who attempt to make the 'perfect' choice, whether it comes to buying a car or finding a partner, end up less satisfied, regardless of what or who they choose. That’s because they tend to look for flaws, and become disillusioned with all of their options," says Andy Trees, Ph.D., author of "A Scientific Guide to Successful Dating."

Many services also ask you to fill out exhaustive questionnaires about your likes and dislikes. It might seem like more information would help you make smarter choices, but again, that’s often not the case.

The more criteria and qualities you consider for a partner, the tougher it can be to narrow down your choices. In fact, according to a 2006 Pew study of online dating, people generally use Internet sites because they believe that having lots of choices will result in a better match. But research suggests that such increased choices actually have the opposite effect.

There’s evidence that even non-Web-based dating services can suffer from the challenge of choice: A study of people attending speed-dating events, published in the August 2011 issue of Biology Letters, found that they made fewer decisions to date when they attended events with higher numbers of candidates and greater variety. Again, the researchers concluded that people who have too many options will choose nothing.

Although one day someone may indeed invent the perfect algorithm to match two people, no online dating site has yet provided proof that its formula works, regardless of what its marketing department wants you to think.

So how can you harness the power of technology to your advantage? “First, don’t give up on the Internet - it can still be a useful way to meet people," says Trees. "Understand, though, that you’ll need to take the responsibility to choose your matches. Don’t expect the service to find you the perfect person. Pace yourself and keep a normal dating schedule. Seeing a new person every night of the week isn’t going to increase your chances of romance, just your risk of exhaustion.

"And be patient and realistic. There’s no perfect mate out there, just people that you can enjoy spending a day - or maybe even the rest of your days - with.”


soundoff (2,080 Responses)
  1. Mercedes Winnebago Sprinter Repair

    http://www.l-www.sitepal.com/affiliates/entry/?spdirect=1&affId=75895&promotionId=17691&link=https://fleetservicesorangecounty.com/about/

    May 17, 2021 at 07:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 32955 Sprinter Repair

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for something relating to this.

    http://www.aurora.network/redirect?url=https://fleetservicesocrv.com/gmc-luxury-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sprinter Van Repair In Huntington Beach

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It's the little changes which will make the largest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://www.fis.com/fis/shared/redirect.asp?banner=6158&url=http://www.commercialvanrepairshop.com/travel-van-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Handicap Van Repair

    Great site you've got here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    https://landofvolunteers.com/go.php?https://fleettruckrepairshop.com/gmc-cargo-van-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. instagram takipçi satın al

    excellent put up, very informative. I'm wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector don't realize this.
    You should continue your writing. I am sure, you've a huge readers' base already!

    May 17, 2021 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. kQkAARBrDD

    energy transfer homework help mba admission essay help primary homework help ww2 leaders online stats homework help

    May 17, 2021 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mercedes Sprinter Service

    This is a very good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!

    https://www.favy.jp/trackings/redirect_to_source_url?tat=reservation_form&tid=16936&url=https://fleetservicesocrv.com/high-top-van-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. LebnEncox

    canadian pharmacy 1 internet online drugstore https://xlnpharmacy.com/ Geodon

    May 17, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 사설토토

    I was pretty pleased to discover this site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to look at new things on your site.

    http://footballzaa.com/out.php?url=https://myspace.com/t7ddgok499

    May 17, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv remodel near me

    https://m.meetme.com/mobile/redirect/unsafe?url=https://globalbusinessvaluations.kylieblog.com/2257742/not-known-details-about-rv-repair-shop

    May 17, 2021 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 토토사이트

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Many thanks!

    http://group.so-ten.jp/redirect.php?rurl=https://articlescad.com/addicted-to-us-too-6-reasons-we-just-cant-stop-1093474.html

    May 17, 2021 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Leak Near Me

    https://www.fms.treas.gov/fmsweb/disclaimer.jsp?ciURL=https://bigfoottube.com/the-man-who-killed-hitler-then-the-bigfoot-blu-ray-unboxing/

    May 17, 2021 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 먹튀검증

    I absolutely love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím wanting to create my own blog and would like to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Thanks!

    http://idea.informer.com/users/cattlesphynx/?what=personal

    May 17, 2021 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. JebgEncox

    Clarinex https://pharmacylo.com/ motion sickness

    May 17, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 먹튀

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks!

    https://phonographic.science/wiki/Enhance_your_Keno_Winnings

    May 17, 2021 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    The only thing I lament is not having found your blog earlier.

    https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    May 18, 2021 at 06:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. trailer repair places near me

    You are so cool! I don't believe I've read a single thing like this before. So nice to discover another person with some original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

    http://www.brooklynohio.gov/TRK/C/3p6zZpKrM9Y=/X/ClickTarget.aspx?url=https://ocrvcenter.com

    May 18, 2021 at 06:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    You have actually covered this subject properly.

    https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    May 18, 2021 at 07:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. 먹튀

    That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise infoÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

    https://www.bokkmarking-signs.win/5-tools-everyone-in-the-meogtwigeomjeung-industry-should-be-using-26

    May 18, 2021 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. 먹튀검증사이트

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is really good.

    https://diigo.com/0jys7t

    May 18, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 먹튀검증

    This is a really good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise infoÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!

    https://matchguaranty.com/members/baccarat6summercard7/activity/291543/

    May 18, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RebfZisse

    canadian online pharmacy no prescription cialis dapoxetine http://rcialisgl.com/ – where to buy cialis cialis generic

    May 18, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. como da entrada no seguro desemprego

    Hello it's me, I am also visiting this web site on a regular basis,
    this site is truly nice and the users are truly sharing pleasant thoughts.

    May 18, 2021 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 먹튀검증

    Right here is the right blog for everyone who hopes to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject that's been discussed for a long time. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

    http://riyapola.com/user/profile/578981

    May 18, 2021 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. sbmDdVLvoC

    punishment for students not doing homework participating in team sports help to develop good character essay graduate school personal statement writing service characters in forrest gump

    May 18, 2021 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. online accountability coach

    https://nsuem.ru/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=lib5&event2=&event3=&goto=https://menmastermind.com/

    May 18, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Content Marketing Quote

    Good blog you've got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    http://www.sweetpaulmag.com/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://internetmarketingwashington.com/

    May 18, 2021 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Content Marketing California

    http://enews2.sfera.net/newsletter/redirect.php?id=sabricattani@gmail.com_0000006566_144&link=https://postfallsmarketing.com/

    May 18, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Where Can I Get Contact Lenses Near Me

    http://m.caijing.com.cn/member/logout?referer=http://arizonasvision.com

    May 19, 2021 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 먹튀사이트

    Itís hard to come by experienced people in this particular topic, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://musikayf.ru/user/basshose20/

    May 19, 2021 at 03:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mUkbOLElNH

    mysql homework help essay help chat room purchase essay papers online homework doing jobs

    May 19, 2021 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Internet Marketing Quote

    https://www.export.org.au/Redirect.aspx?destination=http://masternearme.com

    May 19, 2021 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Eye Exam Today Near Me

    Excellent blog post. I certainly appreciate this website. Keep writing!

    http://yellowpages.observer-reporter.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sunglasseseyedoctorsoptometristphoenixaz.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Eye Appointments Near Me

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Kudos!

    https://login.ermis.gov.gr/pls/orasso/orasso.wwctx_app_language.set_language?p_http_language=fr-fr&p_nls_language=f&p_nls_territory=france&p_requested_url=https://bettersightovernight.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Printing Places Near Me

    http://www.meinvz.net/Link/Dereferrer/?https://360branded.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. BbshMile

    viagra or cialis http://loxviagra.com/ – does viagra stop you coming how to get viagra to work

    May 19, 2021 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Real Estate Signs Near Me

    https://nanostandards.ansi.org/banner_click.php?id=2&url=https://360branded.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. https://www.sfgate.com/cannabis-paid/article/best-cbd-oil-for-dogs-15812674.php

    What an fantastic manner of checking out points.

    https://www.sfgate.com/cannabis-paid/article/best-cbd-oil-for-dogs-15812674.php

    May 19, 2021 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Slide Out California

    I'm more than happy to find this web site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and I have you saved to fav to look at new stuff on your website.

    https://www.imp.mx/salto.php?va=http://laraduran.com/2016/08/22/i-gave-up-on-chicken-legs/

    May 19, 2021 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Shades Near Me

    /

    May 19, 2021 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. 사설토토

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service? Cheers!

    https://pathta.jp/user/profile/8935973

    May 19, 2021 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. 먹튀검증

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites on the web. I'm going to recommend this site!

    https://historyhub.history.gov/external-link.jspa?url=https://gumroad.com/787868470450/p/casino-blackjack-how-to-win-blackjack-52652148-8d52-4dcd-926c-cbcbc2208321

    May 19, 2021 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. LGzztjKcjK

    doing homework at library gender pay inequality essay resume writing service in abu dhabi i need help with my physical science homework

    May 19, 2021 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. 토토사이트

    I must thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this website. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own website now 😉

    http://www.magcloud.com/user/paintjuice01

    May 19, 2021 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Tires Near Me

    https://www.usacarry.com/forums/redirect-to/?redirect=http://guenterreiter.eu/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&limitstart=57800

    May 19, 2021 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. AnooEncox

    can you buy viagra over the counter in india http://llviagra.com/ viagra farmacia ahumada precio

    May 19, 2021 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Digital Marketing Company Near Me

    This is the right site for everyone who would like to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic which has been written about for decades. Wonderful stuff, just great!

    http://laosubenben.com/home/link.php?url=rankemailads.com/

    May 20, 2021 at 02:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. oHgjgMUORS

    1800 homework help community service essay hook resume writing service jacksonville fl help me solve my algebra homework

    May 20, 2021 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. https://www.sfgate.com/cannabis-paid/article/best-cbd-oil-for-dogs-15812674.php

    Precisely the kind of web content that enhances the web. Many thanks!

    https://www.sfgate.com/cannabis-paid/article/best-cbd-oil-for-dogs-15812674.php

    May 20, 2021 at 04:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. cyclosporine

    buy cyclomune buy cyclomune usa

    May 20, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.