The Paradox of Choice & Vulnerability in 21st Century Dating

I get it. You are in your 30’s, 40’s maybe 50’s, divorced, or not, with one cat or two dogs or more or none. You are educated, well traveled, astute, funny, cute, fun, can get down, you’re a hustler, you probably own a home and have great credit, and you are single.

You have tried dating apps, blind dates, speed dating, and your hands are slowly going up in the air and you are mentally blaring, “Where have all the good men gone?”

Well, there are single men out there. In my experience, the good men are doing the things they love. They aren’t wasting away days or time pondering what they could be doing to meet the right partner or giving explanations as to why they are single. There really isn’t a “single man trope” in 2017.

“…it’s not really in the nature of single men to pontificate over their identity as single men. Blame the patriarchy for making life so easy for them, or biology for not putting an expiry date on their reproductive system, but a lot of men are barely sentient in this respect – we don’t consciously acknowledge the concept of singledom to ourselves, let alone say the actual word “singledom” out loud with our mouth.” – A Straight Guy’s Guide to Being Single and Happy

Add to this, that depending on where you live, you might have a disproportionate ratio of single men to women. Thanks to Jon Birger’s book’ Date- onomics : How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game ( 4.5-star review on Amazon) we know, “It’s not that he’s just not that into you—it’s that there aren’t enough of him. And the numbers prove it. Using a combination of demographics, statistics, game theory, and number-crunching, Date-onomics tells what every single, college-educated, heterosexual, looking-for-a-partner woman needs to know: The “man deficit” is real.”

 

Click the map for more detailed information. Here is a Q & A with Jon Birger. 

Where does that leave the single ladies?   A lot of the time one grasps at made up ideals that are based on a social media profile or app that doesn’t surpass 500 words.  You evoke a future without even being their friend first.  You act #CRAY. It is ok, we have ALL done it.

Many of us long for relationships so much that we fall in love with the idea of what we want people to be instead of who they really are. Settling for less than what we deserve and postponing an inevitable end. Mind you, we learn something valuable from each failure, but only if we actually act differently the next time the same pattern presents itself.

I was once engaged to a guy who I had met online. On our first date, he was soft spoken, super kind and handsome. Just what I asked the universe to bring into my life! I was smitten with the idea of what I thought I wanted. To say it was absolutely not going to work out would be an understatement.  I have a very strong personality and his passiveness was frustrating. My best friend Luzi said she didn’t like me when I was with him. I actually didn’t like myself much either.  I barely knew him, but he was safe. In the end, I did the breaking, but the truth is, he didn’t love me either. When I asked him why he wanted to marry me he said: “We both have good jobs, we both own houses, this is the next step”.  I bought him a one-way ticket to Ireland when he broke up. I have had no regrets, I would hate that to think I married someone because it was the step that made sense, and not because I couldn’t imagine not taking that step with them.  I didn’t date again for a long time, but once I did I fell into the paradox of choice. Although, I tried to only choose those with strong personalities, YAY to growth!

David Wygant, Contributor for Huffington Post, explains the paradox of choice in his article Why Dating Has Become So Hard.

Men and women go out on a date and if just one thing isn’t right, well, in the olden days, it used to be very simple. You know, let me figure out this person a little bit more. Let me see if this person’s really great. Maybe this thing that I don’t like tonight might have just been because they’re nervous or excited.

But now? We evaluate each other immediately. Wait, she’s got a lazy eye. I don’t like that, I’m going to back on the dating app and I am going to swipe for somebody who’s perfect.

You see the dating apps were actually created because people in general are always searching for perfection. They’ve been marketed the “perfect partner.“

They’ve been marketed the “perfect love.”

The perfect romance. The perfect everything. And the dating apps fall right into that ideal.

But you see, there is no perfect person.

Look in the mirror.

Are you perfect?

I don’t think you are.

Truth be told, he has a great point! So, if on top of having a low statistics, you are not giving or being given a chance, what should you expect to happen? Maybe it goes deeper than all of the above… for men and women.

Perhaps it is easier to fail at dating than take the chance of getting hurt.

I am not really sure how to fix the hurt or the rancor of what you have faced in a relationship and the dating world individually. For me it is a mixture of yoga, crying it out, traveling and focusing on my own personal journey.

The key in transforming into the post-hurt version is self-love and actions that embody it. I can say I love me, but then not respect me. I can’t say I love me and not have the courage to see my imperfections. I can’t say I love me and not be authentic or let go of who I think I should be for who I am. I can’t say I love me but not fully believe what has made me vulnerable also makes me beautiful. I need to be able to fully accept and love myself so I can show someone how it is done. Even if I do or don’t want someone permanently romantically in my life right now 🙂

When people meet there is a physical attraction, a dating period and then a commitment. It is important to acknowledge the attraction- say it if you have to, but also make it clear that the dating period is all about friendship and getting to know details about one another that involve being vulnerable.

There is power in vulnerability, it is the only way to be seen, and to know each other.

I leave you with one of my favorite TED Talks.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! Please comment below!

 

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2 Comments

  1. My thoughts…Men are simple, primitive, and less emotional than women. We do not like to share our feelings and thoughts. A single male “trope” doesn’t exist because single men do not share and bond like females do. But, I promise you, plenty of single men wonder were all the good women are. Now to the numbers. The ratio creates a problem for women, without a doubt. How can a “good man” exist when a man is outnumbered by women? There are women that exist out there that take pride in being a side chick. Being a side chick is glorified in music and tv. Women exist out there that won’t hesitate to screw over another woman to get a man. Is this a product of the ratio? We need more research. The flip side is that a man doesn’t hesitate to take up the pursuit of these type of women, which creates the “all men are dogs” cliché. This is natural selection at its best and a vicious cycle. Good women and good men DO exist, but they are unicorns.

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